Cardboard Sledding

When I was a kid, we didn’t have cable. Or even a working TV sometimes. We definitely didn’t have video games or cell phones. And nobody I knew did either.


Summer meant being outside all day. We would only come inside for food and water. And not always even water because we could always drink that warm, rubbery water from the hose. I’m pretty sure I recently read that it is considered a carcinogen now.

Thanks for the cancer, parents.

I had some friends as a kid that weren’t even allowed inside their own house in the summer. They had to ask permission to go inside, even to pee. And while we were allowed inside at my house, we didn’t ever want to be there.


When I was 10 we moved to a small town right next to the ocean. We were one bridge and about two miles away. The bridge was one of those huge ones that the boats traveling down the intercoastal could pass under without anything being raised and lowered.

This is it.

That bridge was a bitch to ride your bike up. I never successfully managed it. But it had these massive embankments leading up to support it. Like four giant hills guarding the bridge.


My brother T, sister J and I would go hang out behind the local businesses at the base of the bridge. We would wait till they threw out a few cardboard boxes. Then we would climb into the dumpsters and pull out some nice big pieces of cardboard.


On a semi-related note, we also used to play in this giant shipping crate that they used to collect newspapers for recycling. It was literally a steel box full of old newspapers. I have no clue what the draw was, but I remember it being fun. Those were dark and desperate times for entertainment.

We would climb in and out through the donation holes. Until my mother found out and we got in trouble.

We would rush away from those empty lots and dirty dumpsters, sometimes with shop owners yelling at us to keep out of their trash. We would take our stolen cardboard down to the bridge and climb the embankment.


Then we would sit on the cardboard and push ourselves off and slide down the hill. Those embankments were the highest hills we had ever seen. It was thrilling.

Apparently a lot of people did this.

We would slide down the embankment for hours until the cardboard was torn into tiny, useless shreds. Or until someone got hurt. Getting hurt was always the universal symbol for us to go home.


But there was this one time that my piece of cardboard had been damaged before anyone else’s. And rather than wait my turn, I thought I would try to see what happened if I tried to roll down the hill on my side.

I wasn’t even this smooth.

I don’t recommend this to anyone.

I made myself sick (because I get ridiculous motion sickness) and tore my favorite pair of shorts. They were just a simple pair of elastic waistbanded shorts that my mother had made. We were so poor that she made a lot of our clothes. They were white with rainbow pinstripes. They went with everything I owned and made me legs look extra tan. I really miss those shorts even though they would never fit me now. They were my Technicolor Dream Shorts.

I would so wear this thing.


16 thoughts on “Cardboard Sledding

    • I don’t let my motion sickness stand in the way of a good time. I still ride roller coasters and everything. I think I have probably vomited more in my life than any three other people combined. I’m greedily taking someone else’s pukes.

  1. Oh my mother used to lament at the rate I went through clothes falling out of trees, cutting myself open and giving myself stitches.

    It’s nice to know I’m not the only one 😀

  2. I used to belong to a youth group in my early teens and on this one rainy day the leaders took us ice blocking on one of the steepest hills in the city.

    Nothing really prepares you for sliding down a muddy hill perched on a block of ice that’s only really big enough to fit one ass cheek at a time – and that was before the ice started to melt. Over the hour or so we were there, the softening ice blocks got pockmarked and lumpy and started catching on the littlest things, and we started getting thrown off pretty regularly and rolling the rest of the way down, making hilarious squelching noises in the mud.

    That’s about when the youth group leaders realized that they hadn’t quite thought this through, and now had to transport a bunch of muddy teenagers back to the rec center.

  3. If you like doing this then you need to:

    1. Go sledding or tubing down a snow covered mountain
    2. Go white water rafting and “shoot the rapids”
    3. Go skydiving
    4. Fly in an acrobatic plane

    As an added benefit, you can do all this in a technicolor pair of shorts if you so choose!! Game on!!

  4. Oh yeah – I tried rolling down the hill with my grand-daughter last summer. I’m not doing that again! Not only is the motion sickness a bitch – but then you have to contend with itching for the rest of the day from the tiny pieces of grass that somehow get all over you!

  5. My grandmother has this super-steep hill in her backyard which wasn’t filled in with grass when she bought it. That summer my cousins figured out that if you wet the muddy hill with the hose you could slide down really, really fast on a piece of cardboard. Fun times in Puerto Rico… 🙂

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