Monday, January 19, 2009

Winter Fun in the '60s

For those of us growing up on the north side of town in the 1960s, a favorite place for outdoor winter fun was the North Hill Shopping Center at Tienken & Rochester. The shopping strip was a little shorter in those days than it is now, and featured stores such as Cunningham Drugs, Kresge's, RB Shoppe, and a Wrigley supermarket. At the south end of the building there was a fairly steep embankment that made a fine sledding hill, and my Dad would take my sister and me up there occasionally for an afternoon of fun in the snow. The best part, for me, came after our mittens, boots and snow pants had become sufficiently packed with ice and slush from wiping out as we careened down the hill. Dad would usher us in to Cunningham's, which still had a soda fountain in those days, and buy us a hot chocolate with a generous dollop of whipped cream on top. If we were lucky, we'd also be given a dime each to play the pinball machine that was located just inside the door.

Mom's idea of winter recreation was ice skating. She'd take us down to the municipal pond and we'd slip around on those goofy double-bladed kid skates that buckled onto the bottom of our snow boots with a couple of leather straps. Each winter, after the ice grew thick enough to be safe, the fire department would flood the pond to put a nice smooth glaze on it, and it was a pretty popular gathering place on winter evenings. The Lions warming shelter at the west end of the pond usually had the fireplace going, and we'd stop in to thaw out our fingers and toes and then head right back out to the ice.

These days, we've got the Fire & Ice Festival, complete with fireworks to break up the winter boredom. That's coming up this weekend, January 23-24, and you can click here to see the schedule of events.


  1. Knew this well, growing up in the North Hill sub just beyond the plaza. I was there in the sixties, too. Were you in that neighborhood?

  2. Remembering Rochester grew up in the Albertson Addition, just a couple of blocks north of the Dairy Queen.