Do you remember when you were a kid in school and the weather forecast began telling tales of impending snowstorms? First it was a watch, then a warning, and then the big heavy flakes started to fall and the snow began piling up in the yard, and on the street. You started to hear about school closings and you wondered and watched if your school name would come up on that little moving line at the bottom of your TV set. You went to bed hoping and praying that your school would have the sense to call a snow day because of the hazards that heavy snow could do to kids standing at the bus stop, and getting to school. Heaven forbid you would ever be stuck at school. From your knees you said, “Please God, let my school be closed tomorrow.” ” I want a snow day.” Your parents watched the news and got the scoop often after you went to bed and they greeted you in the morning with the most fantastic news. ” No school today kids.” ” It is a snow day and they called school off for the day.” You jumped out of bed with glee and couldn’t wait to get your winter gear on with your boots, grab your sled, pan, or whatever, and you rocketed out of the door to the neighborhood for a day of fun on the local hill in the snow. Man, they were great days and if you have kids today, or grandkids, you still live those marvelous hours of watching the weather and hoping for your kids, that they call school off……….for a snow day.
When you live in a winter environment you get used to the snow and the cold, and snow days are like gold because they not only mean no school, but in my case as a kid and as in the case of the Hasley kids seen above, it was the signal for a parent to blow off work and pack you in the car to take you skiing. The Hasley boys went this past week with their uncle and left the school days long behind in the rear view mirror as they rocketed towards the mountains. Smiles on their faces and facing a perfect day of powder on the slopes and ……no school. Funny how the roads are impassible to school kids and buses but ok for a trip to the mountains. When I was a kid, we couldn’t wait for Bob Rose to call us and tell us to be ready in 10 minutes. We would all pile in the car for a day which was a bonus to the weekend trips that were the norm with Bob Rose at the helm.
Fast forward to high school for me, and I was given permission to drive my mother’s 1964 Buick Special to ski. My folks were pretty lenient and trusting because they seemed pretty confident in my abilities to drive especially when my dad loaded sand bags into the trunk and had installed some pretty hefty snow tires on the rear wheels. In those days it was all rear wheel drive and it was important to have some weight in the trunk. I piled the skis down the middle of the seats along with my sister’s gear and whoever else I could pile into the yellow Buick and off we went oftentimes to a harrowing drive on the Pennsylvania Turnpike up into the snow covered roads of the Laurel Highlands. Parents today are so protective including me, but my folks always said, “Drive safely and come back in one piece.” Snow days were awesome because there was no question that my mom’s “Ski Bus” would be utilized for the day by all of us teenagers. It was real interesting one day when the convertible roof would not go back up. Why we put it down in the first place was pretty stupid, but pelting our friends with snowballs from the seats of the convertible was pretty amusing. That particular ride back on the Turnpike was pretty cold and we had a fair accumulation of snow on the floor and the seats. My dad was not too thrilled. But he got the roof fixed and off we went on the next…………snow day.
We always seemed to make the most of those cancelled school days. Either the skiing was first and foremost, or we just went sledding or tobogganing. When I was real young, I remember my dad building an ice rink on the back patio. He took two by fours and some plastic sheeting and made a rink and filled it to the brim with water. It would freeze and my dad would always test the ice before we could skate so that we didn’t sink through and cut the plastic. Once we got the green light, we skated every night after school and on the snow days, he would help us shovel the rink and the neighbor kids all came in droves to the McCloskey Ice Palace. Even my mother tried a few times and we have her recorded on a Super 8 film skating head first into the back wall of the house. My mom was a great mother, cook, wife and nurturer. But she was far from an athlete. Her skating skills were sketchy and she skied a grand total of two feet before she fell on her head and told us to take the damn things off. But they were great parents and seemed to revel in the fun of the winter especially ………the snow days.
Those teenage days of driving the yellow Buick taught me to drive in the winter and my current days of driving a four wheel drive almost feel like cheating. I learned how to feather and pump the brakes, control a slide and not panic, and know how fast was ok and how fast was dangerous. But snow conditions never keep me from skiing and even today as the 59 year old kid, I revel in the days when the doom and gloomers tell us how bad the weather is going to be. I take it all in stride and like the Hasley boys, I can’t wait to get to the slopes and enjoy those first tracks. The Jeep has taken over for the long gone ’64 Buick but those memories of all of us piled in the car headed to the slopes will always be cherished. Thanks Mom and Dad for the opportunities. I know you are looking down from the heavens,and shaking your head and saying,” He’s still crazy.” “I hope he comes back in one piece.” Thanks for reading.