Seven youngsters in the Twin Cities area will always remember the winter they learned to skate.
On a small piece of land where their backyards adjoined, their dads nailed some boards on top of one another. When the Minnesota skies turned frigid, the families turned on their garden hoses and filled the enclosure with water. It froze over, and they poured in another inch of water. Then another.
After just a week or so the families had created a miniature ice rink. The youngsters strapped on their new Christmas skates and with pint-sized paddles they learned to swat a puck back and forth. Eventually, two nets went up and the dads began teaching their youngsters all the finer mysteries of the sport of hockey. The miniature ice rink was envied by other children in the neighborhood and each afternoon they’d gather and play. They learned the rules of sportsmanship. And of friendship. And of taking turns.
Then the letter from the Homeowners Association arrived. The ice rink was illegal and had to be immediately removed. A violation of the demand would mean fines, liens, lawyers and lawsuits. There was no one to appeal to, no neighborhood gathering where the kids could plead their case. The ice rink had to go.
Seven youngsters will always remember the winter they learned to skate. And the winter they learned their backyard activities weren’t welcomed.
Yes, those seven children will always remember their childhood in Oakdale, Minnesota. And the Oak Run Shores Homeowners Association.