Having been born, schooled and residing for decades in Belfast, the memory of winter sliding the streets of Belfast is etched indelible in my aging soul.

My first real, store-bought sled was an American Flyer built in Paris, Maine. It was a Christmas present my dad bought at the Fred D. Jones & Sons store on Main Street in Belfast. I broke the sled in on Pine Street. In those days the city blocked off streets where kids could slide. One was Pine. But sliding from Congress to Cedar was a sissy run only for little kids. We little kids never thought of ourselves as little.

So for a longer, daring run we’d start up at Emery Sprague’s barn, slide through Congress, through Cedar and through Court to a field just before Church Street. This run was frowned upon by parents and town cops, of course, so we’d post sentries. Puggy Sprague was usually the sentry on Congress because we could beat him up. Gerry Vaughan, a girl for all occasions, handled Cedar Street with George Kelly on Court. Mackie Vaughan, a Congress Street big kid, settled all sentry disputes, such as those over stolen mittens.

But THE hill was Allyn Street, named for Rufus Bradford Allyn, an early 1800s Belfast lawyer and the seventh in descent from Gov. William Bradford of the Plymouth Colony. Allyn was blocked off to car traffic from Northport Avenue to Byron Greenlaw’s house at the foot of what was once named Steamboat Street. It had carried that name because the Boston steamboats stopped there at Capt. Henry McGilvery’s shipyard pier.

Allyn in the winter was incline mayhem. These were the years before electronics invaded the kid world. The best friends a boy kid had in those winter days were his sled and his dog. Girl kids had no dogs and left their sleds home so they could have the pick of the Allyn litter — both boy and dog.

Imagine 200 kids and 300 dogs on Allyn Street on a Saturday afternoon! Dogs that didn’t have kids came anyway. Half the kids sliding downhill chased by howling dogs. The other half trudging to the top with their sled ropes tied to dog collars.

Bigger kids had to take care of their little brothers and sisters. Reggie Jenness toting his brother Francis, Neil Stephenson with one of his siblings. I think Neil had 100. No family was too small or too big to have a piece of Allyn.

The best slide started with a running slam — run as fast as you could and just when the feet were going out from under you, you body slam the sled. Girls couldn’t (or wanted to) do this and some, like Gerry Vaughan, could slam on top of you. These double slams caused a lot of bloody noses among the boys. At any given time there were at least 20 bloody noses on Allyn. Gerry Vaughan caused 15 of them.

But nobody really got hurt in all that Flyer mayhem. That’s because kids in those days wore body armor — wool. Everybody wore wool underwear, wool hats, wool muffler and mittens, wool pants, wool shirts and wool mackinaw. We were the itch generation. Any kid hitting a tree with an errant sled would just bounce off because of wool body armor.

Preferred boots for kids were three pairs of wool socks and for boys, buckle overshoes. They were homely as hell but sexy. We’d buckle the overshoes half up and shuffle along. The metal buckles would hit each other and make a tinkle tune which caused some kind of erotic trance in the girls.

Girls, of course, were as big a part of Allyn sliding as the hill. My eye and Flyer were mostly set on Maxine Bachelder, Barbara Dunbar and Sis Weymouth. But Barbara was the one who I craved a slide slam with. Just when I had her convinced for a slide slam one snowy Saturday, my dog Hardtack took off after a bitch in heat with my Flyer in tow. I found my Christmas sled down by the Little River pumping station two hours later. Hardtack came home three weeks later just all skin and bones.

Little kid boys didn’t have a chance with the girls when the big kids showed up. Stubby Stark had a 10-man bobsled that would do at least 400 knots. Talk about an aphrodisiac. Stubby and his big bobmen would load their bob plank with giggling girls almost like canning peas while we boys looked on as only orphan ragamuffins can.

Not only that, Stubby and his bobthugs would take the girls over to Date Stephenson’s store at the Foot of the Square and buy them a box of Cracker Jacks with real surprises. We boys had to choose between competing with Stubby’s bulls and saving our two bits for the Tom Mix double feature at the Colonial. The bulls always won.

Sometimes, if it looked like Stubby’s big gang was going to settle in for the day on Allyn, we boys and our dogs would head for the Muck where flat ice made a level playing field. We liked to think the best of Belfast girls followed us. In fact, some did and married us.

So there Big Bob Stubby Stark, wherever you are.

Mike Brown, a former editor of and columnist for The Republican Journal, lives in Northport.