Were they the good old days?

Source: Clipartbest

Source: Clipartbest

It seems like every Monday is a bad weather day. Schools are closed. Businesses delayed.

Even if I have no specific plans, I don’t like being forcefully incarcerated by the weather. I get grumpy.

When I was young, schools rarely closed because of weather. I was bused. It wasn’t a big deal except the buses were later because the drivers put chains on the tires before starting out. Remember when we put chains on tires for traction?

My mother would tell me how lucky I was. She went to school before busing. She had to walk over a mile to get to school and it was all rural roads without sidewalks and nearby houses. Back in those days winter clothes weighed 20 pounds! No Polar Tec!

She always told me the story about the time the snow had gotten so deep during the school day. On the way home she was cold and tired and fell into a snow bank. She couldn’t get up. She was quite a distance from home. Fortunately, her mother had seen her from the back window and sent help out to get her.

That story, whether true or embellished, served her for my entire school career. I was truly grateful that I didn’t have to walk great distances in bad weather.

Then I went to work where I had to drive in any kind of weather to get to work. I slid into snowbanks. Spun around in circles. Fell on the pavement. Spent an hour chiseling ice off my windshield. Except for a multi-car collision, everything that could, happened during my many years of commuting.

None of my stories have the same impact my mother’s story did. Maybe it’s because she could have died or the chance of getting help was slim.

People have pushed me out; helped me up; and commiserated with me.

One of my favorite stories is when a friend and I got stuck (I was driving) and my car wouldn’t start. It was winter, wet, cold and nighttime. As we sat in the car waiting for help to arrive, we both commented on how wool coats stink when they get wet. (I know…you had to be there. It was funny at the time and we still laugh about it 30 years later.)

What makes it less scary is that there are people around who are willing to help. These are the same people who will cut you off at the Starbucks drive-through entrance or flip you the bird for no reason at all. Sprinkle some adversity on and people get nicer. It’s like Christmas time when people are happy and kind for exactly a week before reverting to their former dreadful self.

I have been very grateful for these temporary transformations. It’s what binds us together as humans. It’s what got me out of snow banks.

27 thoughts on “Were they the good old days?

  1. It’s true, Kate. Bad weather and adverse conditions do bind us together.

    I’ve been thru many of the snow-driving experiences you had. My most dramatic was when we were vacationing years ago in Fairbanks, Alaska in March. I know how to drive in the snow. I had a commute of 55-miles one way to work and, of course, another 55 back home. Well, I flipped the Ford Explorer I was driving and it landed on its roof. I wrote about this. It was an SUV which sits higher up and I had overcorrected when I hit an icy patch. Fortunately, we were rescued by two state DOT employees who waited with us until state police arrived about an hour later. We were not hurt. Thank heavens!


  2. I feel like I have the same story as your mother! I was a walker and NOTHING was every plowed or shoveled, you just did it. Snow day? What the hell was that? Today we are raising powder puffs for god sakes.
    Wool coats do smell when they’re wet, but I love them anyway.


  3. Your mother’s story is impressive, hard to beat.

    My dad must have had some stories about the trials and tribulations of the good old days. He ran away from home when he was 15, built trails for the CCCs, worked as a logger, helped build Grand Coulee Dan, and fought in WWII. But he didn’t say anything about any of it. He seemed to take it all for granted.

    I don’t have any snow stories to speak of. I do have stories about typhoons and floods and daily power interruptions in the Philippines. My daughter must have some good snow stories from the two years she worked in Siberia, but she’s like my dad. She takes it all for granted.


  4. Seems the worst situations can bring out the best in most people. (We shall not discuss the looters who remain hidden until everyone evacs during hurricanes)
    Wet wool was smelly – between that and the itching. (We couldn’t afford the expensive kind that was soft as a kitten…I stumbled upon a fine wool blouse on sale once in college and was angry the secret had been hidden from me for so long)
    Sadly I had to walk a mile from the bus stop to home in secondary schools….mud and rain instead of snow, a little ice, though. Once in Elementary school I once tripped over a curb into a very very flooded street during a downpour. One of the neighbor moms was watching out her window and called to check when she saw me go in my door. I was worried my mom would be mad since I ripped off a button trying to get the wet clothes off. It’s true. I was the pitied latch-key kid on the block.
    Snow and dark is a much scarier situation!


  5. I dunno if I think that they were the good ‘ole days. Wool is itchy and those huge old cars were a bear to drive. Kind of prefer my polartec and front-wheel drive little coupe. I’m all about the ezpz!


  6. Kate, your post reminded me of how nice everyone was after 911. I remember commuting to work the weeks following, people had the American Flag on their cars, no one was cutting you off or honking the horn. Unfortunately that didn’t last.


  7. Yeah where are the good old days? I know I misplaced mine. But my wife swears they are in that closet that we both are afraid to open…nah!


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