Maybe this is one of those “when I was young, we had it tough” stories. But when I was young, we didn’t have snow days. At least, I don’t remember my classes ever being canceled due to snow, nor for any weather-related events. It might have happened, but I don’t remember any such occasions. Hoping for bad weather so I could stay home was not part of my growing-up years.
We didn’t have a lot of snow in Richland, Washington, where I grew up, but most winters there were at least a few snowstorms. And we often had “black ice,” which those over driving age feared more than snow. I’ve written about my dad letting me drive his new Capri after one snowstorm—my choir practice was certainly not canceled that evening due to weather.
I remember walking to the bus stop during my high school years in the snow. Over unpaved paths, uphill . . . both ways. (Well, actually, my route was fairly flat, but it was mostly unpaved, cobbled with large river rocks uncovered when a bulldozer cut a path through what would become the rest of Sierra Street some twenty years later.)
Some school days I’d worn tennis shoes in the morning, and was surprised to find snow when I left school in the afternoon. I still had to walk home from the bus stop. There were no cell phones to call my mother to pick me up. If we didn’t have prior plans for her to pick me up at school, I walked.
Far worse than snow in Richland was the wind. I had less trouble walking home in wet, icy shoes than I did in a 40-mph windstorm. On those afternoons, wind gusts blew me back a step as I trudged west up the unpaved portion of Sierra Street.
I went to college in Middlebury, Vermont. Vermont has a lot of snow. But classes didn’t get canceled there either. I slipped and slithered up and down the campus hills from my dorm to my classes. The grounds crew did a wonderful job of shoveling and salting, but of course college students made their own paths from building to building and didn’t stick to the cleared sidewalks and streets.
Most years at Middlebury, I lived in dorms without dining halls, so I had to bundle up to get to breakfast before my 8:00am classes. Not fun. Many students slept through breakfast on snowy mornings (and other mornings as well), but not me. I couldn’t last until lunch time without sustenance.
Then I had three years at Stanford. It only snowed once that I can recall in those three years. No need for snow days in Palo Alto, California.
Snow days didn’t become a factor in my life until my kids were young in Kansas City. I was fortunate that my children’s day care almost always stated open, despite the snow. Although their grade school closed due to snow a few days every year, the day care portion of the school stayed open. My kids were in the extended day program at the school, so I could still take them. They went, whether they wanted to stay home or not.
I only remember one day ever that the day care center called to ask me to come get my kids. It had already snowed six inches or so, and big fat flakes were still falling heavily around 4:00pm. I got on the freeway downtown with every other commuter in the city, inched my way over a bridge to the Northland where we lived, and made it to my kids’ school about the time we usually picked them up. What was usually a fifteen or twenty minute drive took me close to an hour.
The next day was a snow day for the school, but the day care center was open.
It wasn’t until my children were in high school that snow days became important for our daily planning. As were “late start” days—which was their schools’ nod at inclement weather that might delay students’ transportation plans but wasn’t bad enough to cancel classes. My kids and I watched the television on evenings when it snowed, hoping that school closings would be announced before bedtime. If not, we had the television on at 6:00am, my children still hoping for the good news of a day at home.
Of course, my husband and I had to go to work, no matter what the kids did.
It took several years after my youngest graduated from high school before I quit watching the school closings list on TV. Snow days no longer matter to me now—I can declare my own snow days, when I refuse to drive. I try not to, because I know I’m just being cowardly. But it’s not me I worry about, it’s the other idiots on the road. If I don’t have to deal with them, why should I?
What do you remember about snow days?