Sand in the Trunk and Other Winter Things – Linda Knight Seccaspina
Two months ago I got my winter tires on my car. As I listened to the roar of the heavier tires, and watched them throw my tire sensor system out of whack, I had to laugh at some old memories.
My late husband Angelo used to argue that winter tires were “for people from Toronto who have to call in the army to shovel the sidewalks when it snows.” That was until one day he backed down my father’s snowy Miltimore driveway in Bromont and removed part of his fence. Not content with believing his Delta 88 could do such a thing he attempted to reverse again, only this time he hit the mailbox.
Through the years as he got older he began to realize living in a rural area needed snow tires. One day I overheard Angelo tell my oldest son Sky to get his head out of the sand and put some winter tires on his car. I just smiled and realized things just take time to sink in. It was similar to that proudest moment of being a parent when my child agreed it was finally cold enough to wear a hat.
Arthur Knight, my late Dad, always insisted that you kept bags of sand in the trunk for traction in case you got stuck in the winter. His 70s Ford Pinto was loaded to the brim with bags of sand, and when I went to visit him he always insisted on tossing some in my trunk too.
It was supposed to add weight, and if I ever got stuck, the sand could be used for traction, he said. I never actually got stuck, so I never had to use the sand. He said he learned the hard way hitting every ditch on the Brome Pond road one winter with no sand or salt in the trunk and a bunch of lightweights riding in his car with him. Somehow I doubt that a couple of sandbags, add or subtract anything is meaningful to the traction of a vehicle today that already weighs a few tons when empty, plus a few hundred pounds with a driver and passenger. But, weight was significant in the days of rear wheel drive, because most of the weight was in the front. I can well remember in my youth, the only way I got up an icy hill (not having heeded my father’s advice about the sand) was to have a couple of my friends climb into the trunk to put some weight over the back wheels.
Every year AAA publishes advice for winter driving and putting sand or litter in the back of a car is always on the list. I personally prefer cat litter because it’s relatively inexpensive (non clumping, non scented) and provides decent traction.
I decided to look this traction myth up on Snopes.com and the page was completely blank. Had Arthur Knight had it all wrong? I found a few discussions on a few automotive boards and one man had this to say.
“So while extra weight generally improves traction, the only safe place to put it is in between the wheels. That’s why, for traction, we suggest car-pooling. In fact, when recruiting car-poolers, you could start by putting up a sign at Weight-Watchers.”
After more research I decided to go back to Snopes where I found another link about the topic. Again the page was blank and the lone entry was about a woman called *“The Human Couch”.
Word on the street goes that a very large woman had to be brought to the ER after she had experienced shortness of breath. While they attempted to undress her an asthma inhaler fell out of one of the folds of her arm. A shiny new dime was under her breast and a TV remote control was found somewhere else on her body. Her family was extremely grateful that she was okay, and that they found the remote.
It’s easy to see I don’t care for Winter one bit, and if there is one good thing that comes out of snow, cold and ice is the fact I haven’t seen a mosquito in a really long time.
*( Brown, Mark. Emergency! True Stories from the Nation’s ERs. –New York: Villard Books, 1997. ISBN 0-312-96265-7 (pp. 32-33).
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