'If I live to be 130, I'll still be on the hill'
Jerry Cox, 74, of Janesville revives the magic every winter when he pulls his boyhood from the rafters of his garage.
He takes to the Ardon Park hill behind the Janesville Mall and relives the excitement he first felt as a 7-year-old when his father bought he and his younger siblings the Sky Plane sled with metal runners.
“It’s just a thrill to go sailing down,” Cox said. “I just picture myself as a kid again every time I do it.
“I find that the more times I go up the hill, the fresher I feel.’’
The sled is sentimental for Cox, who has been its keeper for 67 years. He also cherishes the 1940 Christmas card that features a photo of him, his three siblings and his dad on it.
He also has snapshots of himself and his siblings as adults on the sled.
“It brings back so many memories,” Cox said of the sled.
Cox’s father spent a lot of time with the children after their mother died in 1937.
“One of the things we enjoyed was taking that big sled out to Garfield hill or to Palmer Park. (Dad would) stand on the back with the four of us sitting in the front,” Cox said.
“It was like a sled full of love.”
Cox kept possession of the sled all these years because his twin sisters moved around and his brother was busy.
“Being the oldest, it was the easiest for me to have the responsibility of hanging on to it,” Cox said.
And every winter for the past decade when the snow is packed just right, Cox throws the sled in his truck and heads to the hill. After climbing to its snow-covered top, he calls his high school girlfriend on his cell phone and tells her he’s there so she can watch him from her nearby house window.
“She’s never come up to sled with me though,’’ Cox said.
Most of the time, Cox sleds by himself. But when there are children around, he lets them ride the sled, which differs dramatically from theirs.
“That’s always fun to watch. The kids get a kick out of it,” Cox said.
Cox plans to continue his sledding tradition.
“If I live to be 130, I’m still going to be up on that hill,” he said. “It’s such a joy.”