Yesterday I posted about the glory days of “snow machines” (the common generic term for snowmobiles in the circles in which I moved, as a little kid in Queensborough), when they were new and almost everybody had them and a lot of fossil fuels were burned and noise made as people discovered a new activity to while away the long cold days of winter out in the country.
I saved for today my recollections of what I like to think of as the snowmobile (or, if you like, snow-machine) wars.
As I mentioned yesterday, ours was practically the only family in the area that didn’t own one or more snowmobiles. So when the snowmobile wars broke out on the school bus as we rode to and from school every single day of winter (and often in spring and fall too) I was a disinterested listener. But I certainly can’t forget the passion that the kids – okay, the boys; this was not a debate that the girls got into – brought to their arguments as to why Ski-Doos were infinitely superior to Arctic Cats, Polaris (Polarii?) and Moto-Skis; or why (if the lad came from an Arctic Cat family), Arctic Cats were infinitely superior to Ski-Doos and Polaris (Polarae?) and Moto-Skis; or why, if it was the child of a Polaris family, Polaris was clearly the best; and – well, you get the picture. These discussions made for very spirited rides on the big yellow bus to and from school, but I have to admit that the finer points of the various snow machines’ qualities were lost on me, primarily because I couldn’t have cared less.
What wasn’t lost on me was the plight of one boy whose family was, as far as I could tell, the only one for miles around that had opted to go with the Moto-Ski amid a sea of Ski-Doos and Arctic Cats. Man, that kid put up with a lot of abuse over his parents’ (I’m guessing his father’s) choice of the orange machine over the yellow one (the Ski-Doo) or the black one (the Arctic Cat). But to his eternal credit (in my mind) he gave as good as he got; never was a more passionate defence of the Moto-Ski mounted by anyone, under any circumstances.
It feels like ancient history, and it is. But I bet I’m not the only one who remembers the school-bus snowmobile wars. It was a simpler time, one before kids on the bus were (as I imagine them to be now) glued to the screens of their phones or iPods. The snowmobile wars may not have made for a particularly enlightening or enlightened debate, but they were interactive and up-close and personal, and they required verbal dexterity and passion.
And in honour of the most spirited debater of them all: go Moto-Ski!