| When Hamilton Smith was four years old, he sat in front of a television set and watched some big boys sliding across the ice. He was not sure how they did it. But it looked like fun. He made up his mind he was going to try that someday. As Hamilton watched each boy on the television slide and twirl and jump to the music, he knew this was something he just had to do. Every time they came on the television he would run and sit right in front of the set. His mother would have to say, "Hamie please move so we can see too", for he would sit so close no one else could see.
He ask his mother how they did that, and his mother said they had skates on their feet. Hamie looked close and saw the skates. When he went to see Santa a few weeks later, he ask Santa to bring him some skates for Christmas. His mother had heard what he ask Santa for, and as they walked home she said, "you know Hamie skates cost lots of money and Santa might not be able to get you any this year. But I know Santa will bring you something nice."
Times were hard and Hamie's father was working two jobs just to pay the bills and put some food on the table. There was not any extra money for unnecessary things. His mother made most of the things they needed, like shirts and sweaters and pants and socks. She was hoping to squeeze out enough money to get Hamie a new coloring book this year for Christmas.
On Christmas morning Hamie helped his baby sister with her packages. She got a new dress, a knitted hat, some booties, and a doll with button eyes and yarn hair. Hamie got a new knitted hat, some knitted mittens to match, a new sweater, and a nice coloring book. Hamie just smiled and showed his mother and father what Santa had brought him. But his mother had seen the look in his eyes.
After dinner his father asked Hamie if he wanted to walk over to the park to see if anyone was making a snowman they could help with. Hamie laughed and started to get ready to go out in the snow. His new hat was warm and his new mittens made his coat sleeves not seem so short. He walked with his father the few blocks to the town park. As they entered the park, there were two boys on the right having a giggly snow ball fight. On the left were four children and two fathers building a snowman. But Hamie only saw the large skating rink in the center of the park. He walked right up to it and watched the people skating. For over an hour he stood and watched the skaters. Finally his father said they had to start for home. Only then did he take his eyes off the skaters. As Hamie had watched the skaters, his father had been watching him. When they arrived home his mother ask if they had a good time. Before his father could say a word, Hamie said, "oh yes it was wonderful". Then he ran to his room.
By the next winter Hamie was a big boy of five years old. He was in kindergarten now and had never said anything to his parents about skates. But every time there were any skaters on television, Hamie was there to watch them. He was big enough to walk to the park by himself, and would be next to the skating rink watching, every chance he got.
When it was almost Christmas his mother took him and his sister to see Santa. Hamie told Santa that all he wanted was a pair of skates. Nothing else, just skates. His mother was quiet on the way home, and talked in whispers to his father as soon as he came home from work. Things had been a little better this year. His father only had to have one job to pay the bills and buy food. So his father could be home more in the evenings, and spend time with his family.
On Christmas morning, Hamie ran to see what Santa had brought him. There were the usual packages with hats and shirts and things. There was even a big box of crayons. Hamie did not say anything and had a smile on his face. But he really thought Santa would give him some skates this year. When all the packages had been opened, his father said, "oh look Hamie, here is a package way behind the tree that we did not see. It has your name on it." Hamie opened the package and inside was a pair of skates!!! He jumped up and down and laughed and hugged the skates close to him. His parents just watched him with big smiles on their faces. After dinner his father said, "well Hamie, shall we go to the park and build a snowman?" Hamie just looked at him. Then his father said, " or would you like to go to the park and try out your skates?" His parents just laughed as Hamie got ready to go in record time.
When they got to the park Hamie took off his boots and his father helped him put on his skates. His father had brought along an extra pair of socks to stuff in the toes of the skates, telling Hamie how smart Santa was to get them big so he could wear them again next year.
Hamie stepped out of the snow and onto the ice and promptly landed on his butt. His father laughed and said, " looks like this will take some practice Hamie." Undaunted, Hamie got up and took a few steps and then fell again. He did this all the way to the far side of the skating rink. But he did not fall as many times on the way back. It did not take Hamie long to get used to the skates. Within a week he hardly fell at all. Before spring he was even skating backwards.
The next winter the skates fit Hamie well, and he tried to do all the things he saw the boys on television doing. Some of them he could do and some he could not figure out how they did them. Hamie spent every minute he could on the ice rink. He was getting to be a great skater. Everyone that saw him knew he was good.
His father had taken a part time job, working a couple hours two nights a week, so Hamie could always have a pair of skates that fit him. His father also was saving to buy a second hand truck. They walked everywhere they needed to go in this small town. But his father knew there was a skating rink, in the city, that was open year around. But the city was a 30 minute drive from where they lived.
|music: Olympic Spirit|