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Carl Springberg's Backyard Rink
Cadillac, Michigan USA


1979
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1959
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1976
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Wow!! I love pics of rinks from the past. Jack says his father made this rink for many years. It made lots of fond memories for people through out his neighborhood. Thanks for sending this Jack. Below is an article written by a lady from Chicago about Carl:

The digital thermometer outside the Wrigley Building read Tuesday, December 21, 1996 - 12 degrees. This is officially the first day of winter, and all ready the air is below freezing. The sun is peeking through the clouds as I walk down Michigan Avenue toward Marshall Fields to buy a new scarf. Winter winds are intensifying, and a warm scarf is an essential guard against the piercing air. We don't have any snow on the ground here, but according to this weather report, six to eight inches of the white stiff was dumped on northern Michigan last night. I am glad I am not there! Passing by the man-made skating rink on State Street, I see a mass of people gliding and twirling on the ice. A few young boys chase after a group of girls and one of them falls, sliding feet first into another skater. Happy screams and laughter can be heard above the din of the holiday music blaring from the speakers. This scene sparks fond memories of my youth and the days spent at our neighborhood ice rink.

What I remember now is not just the skating, but the camaraderie shared and friendships forged during that period of my youth. The creation of our neighborhood ice rink was truely a labor of love by Mr. Springberg. He worked many hours, day after day preparing the ice for us kids. I believe I appreciated his efforts at my young age, thought not to the extent I do now. Life was different back then in our small town. People opened their homes more freely without the safety concerns of modern day. There was an innocence that can never be recaptured, even in Cadillac, Michigan. The memories warm my heart, making today's frigid air slightly bearable. I momentarily abandon my quest of a scarf and reminsce...

The dawn of a new day was slowly emerging on the horizon. Though the sky was still relatively dark, I could tell by the brilliant violet hues that this was going to be one of those crystal clear blue-sky days. As the weather reporter predicted, a good six to eight inches of snow had fallen overnight - excellent.

Viewing the birth of a new day always struck me with a sense of awe, no matter how many times I witnessed the scene. It was this precise moment that felt amazingly connected with the spirit of Mother Nature and the beauty within her arms.

Rubbing the crustiness from my eyes, I looked out across my backyard, through the neighbor's yard, and down the dirt road leading the to Springberg's house. Only the small outdoor light on the side of the house shone through the grayness of morning. Squinting, I could make out the figure of Mr. Springberg shoveling snow off the ice rink. I turned my gaze toward my younger sister, Cindy, who was still sound asleep. She had buried herself so far under the blankets so that the only portion visible was the top of her heard from the nose up. She looked like a little angel. The alarm clock showed 6:15 a.m., more than a few hours before Cindy would be waking.

I kept waking through out the night, looking over at my alarm clock -- 1:27, 2:40, 4:25... when finally I just could not sleep anymore thinking about the day ahead. Every time I closed my eyes, I saw the shiny ice rink glistening in the sun. It was like the nights following a day of blueberry picking at Higgins Lake when I'd close my eyes and see only blueberries. Saturday had arrived, No school, no homework, just a full day to play. Even on the weekends I was an early riser, a characteristic most likely inherited from my mother. She was probably downstairs right now drinking coffee and reading the paper. I kept thinking today didn't seem like an ordinary Saturday. Of course, the reason was because THE Saturday all the neighborhood kids had been anxiously awaiting all winter: Opening Day at Springberg's Ice Rink! I wondered if Mr Springberg anticipated this annual event with as much excitement as we did, and imagined that he did.

Last evening at the dinner table, Dad made the long-awaited announcement, "I spoke to Mr. Springberg today. He said the rink was all set to go for tomorrow and to send your kids down in the morning."

"Cool!" said Bobby, jumping up from his chair. " I'm going to call Andre and Denny."

So the news spread like wildfire throughout the neighborhood, and all the kids went to bed with visions of the upcoming day dancing in their heads. There was definitely going to be crowd down the block tomorrow.

At this early hour, the house is silent as I crawled out of bed and put on my pink fuzzy robe and matching slippers before the cold air had a chance to grab me. Tiptoeing to the door, I glanced again at my sister, wanting to rouse her and share the excitement, but knew there was little chance of that happening!! Some days she would lie there until noon. Then only after I came in shouting. "Cindy, time to get up! the day is half over sleepyhead. Come on!" She would barely open her eyes and moan, "what time is it?" She'd remain in that suspended state until she was good and ready to get up. How could she sleep so late, especially today?

Upon opening our bedroom door, I heard the muffled sounds of cartoons and the aroma of strong coffee filled the airl That meant both Bobby and Mom were downstairs.

"Good morning, glory," said Mom, looking up from the newspaper smiling.

"Morning," I replied.

I sluggish slick down the stairs. Entering the den, I saw Bobby lying on the floor in front of the television. "hey, Bobby, are you ready for so skating today?"

"Yeah, man. We should go over there early before anyone else and be the first to test the ice. Want to?"

"Right now? Can we?"

"Why not?" Bobby held the remote, flicking through the channels in search of Bugs Bunny, our favorite cartoon.

Mom must have overheard our conversation because she came in the den. "You guys can't go outside yet. It's too early, and I was going to fix French Toast for breakfast first. How does that sound? It's pretty cold outside today, so you'll need to bundle up." she said walking to the kitchen.

Bobby and I watched Bugs Bunny while mom prepared breakfast. Mom made the most delicious French toast! With a little butter and warm syrup. it melted in my mouth. We were fortunate to have a mother who was home to do this for us. So many of our friends mothers were either working outside the home or still sleeping, leaving the kids to fend for themselves.

Soon, Dad came downstairs, and the four of us sat down in the kitchen to eat. We had fresh Minute Maid orange juice, crispy bacon and French toast with Log Cabin syrup. It was a terrific meal to begin what was sure to be a terrific day. Deb and Cindy were still sleeping. even after Dad had told them breakfast was ready. They were both late risers so mom made extra batter and kept the griddle warm for them.

After our last bites of food, Bobby and I ran upstairs to change into long underwear, turtlenecks, sweaters, and wool socks. We ran back downstairs to put on our snowsuits and boots. Within minutes, we were ready to go skating. "have fun," mom said to us on our way out the back door.

The sky was brightening up as walked the snowy road, skates slung over our shoulders grinning from ear to ear. Across the street, Mr. Buehler was already shoveling snow from his driveway. We believed he lived for this activity, as we saw him out there a few times during the day, whether the snowfall was significant enough or not. We waved and shouted hello, which prompted his Great Dane, Michigan, to run over and jump up on us. Mr Buehler would call him back and continue shoveling. We walked the rest of the way, throwing snowballs and talking.

When we arrived at the ice rink, Mr. Springberg was outside to greet us. "Good morning, Jonees. You're certainly here bright and early, but you're not the first ones. A few other kids are already on the ice. Looks like they beat you to the punch." He laughed a little as he said this.

"Good morning, Mr Springberg," we both replied. We headed down the side path to where he had lined up a few wooden benches for us to sit on as we changed out of our boots and into our skates, I was surprised and a little disappointed to see others here before us, but guessed they had to same idea as Bobby and me about being the first to test the ice. Looking around, I saw the hockey goals back behind the rink. The boys would drag them onto the ice later for afternoon hockey games.

We laced up our skates and stepped onto the ice. Gliding over the glass-like surface, I savored the rush of cold air against my cheeks. My friend, Cathy showed up with her sister, Sarah, and we took turns demonstrating our twirls and Hamill-camels. Eventually Cindy and Deb showed up with the Meyers and Dolacks. Soon the rink was covered with kids. A few parents stood on the outside chaperoning the activities. Occasionally, someone would fall and bruise a bone, but rarely were there any significant injuries. We were having too much fun to let the spills phase us. Walking by later in the day, one could still see many of the neighbors there enjoying themselves. After dark, the lights would come on for night skating. The older kids and some of the fathers would play hockey. I would look out my window before bedtime and see the figures darting around on the ice.

This was how we spent our Saturdays and Sundays for the remainder of winter. After a few hours of skating, a group of us would walk to our house for hot chocolate. If we were lucky, mom had homemade chocolate chip or oatmeal cookies freshly baked too. We'd play pool or watch TV and thaw out, pleasantly exhausted from the day's outside activities.

As an adult, I return "home" to visit my parents once or twice each winter. Most of my friends have moved away, though a handful of families remain. During that time, I walk or jog around the old neighborhood, down past the Springberg's house. The little white brick house with red trim sets quietly. The sunken yard is covered with snow, void of the smooth gleaming ice of yesteryear. At the time, I doubt my friends or I were fully equipped to truly appreciate the kindness of and generosity of Mr. and Mrs. Springberg. Some of us still keep in touch through parents of when we're back in Cadillac. With age comes maturity and we all agree the we were very fortunate to have such a place to expend the energies of our youth. There was a larger community ice rink at the fairgrounds, funded by the city government, but the atmosphere wasn't the same. People were paid to make that facility. Without the money, it would not have existed. Our rink was created voluntarily. We weren't asked to pay for use of the space, although I'm sure our parents would have paid for it in order to have us stay in the neighborhood, Us kids probably would have spent our allowance if we needed to.

Even though I've moved on the big city, that slice of small-town life remains inside. At this moment, I have a vivid picture of our neighborhood ice rink awash with kids skating, laughing, and hollering. Mr. Springberg is standing on the side, snow shovel in hand. He is wearing his brown hat with the fuzzy ear flaps, big rubber snowmobile boots and a wide warm smile.

 

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Last Updated on Sept 7, 2009