Art Hill - St. Louis, 1977
We had some pretty white winters during my college years in St. Louis. And Art
Hill was the place to go to make use!
You could often spot a couple of lunch tray and garbage bag riders. And now and then you you might see 2 sisters, squealing down the hill on one pair of cross country skis! (my only photo)
A Quiet Afternoon
I met my little friend one afternoon when I was alone skiing. The hill was empty that day so I took advantage to practice some telemark turns...happy to have no audience. I had made my way to the bottom of the hill, when I heard a whimpering from the lagoon.
I turned to see the face and arms of a young boy, surrounded by a thin layer of broken ice. The boy clutched the cement edge of the lagoon, his eyes were locked on mine as I left my skis and rushed towards him. I dropped to my knees and the boy reached around my neck. I struggled to lift him, but his water logged snow suit fought to stay under water. I finally won and felt the suction release.
I held the dripping, crying child and looked for a parent. At the very top of the hill, I could see 2 unaware figures, gesturing as if in conversation. I began the journey up, stumbling and huffing and puffing. The little boy clung to me, sobbing and shivering the whole way up. By the time I reached the top, the mother spotted us and had began to yell. She was furious with her child who had stupidly aimed his saucer towards the water. And where was his other boot?! In the lagoon?! She sputtered and fumed and never said thank you. I headed back down to get my skis and poles and headed for my car...shaken.
Thank you, Little Boy.
Your close call, made me a more cautious parent in later years. And your mother taught me some lessons, too.
I wish I could go back and redo that "rescue". I would have learned your name and I wouldn't have handed you over to your mother until she proved that her anger was just a reaction...of panic and guilt. Sadly I'm pretty certain that you mom was a lot worse than that. I wish I had just taken you home with me!
To celebrate my birthday in April 2012, I decided to reflect on the past with a different kind of list. I've met a lot of people in my 55 years, but I'm going to stop and remind myself about the strangers I've met. These are people I met by accident, not through friends or work. For some reason, these strangers dropped into my life. Even though we may have only spent a few minutes together, these people have never been forgotten.
Each week, I'll spotlight someone I met in the past, who in some small way, made me stop and think.
Remember 55 Strangers