Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown — Snow Days

My father-in-law during a big snow storm before we were born (late 40s-early 50s) courtesy Marilyn Trube used with permission

My father-in-law during a big snow storm before we were born (late 40s-early 50s) courtesy Marilyn Trube used with permission

You remember what a delicious feeling it was. Dad comes into your bedroom and tells you that you can sleep in today. School is cancelled because of a big snow fall. Maybe you were up and heard the news on the radio and jumped up and down with jubilation–especially if you were supposed to have a test or do a report that day. At very least you had an unexpected day free of classes, cafeteria food or sack lunches, and bells.

I don’t remember that we had huge numbers of these in Youngstown. Unlike Columbus, which seems to cancel school at the drop of a snowflake (we joke in my house of it being “the great white death”), you had to have more than six inches of snow–a real blizzard that was ongoing–to cancel school. Otherwise it was boots on and off to school. Parents all knew how to drive in snow, and the worst that happened was that sometimes you were tardy–and sometimes you got a break on that.

But there were those rare times when we got buried on a school day. Usually, the first thing was to help the parents dig out. We only had a short stretch of sidewalk but a long driveway that went down a hill to a detached garage. Houses were pretty close together so when you were between the two houses, the question became where to put the snow without piling it up against the neighbor’s windows. That was a bit of work, but the reward was to come in to some hot chocolate and a warm house.

Then there were all those great outdoor things you could do. I remember building snow forts and having epic snowball fights with friends. Usually when it snowed heavy, it snowed wet and it was great for making blocks of snow (a wood or sturdy cardboard box made a great mold!), and of course the snow packed well for snowballs.

There were also snow men, which seemed to be something we did when we were younger–complete with some charcoals, a carrot nose, an old hat and some sticks for arms. Sometimes it would get really cold after these snows and our forts and snow men would hang around for weeks. Unfortunately, back then, they would also start turning a bit gray as soot from the mills would settle on them making them look a bit grubby unless we got a fresh layer of snow. I don’t think we thought then about the fact that we were breathing this stuff as well!

Of course this was a great time to go sled riding as well. I discovered on my recent post on sledding that many of us called it “sled riding” back then. I also learned that in addition to Calvary Run and Glacier Avenue and Rocky Ridge, there were a number of other awesome places around the city to go sledding like “Suicide Hill” (also called Ski Hill) in the park, up at Crandall Park and the Kensington Hollow, St Joseph’s in Campbell, Ipe’s field in Brownlee Woods and many others. Some readers of these posts reminded me of how our parents would put bread bags over our feet inside our boots to keep our feet dry and how all our boots smelled like bread!

Often, we would get home by late afternoon, pleasantly tired, just in time to watch some of the late afternoon TV shows for kids like a show that we remember as “Four O’Clock Showtime” (we’re not sure of the exact name but it had all these great old sci-fi flicks). All those outdoor activities worked up an appetite, but suppers in working class Youngstown were usually early, sometime around 5 pm so you weren’t hungry for long. Then as evening came along, you realized that there would be school tomorrow, and you better do that homework (if you hadn’t already!).

I still find myself wishing for snow days–until I remember that I do a good deal of work out of my home and that the internet is still up and even if I can’t get to the campus where I work, I can still work from home. But visiting those memories recalls the delight of those wonderful words “schools closed”.

What are your memories of snow days?

 

7 thoughts on “Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown — Snow Days

  1. I can remember walking to school on one of those days when they clearly should have called a snow day. Hood up, boots buckled, scarf wrapped around my neck and mouth. The wind and snow blowing so hard, and tears rolling down my cheeks. My mom did not drive. About half way to school- I turned around and went home. I remember getting there – and my mom was all warm-still in her housecoat and slippers, having a second cup of tea. I got double pneumonia.
    I have fond memories of sled riding, and winter fun… But every time I read an article about how we were tougher then, and things were better then…
    Both parents usually did not work back then. So many things are different. Roads and our lives in general are far more congested.

    • There were probably some days they should have cancelled school! Sounds like the one you described would have qualified. Thanks for reading and sharing your own memories!

  2. Pingback: Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown — Shoveling Snow « Bob on Books

  3. It seems to me we had at least one snow day every year. They were a gift from God–a day that was going to be full of fun, frolic, laughter, and camaraderie. Strangely, I guess, one of my favorite parts was the gathering of neighbors all out shoveling, pushing cars up the road, dealing with the challenges together. (I so miss that sense of community. Most of the neighbors lived on East Evergreen for years until the mid-1960s.) We’d come in from the cold at last, kick off our snow boots and lay our wet gloves on the hot radiators to dry.

  4. I remberer comming in from sledding covered in snow on my woolen snow jacket and leggings. Mom made me go to the basement and brush me down with a broom to get the snow balls off my clothes. My cheeks would be so red from the cold. I would be shivering and hot chocolate would always be waiting. We played so hard it was hard to keep my eyes open. We didn’t realize we were in heaven already. What fun !

  5. I remember taking my girl friend to Suicide Hill and borrowing a sled from a little kid. Trying to be macho I had her get on my back, and off we went. At the bottom was a bump; enough of a bump to leap into the air, but followed with hitting the ground and loosing all the air in my lungs. It is very difficult to be “macho” and respond to “let’s do it again”, when you can not talk or breathe.

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