The Spaces Between Your Fingers

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I interviewed Martha Baldwin over the phone on November 25th. This was one of the stories she told me from her childhood during a winter in which she still lived in the old farmhouse. It was one of her favorite childhood memories that she recalled, calling it the “sled story.”

               It was a perfect February morning in Shoreham, Vermont, one which Martha and her siblings had off from school due to the mountains of snow that had rained down from the sky over the course of the night and made their way onto the hills of their tiny, rural town. Martha, accompanied by Bud and her siblings Ralph, Pat, and Janet, had just gotten brand new sleds, and today was the perfect day to give them a trial run over their favorite sledding hills. They trampled their way through the seemingly mile-high snow, struggling to lift their legs above the fluffy white powder. Eventually, the group made it to the first of the four hills that they would toboggan over, and Bud decided to go first. He shot down the hill, doing his best to imitate a penguin on a cold Antarctica’s day, followed by both Pat and Janet before it was finally Martha’s turn. She finally reached the top of the hill, after struggling with her tiny legs to get there, but it was her moment. She leapt from the top of the hill, and the sled followed the same path as the previous three, zipping down the first hill, up a second, then down that one, and continuing until she began to climb the fourth hill from the great momentum the previous hills had created. Before reaching the top, she could hear yelling. “AHJDHFLOOK… DHJMSJFKDSLOW!!!” What on Earth are they trying to say.

               Martha bounced over the crest of the final hill to confirm what all the yelling was about; an incoming train. She realized her best chance to avoid it would be to speed down the final hill and try to beat the train across the track. The sled kicked powder into her face and forced her to close her eyes and do nothing but say a quick prayer. She could hear the train powerfully chugging closer and closer, but when she finally stopped, she had beaten the train across, and it continued along behind her, car after car. There was still a member of the group missing though. Everyone continued to scream at the top of their little lungs for Ralph to slow down and stop his sled, but there was no way for him to hear them over the whipping of the snowy wind and the screeching of the trains wheels. After what seemed like years of waiting for the train to finally pass as anxiety filled the children’s chests, the four crossed back over the tracks to find Ralph, sitting in a snowbank, cheeks rosy as could be, eating a handful of snow with a gleeful smile on his face. “Thank goodness you’re okay!” Martha shouted as she ran to give him a big hug. From within the puffs of Martha’s jacket you could hear Ralph excitedly say, “Come on guys, lets do it again!” 

Sledding

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Early 1950's
Shoreham, VT

I interviewed Martha Baldwin over the phone on November 25th. This was one of the stories she told me from her childhood during a winter in which she still lived in the old farmhouse. It was one of her favorite childhood memories that she recalled, calling it the “sled story.”

Decade: 1950s
Rating:
Recorded by Cody Baldwin on December 6, 2017
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