Monday, January 26, 2009

In the good old days, snow canceled school

By R.D. Hohenfeldt

Back yonder in time, back on Harris Road in Greene County, the days between Christmas and New Year's Day were a mix of sadness and contentment. The end of Christmas, especially the end of Christmas music on the radio, brought the sadness, but the realization that we had a week of no school, no homework, no studying and no tests, brought contentment.
Those days brought hope, to. The Hohenfeldt children hoped, prayed even, for a New Year's Day snow that would require Superintendent Schatz to call off school at Republic.
Now, now, don't tut-tut or tsk-tsk me. I know you were hoping and praying for the same thing at your own school, way back yonder in time and geography, whether it was in the Ozarks or in some other region prone to snowfalls. And if you're a student reading this today, I know that you have some hope in your heart right now for enough snow to cancel school.
The Ozarks have seen some changes in the way cancellation news is disseminated. When I was a kid, we listened to to the radio early on snowy mornings to find out if school was canceled. By the time my little brother was in school, we could also watch for a list on television. Nowadays, parents and children have another option to learn about cancellations; they can check the internet.
Snow cancellations were necessary for our mental health, I think. At Republic school in the months before Christmas, we had mini-vacations in September for the district teachers meeting and in October for the state teachers meeting. Then in November we had Thanksgiving. But without snowfall, we were looking at no vacations, except for Lincoln's Birthday and Washington's Birthday in February, from New Year's Day through Easter break. When you're a kid, that expanse of time is like looking at a desert with no oasis.
So we prayed for snow.
Snow without school gave me time for long stretches of unbothered reading, as well as an opportunity to play in the snow with my brother and sisters. It also gave us children free fternoons for walking across the way to Grandma and Grandpa Hohenfeldt's house where we would spend an hour or two playing Scrabble, Sorry or Troke with Grandma. (Does anyone else remember Troke?)
We lived way off the beaten path back on those days and our dirt road was never plowed by the county. Nevetheless, my father never failed to make it to work in his barbershop on College street in the run-down West Side of Springfield. He, my mother and I would get out and shovel part of the snow drifts away, then Mama would get in the car and steer while Daddy and I pushed. The car would break a trail for a ways until it reached another drift. Then we'd shovel some more, push some more, break through some more, over and over again, down Harris Road, then down the county's farm road (also unplowed), until we reached the state-maintained section that was plowed. Daddy would head off to work and Mama and I would walk back home to brew some sassafras tea.
I'd sip that tea, draw a chair up close to the stove, read a book and let the contentment roll over me.--RDH

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