Friday, February 14, 2014

Is it Mudder's Day?

Hockey Field from Oval in Carl Schurz Park
There was a certain age, when anything over a four inch snowfall drove all the teen boys down to the Hockey Field in Carl Schurz Park for some of the best tackle football in the Yorkville neighborhood. If you were lucky, you had on those great $6 dollar tan and brown rubber boots with the yellow laces you bought from Arbee's Army Navy store on 83rd and Second (mandatory footwear for all Troop 654 ~ St. Stephen of Hungary's Boy Scouts) ~ if you weren't lucky, you had sneakers on, and said, "Uncle," when your feet froze and you lost your feeling in them.

The trick to staying out in the snow forever, was keeping the snow from getting inside the boot (if you had them on ~ half the guys did have sneakers), everybody had their own method. I tucked my two long johns inside the boot than wore my dungarees outside the boot and put a big rubber band around the dungarees half way up the boot. This kept me dry for a long time, and also put my foot to sleep cutting off my circulation, better than getting wet.

The tackle games in the snow were wild. We had “mudders,” like at the race track on rainy days. Guys who were useless at football when it wasn’t snowing, but as soon as they got down the Hockey Field in a pile of snow they turned into super heroes. You lost your traction in the stuff and certain guys knew how to adjust and some danced the night away, poorly. Nimble turned into the leading talent down the Hockey Field. Best snow tackle player of all-time, Freddy Muller, and he had sneakers on.

Before the game, we'd sneak back up our houses to get extra clothing to act as padding. Dad was permanently pissed off at me for ruining all his sweatshirts. I'd throw a pair of his house pants over my dungarees and belt them up for good luck. Getting stuff back in the house was a treacherous art.

Carl Schurz playground @ 6am

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