When I was a kid growing up in the ’60s, it seemed like there was snow on the ground from November through March. It always snowed on my birthday, which is in January. Deep snow, too. Maybe it just seemed deep because I was shorter then, I don’t know. But I do know that I loved the snow back then. Sledding, tobogganing, ice skating. Loved it all, every second of it. To me, snow was the ultimate playmate.
I remember having so much snow and it being so cold that my brother and I made a snow fort in the front yard and played in it for months. I remember snowmen that lived on the lawn for months too. I remember sledding down our front hill into the road, which, back then, had very little traffic. Now, we fondly call it “Theresa Street Speedway.”
I remember ice skating on the streets. I remember sledding at Katzenbach, Cadwalader Park, and someplace in Hopewell. I remember snow pants with suspenders, heavy boots and gloves that were so thick you couldn’t make a fist. I remember woolen hats that I took off because they slid down and covered my eyes, and hair that froze.
I remember peeling off the layers of winter clothes and being soaked with sweat. I remember taking a hot shower to thaw out, drinking hot chocolate made with milk and Hershey’s syrup, and eating homemade soup. I remember the ache of my feet after taking off my ice skates. I remember the smell of wet wool and fresh winter air.
Nothing stopped us back then. No matter how hard it snowed or how cold it was, we were outside in it. I remember days off from school because of the snow and I remember standing at the bus stop in weather so cold the hairs in our noses froze. I remember carrying my school shoes in a little zippered tote bag and changing out of my boots in the classroom.
I remember pulling my little brother on a sled (which we still have – the Yankee Clipper!) and intentionally hitting ruts in the road so he fell off. I remember him being so bundled up that he would just lie there on the ground unable to move, yelling until I lifted him up and plopped him back on the sled for the walk down the Broad Avenue hill.
I remember smashing snowballs in each other’s faces. The snow would slide down our collars and when we got undressed at home later, little bits of ice and snow always fell out of our clothes. Making snow angels, lying on our backs looking up at the sky while the snowflakes danced down onto us, eating fresh snow.
Nowadays, one look at those stupid little perky snowflakes on the 6ABC weather forecast makes me want to slap someone. Snow has become a big hassle. BIG HASSLE.
Back in 2011, I bought a snowblower. My husband and eldest son Georgie told me I was crazy to buy one, that we didn’t need it, that it didn’t snow enough to warrant spending that money. In their defense, we hadn’t had any significant snowfall for several years. But I had a feeling that it wasn’t going to last. Plus I hate, hate, hate shoveling snow.
I hate to say I told you so, but what the heck — “I told you so!!”
Who has the last laugh now, suckers? Ironically, George, once he gets that thing fired up, ends up snowblowing everyone within a five-mile radius. (Okay, maybe not FIVE miles). I have trouble steering the snowblower, so I am formally (and vehemently) exempt from using it. The first time we used it, I tried to do our driveway and ended up on the front lawn, screaming for help and getting pelted by bits of grass and mud and ice.
It’s nice to reminisce about when I was younger and had little to no sense about the horrors of snow. But lately, if truth be told, I’d rather be doing my reminiscing from a lounge chair on a warm beach with the Gulf of Mexico lapping at the shore.
Stay toasty, my friends.
Ilene Black has been a resident of Ewing for most of her life and lives across the street from her childhood home. She and her husband, George, have two sons, Georgie, 32, and Donnie, 28. A licensed soccer coach, Black was head of the boys’ travel soccer program in Ewing for many years and ran the township’s annual Labor Day Soccer Tournament for several years. She is the creator and moderator of a Facebook group called, “You Know You’re a Ewingite When…,” which has more than 1,000 members.