Saturday, January 23, 2016

The Snows Of Yesteryear

The Troutmans, so far...
Christmas Day
1969
Since I turn 50 in the next few months, I feel that I am now old enough to use the term "back in my day".  I mean, if I am old enough to be a member of AARP, then I have the right to wax sentimental about the days of my youth.

As folks along the east coast dig themselves out from under Winter Storm Jonas, I thought about how the winters have changed since I was a kid.  Back in my day, as I remember it, we didn't have occasional snowstorms that would occur sporadically throughout winter; it would start snowing sometime after Thanksgiving and would continue - for the most part - until March.  There always seemed to be snow on the ground.  There never seemed to be snow, then melting, then nothing, then snow again, like there is now.  It used to snow big time.  And now when it snows, it's big time news.

I remember Mom putting plastic bread bags on our feet before putting our boots on. Whether just walking out to the bus or (eventually) walking to school or playing outside, those damn plastic bags had to go on our feet, regardless.

I remember the ridiculous amount of time it took to get ready before going out sledding or to play in the snow: full snowsuit, boots, hat, gloves, muffler, scarf, and several layers of clothes.  You built up a sweat before even stepping outside.  It became almost impossible to move in that outfit.  Once you fell on the snow, it might take 10 minutes to get back up.

I remember the hats my Grandmother would crochet for us every few years.  They were made from very thick yard and, man, were they warm!  It's missing it's original puffy ball on top, but I still have the one she made me in 1976.  It was red, white, and blue, as was just about everything that year due to the bicentennial.  I still wear it on really cold days.  I haven't found anything the keeps my head as warm.

As you can see, Kevin gets a kick out of it.

I remember walking across the alley and sledding down Carters' hill.  We used cardboard boxes, inner tubes, and wooden tobaggans before plastic sleds were created. The goal was to get as far down into Bowser's yard as possible, disregarding the fact that it would be a really loooong, exhausting walk back up to the top of Carters' hill.  The fun typically ended when someone started crying, either due to snow in the face or just being too cold to continue.  It was the signal that we had been outside too long and it was time to go back in.

I remember shoveling out the driveway . . . A LOT, then hiking over to Granny's house to shovel her sidewalk.

I remember a night when we went to Granny's, and my relatives and neighbors were already there sledding down the hill on her road - at night, running into parked cars and bushes and fences.  Night time was always the best sledding time.  And then we piled into Granny's house for homemade ice cream with Grape Nuts.  Nothing worse than when your insides are as cold as your outsides, but it sure was nice.

I don't actually know how correct I am about all this, but this is how I remember winters: consistent snow from December to March with no real breaks.  If that is so, I imagine it was perhaps harder then, but for some reason it seems simpler.