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Wednesday, December 2, 2015



Val @  posted recently about snow and snow days.  Val is a teacher preparing to be a basket maker after this school year ends.  It is interesting hearing about snow days from a teacher’s point of view.  I always assumed teachers didn’t like snow days.  I thought they missed the chance at their daily being mean, and particularly hated that some kids got away with not finishing their homework, or being prepared for a test.  Apparently, according to Val, teachers also like the surprise day off, and many teachers are human like the rest of us.

Interesting, who knew?

For me snow days were the best.  Back in the day when school districts weren’t afraid of law suits from people who suffered accidents trying to get to school in a blizzard, it took a real big storm to cancel school.  Today it seems they call off school if the weather report predicts a dusting.

In the fifties and sixties in the North East, school was not called off until there was at least eight to ten inches on the ground and more to come.  Sometimes even that was not enough snow to have a cancellation.

For us kids, the anxious anticipation started the night before the snow hit hard.  The weather dude was calling for a big one, no sense studying for that Bio test.  Around ten at night the snow started to fall and you went to sleep with visions of snow fights and sledding in your future.

At six am you awoke to ten inches of snow glistening in the now bright morning sun.  “Ten inches? Crap, that is border line; they were calling for 18 inches with the storm continuing until the afternoon.”

Now panic set in… “I should have studied for that test… friggin weather dude.”

Too late now, just had to turn on the radio and listen to closings and pray.  The station was WOR, “Rambling with Gambling,” a show that spanned several generations of Gambling’s, but was only listened to by anyone under the age of 17 to hear school closing announcements.  We had no internet, and no telephone call system, school closings were only announced on the radio.  

It seemed like forever before they announced your school, and they never said if your school was opened, only if it was closed, so without definitively hearing your school called there was always some hope.  You listened intently so as not to miss your school.

“And now the school closings… Don Bosco, Westbury, Perth Amboy…”

Fucking Don Bosco, they were always the first announced and they closed if it smelled like snow.  I have since learned that Don Bosco is on top of a large hill, they always get more snow, our rain is their ice, and the hill is never plowed or sanded in time for school.  Regardless, we always thought that Don Bosco was a bunch of sissies.

“Plainfield, Scotch Plains, Clark…” The announcements came in no order, I guess just as they were called in.  Our school, Westfield often was not called.  In some ways we were proud that our district was tough and didn’t just close at any old snowstorm, in most ways we wanted to go to Don Bosco.

“Berkley Heights, Rahway, Dunellen, Metuchen, East Brunswick…”

Fuck, maybe I can study on the way to school.  “Edison, Elizabeth, Bethpage, New York Schools are all open on a regular schedule, Cranford…”

New York City was the only system to announce they were open, but hell, they NEVER EVER closed, they say the subways always ran, so their being open didn’t mean a thing.

“Come on Westfield, and no delayed open, come on closed.”

“Avenel, Summit, WESTFIELD…”

That’s it, radio off and the phone immediately rang. 

“Yes, I heard it! See you in ten minutes, grab your shovel, we can make some money before we go sledding!”

Studying for the Bio test can wait.  Maybe they will be closed for two days, it did happen once. 

Of course snow days meant extra school days in June, but June days were easy, nobody scheduled anything in June, even the teachers are tired of school by June.


  1. My husband, kids & I all grew up in Los Angeles so we NEVER experienced a snow day!!

  2. No such thing as snow days here in Australia, the best we ever got was to go home an hour early on heat wave days, so we could all cool off at the beach or town swimming pool.

  3. thanks for the memories. yup, we were out in the wisconsin country but listened for radio closings, too. the bus had to turn around in our driveway and managed to get stuck once or twice (off-loaded the whole crew of kids and driver into our old farmhouse to stay warm! my parents must have been freaked out!)

  4. In my day schools stayed open until the teachers got cold hands due to failed heating. Ah how I loved making caves in the snow and almost living in them.

  5. While we have had to close for snow about once every couple of decades, our closings usually come in August and September and are due to hurricanes. Then everything shuts down.

  6. Two inches will get us out. Of course, we are a rural hilly two-lane blacktop kind of district. During my first year, I worked in a district that let out early for RAIN! Lots of low water crossings there. That spoiled me. Made me think I'd get rain days at other schools, too.

    Some districts used to let out for heat warnings. None of mine. I worked dripping sweat in a 108 degree classroom.

    We still have to put in our required number of days. But what's left of the summer is great!

  7. We lived in a rural area of our town called 'Burrville'! Burrville had a volunteer fire department and when there was no school the Sirens in the stations would go off and we would be very happy indeed! It did mean we would be outside most of the day helping shovel the driveway. As it was usually snowing it was an all day job keeping up with the inches that fell. If we were really lucky Mom would be inside making homemade doughnuts -- just the smell made the shovelling worthwhile!

  8. When I was school age, schools closed once, for the great Thanksgiving blizzard of 1950. I doubt there were announcements, parents just didn't send kids to school on Friday. By Monday the National Guard had cleared our street, and one neighborhood father undertood to escort all the little ones to school. I would have been seven. People shoveled the sidewalks in those days, so the trip wasn't too bad, as I recall. We all were in snow suits, we were warm. We got to the school, and it was not open. What a shock, and I mean it. A bunch of dumstruck youngsters. We went back home and I suppose the mother brigade went to work and got an official to tell them school indeed was closed and when it would reopen. I'm thinking being closed that day had something to do with the janitor getting the boiler going (coal) and getting the building warm.

  9. Butte's nod to weather is when it gets colder than minus 10 recess is indoors.

  10. I am not a teacher, but snow days are nice anyway.

  11. It only snowed twice during my childhood in the California Bay Area, both times on a Sunday. No snow days for me.

  12. I don't remember ever getting out of school on for a snow day. We'd go no matter what.

    Very enjoyable read.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

  13. I swear to you that our district never closed, even if all the suburbs surrounding us did! We had some old superintendent that had the job for 40 years and was a mean old buzzard.

    I've never gotten over it.....l

  14. Growing up in a small farming community in Montana I don't ever remember having a snow day. Most of us walked to school and it was always open. The farm kids may not make it to town but us "city" kids were expected to be there.

  15. Funny how they would cancel school for a big snow storm but then all the kids would race outside to play in the snow. At least I did.

  16. I was at Fort Bliss in December,1967 when the whole west side of Texas got closed because of 2 inches of snow, on the day I was supposed to go on leave! No planes, no buses, couldn't even rent a car because the roads were all closed. Not the best snow day I ever had.

  17. When I was young we never had snow days. I don't recall when I started hearing about snow days and I doubt if they even had them in my kids school days. I don't know if we got much more snow than today or if I was just shorter and it seemed like more. But living on the border of Mn and SD, the blizzards seemed to rage most of the winter. All the mothers in the block would help get the kids off to school. They would tie a rope around each waist of about four little kids and chain link this rope in a line so no one would get lost. Off we'd go in such blinding snow we could barely see. Maybe that even sounds a little cruel today but that is also maybe why we were known as "the greatest generation. LOL

  18. I tip my hat to all you Mn and Dakota folks! You are the anti- Don Bosco!

  19. LOL at the "rope around each waist" from Manzanita's comment - that is very Little House on The Prairie!

    I used to live in Buffalo. When it comes to snow, I outrank you all.

  20. Here in Texas a dusting IS considered a blizzard. As a kid I loved snow days off. As an adult I love snow days off. I guess I've never grown up.

  21. Having a snow day as a kid was the best. I hates the days they waited until the last minute to cancel school though. I wished for many a storm to avoid a test.


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