In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me:
As He died to make men holy, let us live to make men free,
While God is marching on!


Friday, December 19, 2008

Remembering "Snow Days"

Ironically, today in the Brockport school district wasn't one of them (much to the dismay of my wife Melany, who drives a Brockport school bus), but it was in most other districts in Western New York. I had the good sense to stay home from work and avoid being stranded in downtown Rochester this evening, when today's storm (predicted at 8 to 12 inches of snow, and we've gotten almost all of that foot) was forecast to peak. Unfortunately, this accomplished little more than an exchange of mental for physical labor, as I was outside for a good 3 hours today, in a couple of different sessions, shoveling from the driveway all that crazy white stuff in the picture obscuring a house across the street.
The day started out pleasantly enough, for all that. I listened to the radio, as I do every weekday morning while in the shower, and heard the ceremonial Reading of the School Closings List. This sent me into a reverie of snow days in my youth on Grand Island, New York, when children would wake before the crack of dawn on an unusually blustery, snowy day (as distinguished from the usual blustery, snowy day) and tune the radio dial to AM 930, WBEN in Buffalo to find out if there was going to be school that day (one dressed and otherwise prepared as if there would be, but in a pokey way so as not to waste effort in case the Blessed Event actually occurred). Back in the mid-1960s there were no web sites on which to post the School Closings List (deplorably lacking in drama for today's children, I think), and I don't think it was even done on TV, which in any case didn't go on in our house on a weekday morning until Captain Kangaroo (8 a.m.) at the earliest, by which time we (my two brothers and sister) would already know if school was closed. But I digress. We'd listen intently to hear the prescribed lead-in theme to the Great Reading, and if it was played, with hearts thumping and bated breath, press our ears to the radio to hear Clint Buehlman (see picture) intone the alphabetical List: ". . . [whatever] Central, [whatever] Central . . ." We'd be on the verge of passing out as he hit the "Fs" and then the climactic "Gs" (I think Gowanda was the last item before the Deliverance we were all awaiting). If we finally heard Clint utter the magic words "Grand Island Central," we would, as one being, explode in a shout of joy rivalling anything ever heard in Paradise (on the other hand, if for some infernal non-reason he skipped over our place in the alphabet, we would unleash a collective groan of consternation and heartbreak that, I have no doubt, echoed in the depths of Perdition). We would then happily doff whatever school clothes we had on in exchange for play clothes, and if breakfast were done, perhaps catch The Captain (or whatever else might be playing on a weekday morning, which I can't recall any more) and have Mom bundle us all up in snowsuits bloated enough to make Apollo astronauts jealous, and go outside to play in the wondrous mountains of white (you know the drill: snow men, snow forts, snow balls, etc.). When we couldn't stand the cold anymore--at least 15 minutes, probably--we came back in and, through mouths too frozen for intelligible speech, ask Mom to dis-assemble our suits this time, so we could go read, play, watch TV, fight with each other, or do whatever else indoors that we might find amusing. Being blessed with a loving and very patient mother, we'd pause in our Day of Triumph for a nice lunch of warm tomato soup, a bologna sandwich, and milk. Oddly, as the afternoon wore on, boredom would set in and we (well, I--I can't speak authoritatively for my siblings) would start thinking with some fondness about the next day in school. That is, unless the next day was also unusually blustery and snowy, in which case the hallowed ritual would begin again . . .
If any of these recollections are faulty, they can be corrected by my siblings or our Mother, who, I'm sure, has nothing but the warmest memories of those delightful Snow Days!


It's A Wonderful said...

You never cease to amaze me. Your eloquent words perfectly captured a snowy day in the lives of four little children. Those were good days, weren't they, boys? And you're right. Mom was so patient with us four...that was a wonderful memory. Thank you. Oh,except for lunch...I don't eat bologna. AND, I think that perhaps you were alone in your nostalgia for school the next day. Love you!

Donna said...

I bet we could give your snow a run for its money! We have tons here...and it's still snowing! Plus, I have the curse of snow... like when we were in Vegas they got the worst snow storm in 5 years!

Thomas Fleming said...

OK, Donna, you're on! Post some pictures of this big Idaho storm to your blog--or I'll put them up here--and let's see who's really got the worst of it! A Snow-Off!