By Linda Ibbitson Hurd
Special to the Express
At the top of Elm Street in Hanson during the ’60s there was an ice cream place called Brine’s Dairy Queen where what’s now known as Mo’s Place is located.
Martha Brine, who started and owned the ice cream place, grew up with my father and became one of my mother’s best friends. Behind Martha’s house and to one side were hills where the Brine kids and many of us from Elm Street went sledding. In back of the house which looked down on Elm Street, a spacious field, a farm and homes below, proved to be the perfect place where the older boys made a ramp on one side of the hill where our sleds literally sailed through the air as we rode them over the ramp and landed safely on the snow-covered field, gliding to a stop.
On the right side facing the front of the house was another hill, less steep that was in the direction of where Ace Hardware is now. As long as we followed Martha’s rules, we were welcome. Those who did not were sent home.
I can still hear the shouts of happy voices, laughter, squeals delight and sometimes groans or disappointments when someone had to chase their runaway sled or if there was a tumble or a fall. Some of us had coasters that Bob Ibbitson, a cousin of ours who worked for Coca-Cola had, that were actually big metal signs perfect for coasting and so much fun to ride in. A cousin of the Brines’ who was older, got in a wooden milk box one day as we all gathered around to watch. Some of the girls told him not to do it, most of the boys cheered him on. He went down the smaller hill, the box picking up speed and it flipped, giving him a good knock in the head and tossing him out into the snow. Martha came running out, sent us all home and took him in the house. Luckily he was fine. The box was never seen again.
Martha had started a tradition of setting aside a special day each year for all the parents to come sledding with their kids. One year it happened to fall on Valentine’s Day. It was a beautiful, sunny Winter’s Day and my parents seemed exceptionally happy. The four of us kids got up early to make Valentine cards for mom and dad and they in turn gave us ours and some to each other. Mom was very busy that morning and my sister Penny and I were helping her in the kitchen. When it was time to go to Martha’s, dad loaded the sleds in his truck, and we followed in the car.
There was a good turnout of parents and kids. One family brought a toboggan, and the sleds and coasters were plentiful. The mood there that day was magical. Everyone was happy and so carefree. Martha was closed to the public that day and joined in the fun. The family with the toboggan offered everyone a turn in it and the coasters were full of both adults and kids and even one of the dogs.
As sunset approached and a full moon shone, I noticed no one was leaving. Martha turned the lights on in the Dairy Queen and the outside spot lights as well announcing the rest rooms were open for anyone who needed to use them. A group of parents were ushering Martha into the building and more parents were going to their vehicles and bringing things inside. Soon we were all inside. Martha seemed a little flustered. The counter inside and the tables were filled with all kinds of food and there was a very large gift on the counter.
One of the mom’s walked over to Martha and began telling Martha how much all of them appreciated her letting their kids come there every Winter to go sledding and making the annual family time there possible with their kids.
“We have turned the tables on you and we wanted to do something special for you this year,” she said. “We’ve brought food for supper and some good desserts. Happy Valentine’s Day to one of the most generous and loving gals we know. Before we all dig in, please open our gift!”
Martha was overcome as we all applauded and waited expectantly for her to open her gift, which was a money tree that she truly appreciated.
By Linda Ibbitson Hurd