Thursday, January 30, 2014

Snow day memories by decades

This week's snow caused a flood of memories of snow day memories.  I decided to list my highlights by decades.

Late 1950's - Kinston, NC

  • A dusting of snow was all we ever got,  but Dad found enough to make a snowman.
  • Moms improvised southern style snow boots made from layering socks, shoes, socks, then bread bags secured with rubber bands, but every kid had a regulation snow suit. Go figure!
  • I got my first taste of snow cream - a delightful mixture of fresh fallen snow, milk and sugar. 
1960's - Greensboro, NC

  • The first ice storm brought us a winter wonderland of icicles, but no electricity, heat or school.  Dad drove the family back to Kinston until electricity was restored and schools reopened.
  • For one blissful winter, it snowed every Wednesday for weeks. We enjoyed snow days Wednesday, Thursday and Fridays and attended school Mondays, Tuesdays and most of June.
  • Same year, Hathaway Drive turned into a protected sled hill on snow days. Blocked off by the city, our hill featured a bonfire at the top, 4 inches of packed ice for maximum speed and the gruesome frozen blood in ice from an unfortunate kid's sledding accident to stop and gawk at on the walk back up the hill. 
  • The exhilaration of the run was everything! I remember my sisters, lined up with me and holding onto each other for dear life atop the Radio Flyer while friends performed the essential running push to ensure the fastest 2 block thrill ride of our lives. 
  • A few winters later I mastered the art of solo sledding - Hold the sled to the side, take a running start, drop face down to the boards only inches from the ice, grab the cross bar pulling back right or left to steer and dragging the feet to brake. (I can't believe we didn't break something!) 
  • Not long after my first solo, I survived my first sledding collision with a hint of terror, but a rush of adrenaline to fuel the long walk back to the top of the hill with an even more solemn stop at the blood in ice. 
  • I learned to share the family sled and alternated runs with my sisters. A bonus was time by the bonfire and sipping hot cocoa from a thermos. 
1970's Greensboro, Chapel Hill, North Wilkesboro and Raleigh, NC
  • Learned not only to drive, but drive on snow. Dad taught us to downshift the automatic transmission instead of using the brakes. White knuckled, we practiced steering with a fish tale instead of against it. 
  • The March snow storm in Chapel Hill the week after a Spring Break Bahamas trip, had me resenting the necessity of covering my dark tan with layers of wool, but enjoying the boy's surprise snowball ambush on the quad. 
  • Snow day Senior year I was delighted by a surprise visit from my future husband, Frank, and his friends. I fell in love with the black and white photo of Frank taken during the following snowball fight in our apartment parking lot.  I still have it… and him. 
  • As a first year teacher in North Wilkesboro, snow days were dark days of real worries my kids on Free breakfast and lunch plan might not eat that day. I'm sure some did not.  
  • Regardless of the severity of the storm and road conditions, my sweet husband braved it all to open the pharmacy while I got a snow day or a teacher's workday.  I never relaxed until he called to say he'd arrived safely.  
1980's in Raleigh, NC
  • As a first time mom with a snow day, I bundled my baby, Chris, in a snow suit, pushed him around the yard in a laundry basket and built him a snowman. 
  • Add little brother, Ian, to the family and I enjoyed the snow days even more. I became the biggest kid in the house and made sure the boys experienced snow cream, making snow angels and sledding safely down the driveway on a lame plastic trashcan lid. 
1990's in Raleigh, NC
  • We got the boys their own Radio Flyer sled. I bounced between adult knowledge of the inherent danger of downhill sledding and the childlike desire my sons experience the thrill of a good run.
  • A two night sleep-over at our friends house, during a long week of snow days in the mid '90's, was the highlight of the decade. My sons got to sled and romp in the snow with their best buds while the adults supervised and/or added wood to the fire, made chili while sipping spiked apple cider, aka "Rocket fuel". 
2000's in Raleigh
  • 2000 started out with the wildest - a blizzard with 22" of snow. My ever inventive boys shoveled pathways around the front yard for our Jack Russell to disappear into, relieve herself and run her little heart out.  Standing on the deck or at the front windows was like watching a mouse run a maze - crazy! 
  • December 2005 and the surprise one inch ice storm that brought Raleigh to a standstill was most surreal.  I thought watching a city bus slide down the street outside my office door was astounding, but the 8 hour commute home was astonishing.  Imagine my reaction to finally making it home to find out my son, Ian, had just returned home from slip-sliding on the back roads to meet his buddies at a local restaurant. Unbelievable! 
  • The night the Christmas pageant ended with a snow shower was a wonderful God moment… until the Associate Pastor, a kid at heart himself, announced it was snowing.  Keeping the kids focused and singing instead of trying to get a glimpse of the snow flakes was a struggle, but no one minded.  Even the older adults were excited it was snowing and turned to look!
2010's to today - 
  • Winter storms are named like we name hurricanes. I guess 24 hour news and weather channels must create weather hype to keep us watching, tweeting and posting. 
  • This is the first decade we got most of our information about winter weather and snow days from friends on social media. I've gotten weather updates and pictures from friends and family as far away as New York, Chicago, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Colorado faster than TV news can deliver.  I especially enjoy the pictures of my friends sharing in that first snow experience with their own children and some with their grandchildren. Makes me smile! 
  • High Tech aside, what I will remember most about this week's Winter Storm Leon is we didn't need Weather Channel to tell us it was coming, nor that it would bring snow to… of all places… NC beaches. You see, 10 days ago, while enjoying a weekend at the beach with friends, we experienced a winter thunderstorm. Any real Southerner knows…. If it thunders in the winter, it will snow in 10 days.  And 10 days later, it did! It snowed here in Raleigh AND at the beach! 

Go Ahead - Google it!