During our frigid snowy weather, I’ve been spending some time reading columns I wrote about 30 years or so ago. As I look over what I was doing back then, I’m really glad I’m not young anymore.
Way back then our school-aged children had to walk three blocks to school. Usually that wasn’t so bad, but when the temperature dropped to the single digits and below, I really felt sorry for them. True, I bundled them up so well that if they had on one more scarf, they could have rolled to school, but still it was too cold.
I talked it over with Bill, and we decided I would get up early and take him to work so I would have the car to take the kids to school. My famous last words were, “We can’t have these kids out walking in arctic air.”
Our oldest son, the one with a paper route who apparently had been listening, got up and began to put his heavy coat and boots on. “Where do you think you’re going? I asked.
“Gotta collect for the papers,” was his response.
I put on my assortment of layers planned to beat the cold, and we drove the route, and we both collected so it didn’t take so long. According to my notes it didn’t really seem so cold until we got to almost the last stop and a lady asked, “Did you know the temperature is -8 degrees?”
Right after that I deliberately drove the car into a snow bank. I was sliding toward a street that was usually busy, and I couldn’t see what was coming because of the snow piled up on both sides. As we worked to get the car unstuck, I heard my son mutter, “I knew I shoulda got Dad to drive tonight.”
At five the next morning the temperature was still below zero, so I dragged out and took Bill to work so the kids would not have to make the freezing walk to school.
On the way home I stopped downtown at Wagner’s Bakery to get the kids some fresh rolls for a breakfast surprise. There were a few people there. A Deputy Sheriff walked in and someone asked him if the schools were going to close. He said, “Yep, Greenville and the whole county.”
According to the column, I didn’t say anything. I just stood there and thought a lot. I thought it wouldn’t look right for a grown woman to stand in the bakery at 5:30 a.m. and cry. Besides if I did cry, the tears would have frozen.
Way back then, when they closed the schools, the kids always managed to get up early. It was too cold to go out, so they stayed in and entertained each other. They’d turn on the television, then the radio, and finally the record player. Then with all three blaring, they would have to yell at each other so they could hear what was said.
Then they’d beg to go outside and play. They’d prove it wasn’t too cold by checking the thermometer on the porch and ultimately by sticking one finger out the door. If the finger did not turn blue and fall off, it was warm enough to play outside.
The biggest battle was getting them dressed warmly enough to go out. I thought they needed more insulation than they did. My orders flew and their objections followed. My final argument was “the look” which they were free to interpret as anything they could imagine. Their imagination usually won the argument for me.
Finally they were all bundled up to my specifications, and they raced out to play with great enthusiasm and warmth. As the warmth faded so did the enthusiasm, and in less than 10 minutes they were back inside to start the whole cycle all over again.
Ah, yes, there definitely are times when I’m glad I’m not young anymore.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: This column was first published in the Greenville Advocate February 26, 2003.
Kathleen Floyd is a volunteer citizen columnist, who serves The Daily Advocate readers weekly with her column Back Around the House II. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.