Crowd Is Ill-Bred.
In addition to this, several ill-bred children had gathered to watch
my progress and I am sorry to report that they greeted my efforts with
unseemly laughter. It also pains me to think that several older persons
joined the group and openly encouraged the bad manners of the young by
their ill-timed jesting. I flatter myself, Mr. Editor, that I have an
acute sense of humor, in fact, I am known as quite a humorist at our
local church socials and parlor gatherings, but I also have a sense of
the fitness of things which ever keeps me from jesting at the misfortunes
of others in such a predicament as I found myself at that moment.
Because of this unseemly conduct I have mentioned I became nervous
and at length unstrapped the skis and walked up the hill to the store.
There my advent, bearing the skis, the ski-stav and the market basket
under my arm, occasioned no little interest.
Quickly our grocer executed my orders and filled my basket to
overflowing with good things. Undaunted I went out into the storm and
strapped on the skis.
Now for the Run Home.
With tingling pulse I contemplated the wild, free swoop down the
three-block hill and my skimming return home. I hummed a gay tune as I
confidently shuffled away to the brink of the declivity.
Like a flash, in fact, a little sooner than I had anticipated, I
began my flight.
As I had expected I skimmed the hard crusts, the skis slipping
smoothly and with ever-accelerated speed.
I rose to my full height and uttered a sharp, musical call of glad
freedom as I sped. As last I was tasting the sweetness of untrammeled
wild life. I felt kin to the soaring eagle in my flight. My heart beat
in tune to the pulse of the universe.
Then to my utter horror, I observed a person coming up the slope
toward me. The blood froze in my veins.
In vain did I seek to deflect my course, to achieve the Telemark
swing which I had previously done so easily. There was no time to
accomplish this feat. Scarcely had I seen the person, scarcely had the
first alarmed note left my lips when we collided.
Was I in any way to blame, Mr. Editor, that the person should be the
Rev. Mr. Lukenwater, pastor of our church? What part had I in his
climbing that particular hill at that particular moment?
And I wish here to unqualifiedly deny certain malicious rumors now
current, that after the collision when he and I found ourselves facing
from opposite drifts, I used language toward a minister unbecoming a
I may have spoken hastily in the stress of the moment, perhaps I did,
but I did not speak any words reflecting in any manner upon the state of
the Rev. Mr. Lukenwater’s soul or his hopes of salvation, neither
did I make any remarks to the effect that his skull was of “solid
ivory,” as some have whispered.
What took place between the Rev. Mr. Lukenwater and me in that
snowbank is a matter between two Christian gentlemen. We have both
forgiven and forgotten and I have since received a note from the Rev.
Mr. Lukenwater, upon the occasion of a generous gift to the foreign
mission work of our church, in which he assured me that like a true
Christian, he desired that only peace and loving kindness reign between
When I rose, somewhat dazed and bruised, from the collision I
discovered to my horror that one of the skis had become broken beyond
repair. Worse than that the other was so tightly strapped to my foot and
the straps so encrusted with snow and ice that it would not loosen. I
was therefore obliged to flounder seven blocks through the drifts,
buffeted by blizzard, terribly hampered by the dragging ski upon my left
limb, crawling at times on hands and knees. In fact, several times I
gave up all hope of ever again seeing my wife and little ones, but I won
through, thanks to the indomitable fighting blood which is my proud
heritage from a family of fighting men.
Exhausted, coated from head to foot with snow and ice, bruised and
bleeding, I staggered into the kitchen of my home. Then for the first
time did I notice that my basket, which had been so bounteously filled
with provisions, dangled from my hand—empty.
The Last Straw.
But my wife, brushing me, straightening my clothing, and soothing me
with loving words, affected to make light of the loss. Worse than that,
I then bethought me to look through my pockets where I had thrust the
change of a twenty dollar bill. That, too, was gone. So was my watch, a
I cannot paint my emotions at these discoveries and I hesitate to add
an account of the capsheaf of my misfortunes, but a regard for truth and
a desire to right myself in the eyes of the world demand it.
Suddenly my wife’s cooing voice changed. She pointed an angry
finger straight at me.
“Henry Steinkopf,” she snapped, “you forgot to mail
I repeat, Mr. Editor, that I lost all that was dear to me save my
family because of those deceitful skis. My watch was gone, my money was
gone, the groceries were gone, even the string around my finger was gone,
but there, dangling from the pocket of my coat so that a breath would
have dislodged it, was the forgotten letter.
In that moment I “saw red,” as the phrase goes. I went
berserk. I longed only for some person on whom to vent my wrath.
And at that moment the kitchen door was flung open and Mr.
Storksjol, thrusting in his head, asked with a coarse laugh, “You
like those skis, I guess, wearing them into the house like that?”
It was then that it happened. My only regret now is that I was
unable to inflict more damage upon him. The ski strapped to my left foot
proved a great handicap. Could I have wrenched it free I think I should
have broken it across Mr. Storksjol’s head.
I believe, Mr. Editor, that in my position, you would have done the
This story ran in the Seattle P-I on February 6,
1916. When the story was published, Seattle had been buried in snow
for most of a week and odd tales of citizens coping with the weather
were becoming widespread. I think this story is fantasy. But I like
to think of it as one of those stories that is true, even if it never
happened. —Lowell Skoog