Slippery, Snowy Slopes

Two Book Crossover 11.13


As blizzards go, today’s glorified dusting of snow hardly registered, yet it was enough to make me go back in time…


Picture this: Sicily. 1917. Ooops: Picture this: Mt. Laurel, sometime in the late 1960s or 1970s. No internet. Radio reigned supreme for moments like this. Yes, I (for the most part) enjoyed attending school, but going to school was never a match for it being canceled due to inclement weather. Not even close.


My two older brothers and I are listening, either jointly or in our respective bedrooms, for the number of our Mt. Laurel, NJ school district to be called. Our little clock radio(s) are set to Philadelphia’s KYW News Radio 1060. We are dying to hear our number(s) called, three little digits that will rescue us from another boring day of school. We simply need to hear something like the following.


Because of the snowy, slippery conditions, many school districts in our area have decided to cancel school…In New Jersey… Burlington County…


Come on! 859! 859!


…845, 847, 849, 853, 856, 857, 858, 860, 86…




And then, if there was time, we’d wait for one more round of school closing numbers to see if KYW would correct its egregious oversight. In the event that we received our reprieve, we would erupt in shouts of joy, sometimes singing a quickie parody that middle brother Josh had composed to the USC (Trojans) fight song:


No school for us boys three / The snow has made it too slippery. Da-da-da-da-da-da.


(It fit the tune we had heard in numerous college football games quite well, even if it confirmed that there was no Lennon or McCartney in our family.)


From there, we would usually endure some shoveling duty, but it was tolerable enough if three of us were tackling our medium-sized driveway and sidewalks. And then, we would either play together or split off to join our respective neighborhood friends.  In my  experience, we didn’t get too many snow days, and rare were the times that I even got in some decent sledding.


We did enjoy a fair amount of snowball fights, and back in the day, I was pretty good in any such, mostly good-natured skirmish. I had a strong, accurate arm, and was skinny and mobile enough to not be too conspicuous of a target.


That was then: a time when the occasional football game in the snow would only lead to temporarily frozen extremities and faces. No injuries. Lots of smiles and memories. And, of course, a get-out-of-school-free card.


Oh yeah. Did I mention the immature joy of launching snowballs at the snow plows as they trudged by? No, my dad, the ultimate good citizen, wasn’t a big fan of that type of target practice. He rarely yelled at us, but I do recall him getting angry at these somewhat small, youthful indiscretions like snow-plow pelting and (my) screaming out, “Hey, wait for me” from our living room windows at the Good Humor truck that trolled the neighborhood for business. Yes, the truck came to a screeching stop. I don’t recall exactly how it played out from there; usually, disappointing Dad was enough to make me feel remorseful…even if I still get a little chuckle from it all.


Sorry, Dad.


These days, the snow does very little for me, although I do think that I’d still fare okay in a snowball fight (well, for my age group). But, how does one go about participating in one? Shoveling without a snow blower (and free child labor that is old enough to be of help) is a true chore­ – one that could aggravate my chronically cranky back.


In fact, one sad truth of life is that the higher the ratio of shoveling (and driving) to football and snowball fights, the less that most of us enjoy the white stuff. And yes, it has occurred to me that chucking snowballs at the plow (and probably missing) would not be socially acceptable, or good for the ego.


As for eagerly awaiting school closings, the magic of listening to the little radio is gone, although I suppose that the old-fashioned KYW option still does exist. This morning, I found out that Benny’s afternoon kindergarten class was canceled when I visited the school district’s website. That was around 6 am. At around 6:30, our home phone rang with the same news from an automated call.


I still greeted the news with some excitement, even if by the time we really got going, most of the snow had melted. On the bright side, there was little to no shoveling required, and nobody challenged me to a snowball fight.


And yes, the snow plows seemed to avoid driving by, just in case I wanted to try to relive those glory days.


The Good Humor truck? Lonnnnnnnnnnnnnnng gone.


(Matt Goldberg) is the author of five books and hundreds of eclectic, published writings. He is also available to help you craft the article, speech (and even book) that will help you best reach your intended audience. Contact him via matt@tipofthegoldberg for all inquiries.


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2 Responses to Slippery, Snowy Slopes

  • Josh says:

    Yo Matt,

    Middle Bro Josh checking in here. Thanks for some great memories … I remember them all fondly (was the Lenape HS code really 859?).

    The mention of KYW News Radio 1060 induced in me a rare wave of nostalgia … it even led me to this web page. Check it out!

    Perhaps the best memory was "the immature joy of launching snowballs at the snow plows". We would try to get them in the narrow slots in the grilles that protected the windows. In my opinion this was not immature; it was age-appropriate. We can re-explore immature should you decide to devote a column to Latizzia Ball.


    • admin says:

      Thanks for the read, “M-Bro”, and the link to the classic KYW jingle.

      I’m not sure if 8-5-9 is accurate; it seems like either Mt. Laurel Schools of Lenape HS was that or 659; I’ll have to ask Dan or Purd.

      Good point on Latizzia Ball. Do you remember the Good Humor truck incident?