The Sled

Over the weekend, the lights came down and the decorations were stored away. This included the beat up sled that my wife brought home from a craft fair several years ago. It’s wrapped in some greenery and battery operated lights, and sits on the front porch to greet visitors during the Christmas season. Well, during every other Christmas season. This year, there were few visitors.

When it first came home, I figured it for another mass produced “antique” that’s peddled to folks wanting something that looks vintage, but is really a modern knockoff. But when I looked at the back, I found something interesting. The name Louise Remley was painted on the back, along with the name of the town, Anamosa, Iowa. Well, I thought, that’s a clever touch. They went through the trouble to make it look like this belonged to an actual person.

Christmases came and went, and we pulled out the sled every December and put it away every January. But this season, when taking the sled out of the shed, I noticed the name again and started to wonder: what if Louse Remley of Anamosa, Iowa was a real person?

It didn’t take long to find the truth. After a little digging on genealogical sites, I discovered records for Louise Remley, born to a family in Anamosa in 1917. This sled was no reproduction, but probably a Christmas present given when she was a little girl. Mind blown.

How does a sled from Anamosa, Iowa end up in Upstate New York? Based on her obituary, Louise Remley, then Louise Remley Scott, died in 1999 here in the Capital Region. After living in several spots around America, she last resided with her husband, Ira Scott, in Niskayuna. Did she keep that sled for the entire time, possibly since the 1920s? That’s a tougher question to answer – but it would be odd if fate brought both her and her sled her independently.

I don’t know much more about Louise Remley, but I like to think she’d be pleased to know that her sled is on display at my home every year. To me, the sled has always been a symbol of the season, but finding out about its history gives it even greater power. When you touch the worn wood and rusted runners, you’re making a connection to the past, and a child’s joy.

2 thoughts on “The Sled

  1. Very interesting
    I’m 66 years old and still have my sled from when I was a kid and put it out with a big bow on it at Christmas time.

  2. Huh!

    I’ve been through and in Anamosa many times . . . it’s on the nicest driving route between Des Moines (where we lived) and Dubuque (a very cool city, where my wife had a hospital client). It has a state penitentiary that is architecturally stunning, and I’m sure I’ve got some photos of it in my digital file cabinet. Also a good Grant Wood gallery, as it’s the nearest place of any size to Stone City, Iowa, which is the subject of Wood’s probably second-most famous painting, after “American Gothic,” (I’ve been to the house where that was painted too), and is if I recall correctly is where Wood was born and buried. And, finally, a very cool motorcycle museum. One of the things that impressed me when I first moved from the 518 to Iowa was the pride and value that small towns all around the state placed on their historical societies and museums. Once I got my job running a museum in Des Moines myself, I spent a lot of time networking with and getting to know others around the state, and that Anamosa one was a good one!!

    I offer that as color commentary to enrich the story of your sled. The community from which it sprang was pretty cool!

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