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?
I love the images you paint, Muriel. And a New Year's Day birthday...how wonderful is that? Congrats on making your deadline early!ReplyDelete
Hi, Rula. Until I was about eight, my father had me convinced that the celebration in Times Square was in my honor. Made sense to me. Then one day I thought, "Hey. Wait a minute . . ." Have a wonderful weekend!Delete
Woo-hoooooooo! Free for the holidays :) It doesn't get better than that! Congratulations on turning your revisions in- and a day early!.ReplyDelete
I LOVED your winter ramblings. I hope you write them someday- in a memoir perhaps?- they are so beautiful and convey such a nuanced slice of Americana. I can't read enough of it and always feel disappointed when I've reached the end of your posts! I love how your community used the one toot two toot signal for cancelling school- and your description of how you spent your snow day with your friends was so full of joy. My mother-in-law walked to school from her upstate NY home but she used a toboggan to glide home for both lunch and after school since she lived on a mountain. I've always been enchanted with that image as I am with yours! Have a great weekend :)
Those upstate New York people know how to deal with snow, don't they? At least her toboggan put some fun into wintery school days! You have a great weekend, too.Delete
I think I've never liked snow. I've always worn glasses and my mom made me take them off when kids went out to build forts and have snowball fights. Everything was a scary blur to me. After I graduated and moved to Portland, OR to work at the Medical School--it's at the top of Sam Jackson Hill. When it snowed the interns and residents skied down from their apartments to work. Our cafeteria had really huge metal food trays. Once a bunch of us swiped them out of the cafeteria, waxed the bottom and that evening with the winding road closed, we had a high old time sledding on the food trays. Of course they occasionally went over rocks and the next day we were afraid to take them back all scarred like they were. The head of the hospital gave a lecture over the intercom about the cost of Medical School property. But none of us squealed and it really was fun.ReplyDelete
Muriel, loved your rambling memories.
Thanks, Roz. What a great note about sledding on the food trays! There's a scene! Also empathize with you being without your glasses - 'scary blur' really makes me feel for you. Thanks for the input. So much fun to hear everyone else's stories.Delete
Such tender stories! Thanks for sharing. You could have been a bit nicer about rubbing in that you're done writing for the rest of the year. Although, if I had 6 weeks off, I'd be Jonesing for a story by week 2!ReplyDelete
Hi, Mel! I will so enjoy my free time - after I clean the house. The terms 'Jonesing' is new to me, but I can imagine what it means. I don't do that deliberately when I'm off, but somehow, it can happen unconsciously. Some unusual person or situation, and you find yourself giving it backstory. Sorry about rubbing it in - but I'm free! Happy Weekend.Delete
You've made me cry and miss my daddy who would have done the same thing.ReplyDelete
I lived three houses from a farm that had a hill. We used our sleds all winter. But, there was barbed wire at the end of the hill and if new kids were around, we didn't always tell them. Luckily, no one got hurt.
I agree with Karen. You need to write a memoir in the shape of fiction.
Maybe you and Karen are right. Will have to think about how to approach it. I think having a good dad does so much for a girl's sense of self. So happy you had a great one, too.Delete
Oh, and I had a deadline yesterday. Right now, I'm doing the dedication and reader letter. Sometimes they take as long as a chapter.ReplyDelete
They do! Hope you get to enjoy the holidays free of deadlines, too!ReplyDelete
Just FYI everyone - Liz Flaherty is now a Heartwarming author! Am so happy for her. Thought you'd like to know since she's sort of been one of us all along.ReplyDelete
Woo hoo, Liz! congratulations!!!ReplyDelete
Muriel, you have an amazing voice and I love your ramblings which are so much more than that. You paint wonderful pictures in the readers' minds and evoke an emotional response that lasts after reading the words. Thank you so much for sharing these pieces of your life with us! My mom is a fan of yours as well :)
Thank you, Syndi. And thank your mom as well. It's always exciting to me when someone who isn't related to me likes my stuff!Delete
Muriel-your 'nothing significant' post is one of the most touching posts on this blog! I need to read your books-I wish I could say I'll have time over the holidays, but I'm still on deadlines...Soon! Beautiful memories:)ReplyDelete
Jen! Keep working! Thank you for the kind words. Its too bad we can't all Vulcan-mind-meld each other's books. It's really hard to read when you're writing and running a household.ReplyDelete
I’m from Connecticut so much about what you had to say rings true for me as well. I’ve been wondering what I could say in my blog – due tomorrow – and decided to follow up with some of my memories of snow. Thanks for the inspiration.
Marion. Can't wait to read it! As a child, used to visit friends of my parents in Stonington. What a pretty place.ReplyDelete
Thanks for the welcome--and for sharing those memories. I have three older brothers who mostly ignored me, but when there was snow on the hills of my uncle's farm, they dragged me up and pushed me down until they had to have been exhausted.ReplyDelete
And, Muriel, I love your memories. I nearly cried over your birthday one, too.Delete
Thanks, Liz. Older brothers can be the worst! Although, I do recall my sister Lorraine pulling me on my sled, then abandoning me when I fell off of it and was so bundle up, I couldn't get up. To make sure she never forget that, I sent her a sled ornament every Christmas.Delete
Can you tell it's after midnight? Make that 'bundled' up and 'forgot' that. Don't know what made me think I could publish without proofreading first.Delete