In spite of being in my sixties (I do hate to admit this), I still have a love for winter that I had as a child. Winter was not only Christmas, but it was also a special time of year for me. My memories of winter are probably similar to other people who grew up in the fifties and sixties.
Snow coming down always excited me. The snow meant making snow forts, snowmen, and having snowball fights. Unfortunately, the snow in the playground at Midland School was wasted during recess because snowball fighting was not permitted. I never tried to break this rule, so I never did discover what the punishment would have been. It was one of those rules that I didn’t understand in elementary school.
Winter also meant cold weather. As a Safety Boy, my corner was at Brush and Ferris. It was the furthest post from Midland School. When the temperature reached ten degrees or less, all the Safety Boys would get free hot chocolate in the gym. The hot chocolate sure helped warm up my cold bones after standing all that time on my corner.
One day, in second grade, the temperature went down to minus twelve degrees. Mom didn’t see a problem with the cold; however, she did drive me to school that day. There were only four other students in our class. Looking back, I wonder why they didn’t cancel school.
One year, we experienced a big snowstorm. I am sure that we had a couple of rare snow days. When we returned to school, several of us on our walk home took a detour through Ford Park. We were quite pleased to see that the city had dumped a lot of the excess snow by the running track. These dumps made perfect snow mountains where we could play, hide and toss snowballs from our hideouts. It is still a memory that I cherish in my mind.
Whenever we had snow, the city would do a great job of taking care of the snow on the streets and even in the alleys. Dad didn’t appreciate that the snowplow threw snow upon his car, but we didn’t have a garage. There was also the small snowplow that plowed all the sidewalks. This was an expensive luxury, which later in my teen years had ceased to exist.
As I became older, I also learned that winter meant work. I soon would be recruited to shovel snow on our sidewalks. To me, it seemed like our sidewalks never ended. Shoveling this white stuff was not my favorite part of winter.
Winter also meant that I would spend more time inside the house, watching more television than I should. Of course, there was Captain Jolly at 6:00 P.M., and then there were the Hanna-Barbera cartoons at 6:30 P.M. My favorites were Quick Draw Mcgraw, Yogi Bear, and Huckleberry Hound. I felt fortunate that there was an alternative to the 6:30 P.M. news. Living in the Detroit area meant that we had access to the Canadian station in Windsor.
Besides watching television, we would have family game time. We enjoyed playing Jeopardy, Password, and especially Scrabble. I always enjoyed trying to make up my own words with the letter tiles given to me. My favorite sentence was: “Is this a word?” My mother was quite patient with me during these games, though my older brother was not amused.
One last thing about winter that I remember was how cold my bedroom would become. The heat from the basement barely made it up to my second-floor bedroom. After reading to me, a story mom would cover me up with several covers and give me a kiss goodnight.
The winter appeared to go on forever. The snow stayed on the ground for three months. However, the snow would eventually leave the ground. The temperatures would rise, and spring would arrive. Baseballs would replace the snowballs. HIres Root Beer and Vernors would replace the hot chocolate. With warm weather, we would return to the alley to play our favorite games. However, the joy of winter would return.