“Harmie Jones, Moses Scott, Walter Barndt, Annabelle Rand, Peter Cocklin, Preston Gough, Franklin Johnson and Michael Knightly– decided the only place they hadn’t tried sledding–besides, of course, the steps of the White House–was the State, War and Navy building.

It began as just kid-talk. Children with sleds, who lived in a city, with limited places to use their sleds: “Dare any of you,” said Harmie (short for ‘Harmond’), “to take your sled down the steps.” Harmie said this as they were pulling their sleds past the Public Library.

A concert of enthusiasm surrounded Harmie. “Great Idea!” then, “I will, if YOU will!”
Finally, one of the bunch declared, “You, FIRST!” It was that smarty-pants, Annabelle. The girl.

Of course, Harmie had a bit of an obligation to be first. It was his idea, after all. And, if he didn’t at least try, especially after being challenged by a dumb girl, well…how would that look?

Harmie Jones picked up his sled, a very nice one, with brightly painted, sturdy runners, sure to take the beating they’d no doubt endure, going down the steps of the public library.
Inside, he was frightened. Harmie was certain that his mom would be weeping into a hankie, blowing her nose, crying, “why?”, while he lay in a coffin neatly, dead, from a broken neck. Fortunately for Mrs. Jones, fate did not favor her son’s imagination, and Harmie lived through it.

One by one, the others followed suit: Annabelle Rand was next, followed by Johnson. Then the others took their turn down the steps of the library, and managed to live to tell about it.

The sledders saw their neighborhood with new eyes: Every building, especially buildings with ample steps, were possible challenges.

They really wanted to go down the White House steps. Of course, that wasn’t going to happen.

The next best thing, however, was the State, War and Navy building. The State, War and Navy building, was far more accessible, and certainly the most challenging.

Harmie Jones had much trepidation about this attempt. They were not just going down the flight of steps, from the landing closest to the street. That would be easy enough. No. They were going from the very top!

That Annabelle, the only girl in the bunch, declared that she would be first, and, she was going to start at the very top! Seemed she was always showing them up. And they were guys! What was she trying to prove?

The others were secretly afraid, every bit as Harmie, but did not admit it. Harmie ‘hmm’d and hawed’, offering reasons why they should not start at the top. The sleds might get broken, or they could get in trouble.

But Annabelle wasn’t buying any of it. “TRIPPLE-DOG-DARE YA!” She shouted, and dragged her sled to the very top, yelled, “Tally-Ho! Look out, below!” and conquered the steps–all of the steps–of the State, War and Navy building.

The only thing any of the boys could do, was cross their fingers, say a prayer, and hope they didn’t kill themselves. There was no way a girl was going to show them up. They’d die sledding before dying of embarrassment. Harmie hoped his Ma had plenty of hankies.

Harmie broke his right arm in three places, and was never again permitted to sled.
Everyone survived, and Harmie was the only one injured. His sled was messed up pretty bad, too.
Annabelle grew up, and became a hot air balloonist.

Not one of the children regretted that day. That was the day they flew.

see: http://dcwalkabout.com/blog/sledding-old-executive-office-building/

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