Skating

Water, water everywhere.
Marshy ground, ground water,
watery cricks and sloughs.
In summer kids fished creeks
by the present Vail Jewel,
off the bridge near the tracks at Douglas.
On the Snow Queen's watch,
she transformed kids into
Hans (and Helga) Brinkers,
fleet feet skimming icy streams
of unconsciousness.
Farm boy Philip Laseke
hosted weekly skating parties on a two acre pond.
Long underwear, but no warming houses.
Lanterns lighting the shore
that later lighted the ways home,
but no hot chocolate.
Once he and his brother wended
a wintry ribbon of ice
from Long Grove to Wheeling
where the creek entered the Des Plaines River.
At almost one hundred,
Al Volz warmed to the memory
of skating frozen Weller Creek
from Arlington to Des Plaines.
John Annen and his friends set their blades
on frozen slough where Arlington High School
would one day be,
and flew west to Salt Creek.
Meyer's Pond was mecca to schoolchildren.
Bernice Collignon and her friends glided
the duck ponds between Davis and the tracks.
Some few had shoe skates, but most strapped
blades to their shoes.
At seventy-eight, Philip Laseke strapped on skates
and tested his muscles' memory.
"It felt natural,
like getting on a bicycle.
You never forget how to skate."
He was pleased with himself.
John Annen

His father taught him to drive
when he was eleven.
Not for solo excursions.
To accommodate his mother's errands.
"My first time alone,
I was fifteen.
I drove three couples
into Chicago to the Aragon."
Hoisted on blocks from fall rains
to spring downpours,
cars were useful for summer outings.
"My folks liked to picnic
at Meyer's Pond, take a lunch,
swim in the pond."
Starved Rock was an all-day excursion.
"The picnic lunch
was planned ahead. We went to Mass
along the way.
"For our grand approach to the park,
we backed up the hill at the entrance.
The car could only make it in reverse.
"We always had a flat tire,
coming or going."