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On Frozen Pond 

by Jim Fetter

The year was 1961, or it may have been 1962. The exact date is really insignificant. What is significant to the story is the total disregard children have safety. The feeling of immortality has a tendency to wane with age. This was one of the coldest winters on record. The "Creek" was frozen at least 8 to 10 inches thick--a wonderland for a 12 year old kid, but a nightmare for a parent.

Three of my closest friends John O’Donnell (Bevy Ct), George Jenkins (Fane Ct.) and Eddie Sabatini (Knapp St.) and myself being 12 years old capitalized on the wonderland perspective of this unnatural occurrence. Why not! When else could you walk where you swam in the summer?

Episode number one occurred on the "Back Creek." Realizing now the "Back Creek" was the worst possible place to display these feats of daring because there was no one to help if the worst occurred. The humor in this story happened when we were walking across to Mau Mau Island. We were at least 100 yards off the shoreline when New City’s finest flew over in a helicopter and began to buzz us. The juxtaposition of this situation was clear --youth = fun or adult = danger.

Having no fear of the ice, terror immediately ensued when the thought of the police taking us home was eminent. Kind of like the nuns. Getting your butt kicked once was bad enough, but knowing you had to go home and face your parents, even more terrifying. The concept double jeopardy did not apply in this court.

We began running on the ice. It was low tide. As the tide went out the ice settled in some places on a smooth incline with about an eight foot drop. A perfect sliding board if you were going down. Getting up on the other hand made for one of the funniest sights I have ever seen. All of us except John O’Donnell opted to go over broken ice patches that made an excellent staircase. John on the other hand decided to attack the literal "slippery slop."

The picture here was a helicopter hovering twenty feet off the ground directly over John. He is running, but going no where. His feet trying to run up the slope fearing the corporal punishment that we all knew was awaiting upon our return home. The rest of us are by now safely on the shore watching this and laughing hysterically.

t ended on this day though. A bold step by one of our expeditionary members (George Jenkins) ended in going straight through the ice. We pulled him from the frozen water.

What I have not articulated in this story to this point is the temperature during this entire period is maybe "0" degrees. As we pulled George from the perfectly symmetrical hole in the ice, his clothes froze stiff on his body. He looked like Frosty the snowman and walked like the "Tin Man" by the time we reached the shoreline about twenty feet away. Hypothermia never entered our twelve-year old minds, nor our vocabularies at that time. Danger was avoided by the close proximity of my house to the incident. I lived six houses up the street. My parents were not home which allowed us to get George warmed up and dry clothes.

We avoided getting in trouble in both situations. The police never reported us in the "Back Creek" incident and the gods protected us from nosey neighbors in the Garland Ct. episode.

Gerritsen Beach, what a great place to grow up. The memories I have today of growing up there are the most cherished and valuable memories of life I have.

Note 1: Being the first one to write this story has given me the literary license to exclude my embarrassing moments. I’m certain John O’Donnell and George Jenkins could easily write stories about me that far exceed the escapades I have conveyed here. I certainly hope they read these memoirs and take a minute to remind me of some of my childhood faux pas.

Note 2: The exact site of the Garland Ct. ice scene is identified in the Beach Picture.

I hope this story is as fun for those reading it as it was in writing it. I look forward to writing more. Further more, please send me your comments on this story.

Last changed: June 28, 2002