Don’t panic, you may have to stay home for 24 hours

Dennis Warden

Many times the weather forecasters have predicted a snow Armageddon. Most of the time they are wrong. Not this time, giving Connie and I the perfect excuse to remain safely inside our humble abode for 36 hours.

It’s been a long time since we have been snowed in. For most of us, at least, the weekend is not a bad time to be trapped inside. 

Connie and I took the opportunity to sleep late and slow down over the weekend. Last weekend, with it’s beautiful warm weather, we took down all our outside Christmas decorations. This weekend was the perfect opportunity to finish putting away the inside decorations.

Some Missourians, on the other side of 60, have been known to flee the show-me state after the Christmas holidays and spend some time in sunny Florida or the great state of Texas. The reason, to escape what we have just experienced — cold and snow. 

I know two snowbirds who flew south on Thursday.

When I think about it, some of my favorite memories, as a kid and as an adult, revolve around the frozen precipitation consisting of hexagonally symmetrical ice crystals, otherwise known as snow.

In the 70’s the only roads that were plowed or cindered by the road department were state highways. This left the city streets packed with snow and perfect for sledding on, especially the hill on North Walnut where I grew up. When it was too cold, a 50-gallon barrel would appear with a fire inside to warm your hands.

The sled of choice was the classic 60-inch flexible Western Flyer with steel runners. My friends and I would race down the hill, two to a sled. The job of the copilot was to sabotage the others to the point of sacrificing himself, diving onto the competitors. Bet you didn’t know that sledding could be a competitive sport.

In high school we would tie a rope onto the sleds and pull them with an old Honda 90 ATV in circles on a frozen pond. The problem with that is it bent the runners.

During the winter of 1977-78 the snow kept us out of school for all but two days during the month of January. Ample time for high school seniors to get into trouble in the snow. Those were the days without computer games, internet or cable TV.

Although I never owned a 4-wheel drive vehicle, a couple of my friends did. We threw snowballs from the back of Steve’s 1500 Silverado 4x4 at younger kids.

Many times the county would blade the roads during the day only to have them drift closed overnight. On one such snowdrift Richard repeatedly rammed his Ford F-150 4x4 into it trying to make it through to the other side. The drift won when his front drive shaft broke with only a foot to go.

Those younger may wonder how we travelled on snow covered streets with rear wheel drive cars. It’s simple — studded snow tires, plus a little weight in the trunk. In my case it was old newspapers or maybe some lead bars from the back shop.

As our children were growing up, a snow day was the perfect opportunity for a hard-working dad to take some time and play outside with his children — bonding time. 

And that’s exactly what I did.

We would bundle up our three kids in warm boots, hats, coats and gloves for the cold adventure that waited outside. To keep the gloves on Abigail, our youngest, we relied on duck tape.

More than once there was enough snow for Jacob and I to build a snowman on our back deck.

Our house sits on a hill with lots of trees, but that did not stop us from sledding down our driveway towards our house on a modern plastic sled.

One time Ethan’s sled went over the “dad made” snow pile, designed to stop sleds, causing Connie to investigate what just hit the house. It was just Ethan.

There were countless snowball fights and snow forts complete with hot chocolate afterwards.

Our Boy Scout troop made a trip each winter to Hidden Valley — snow skiing from midnight to 5 a.m. When Abby was old enough she came along to enjoy the fun.

One winter when the snow was perfect and the city didn’t spread cinders on our street I got the Western Flyer out of storage and took our kids for a ride.

I hope this weekend you were able to create some new memories, or relive some old ones, as you enjoyed the beautiful Missouri snow.