Friday, November 22, 2013
Post Deadline Euphoria - this and that.
I'm finished! Revision deadline met one day early! Cookies, Christmas movies, and elf-ing for the next six weeks! Can you tell I'm excited? I'm so happy to be free of my little office that I can't think clearly enough to write something significant, entertaining, or educational. You're all so good at that. And the Thanksgiving topic has been beautifully covered. So, I'm moving on to winter and some random thoughts about it. I tried to find a common thread, but couldn't, so here's just euphoric ramblings on winter.
(To make matters worse, I may have already told you some of this stuff. If I have, just go watch The View, of the Chew (I really like that.) or read something fun.)
Snow Days in New Bedford, MA, in about 1953 were announced with the factory whistle - one toot meant we went to school, two toots, we stayed home. I so clearly remember hearing the first blow of the whistle and closing my eyes and praying for the second. When it didn't come, I dragged to school, when it did come, I put on my snow gear and walked a block to the house across the street from the Polish Hall where all the kids congregated. Susan Veer's dad always piled the snow into a good hill and we waited in line to go down it in somebody's toboggan. (this was the heart of the city, so this country treat was a thrill. We were even quiet and orderly, waited our turn, slid down the hill, screaming and cheering, then went to the back of the ever-growing line and waited again.
Then somebody would throw a snowball and all organization fell apart. After that, it got down and dirty. Forts were built and arsenals collected. When I went home to go to the bathroom, my mother would make me change my clothes because they were wet with snow. By the third or fourth time of the day, I was wearing my father's sweater, my sister's flannel pajama bottoms and socks on my hands because all my mittens were drying on the radiator. Those were the days.
I remember, particularly, my 8th birthday. (Birthday is January 1st. Want to write that down?) We hadn't had snow yet, unusual for MA, and my mother kept telling me the snow was waiting to show up on my birthday. We had a small neighborhood party and the sky was grey, but no snow. The weatherman even predicted it, but by the time I went to bed around nine, it still hadn't fallen. My mother shook me awake after midnight. "Come on," she said. "It's snowing!"
I'm crying as I remember this. One of my uncles had given me a wagon for my birthday. Mom and I carried it down the tenement stairs and into the snowy midnight. New Bedford is an old town, with early 19th Century architecture and globed street lights like you see in old movies. I remember looking up as I climbed into the wagon and seeing snow floating down in the glow of the lights. It was beautiful. My mother walked me around the block in my wagon, and she reminded me that she had promised snow for my birthday. I can still smell the cold when I think about that night. And I recall that she must have been tired after throwing the party for me, but she got up after midnight to make sure I enjoyed my promised snow.
One day, my friend and I were walking from her house to mine - a distance of about six blocks. We decided to take a street we didn't usually use and encountered a group of boys throwing snowballs and two of them grabbed me and pulled me into the yard. Jenny got away and ran to my house, where she probably said to my parents something like, "We were walking home and two boys grabbed Muriel!" Imagine how that sounded to them. It was just before Christmas because my father was home in the middle of the day to hear that terrifying announcement. Meanwhile, I had managed to get away from the boys, who wanted nothing more awful than to put a snowball down my coat. I got it away from them and threw it aside - just as my father stormed toward us, wearing the brown slacks he hung around in, a white T-shirt, and bedroom slippers. Jenny followed. He'd been helping my mother move furniture when Jenny ran into the tenement. He took off without even grabbing a jacket. The boys scattered. I remember that he wouldn't talk to me on the way home. Several people offered to give us a ride, surprised to see a man in just a T-shirt when there was snow on the ground. Dad kept walking. My mother explained later than he was just scared and he'd be fine tomorrow. That night we went for fish and chips at a place where they wrapped it in the New Bedford Standard Times. My father seemed to loosen up a little. As a grown woman, it breaks my heart to realize how much he loved me.
So - nothing significant. Just ramblings because I'm free! At least until the AAs come. Will you share your favorite winter memories?