It takes the unique mixture of innocence and cruelty found only in childhood to really enjoy a heavy snow day.
Anymore it’s as if Richfield is under some kind of invisible dome. Surrounding areas get snow measured in feet, and we get a little rain.
Perhaps the faithful are not paying enough tithing, or they’re paying too much. Either way, the center of the valley rarely gets snow anymore.
When it snowed, I mean, really snowed, the world changed.
Armies of snowmen — eight feet tall —cropped up on elementary school campuses. Roving bands of unsupervised hooligans armed with nothing but snowballs and malice would take to the streets targeting anything that moved, or didn’t. Volleys of grenades made of snow were launched from Ashman’s lawn as snowball sharp shooters tried to hit people, cars and animals outside of the schoolyard fence.
One game that was popular was to see who could hit the closed up store east of the school with the winter artillery. Extra points and bragging rights went to those who actually broke windows. The secret, or so I’m told, was to compact the snowball with some dirty water and gravel — making it a dense ice missile capable of killing a man, or breaking a window.
The building was eventually demolished. I can only imagine that conversation.
“Well, we could reopen this store, but every window on the west side is busted, and how’d all this gravel get in here,” says someone who owned the store. “Eh, let’s just knock it down.”
The best part came after dark.
I don’t know if parents were more naïve back then, or if they just didn’t care … but you’d think someone would question why their kids would head out into the frigid wasteland after sunset. Heck, I get suspicious if my kids are in the kitchen for more than five minutes without my supervision. If they’re going out after dark and it’s -15 degrees, I know they’re up to no good.
However, we were left to our own devices and hooky bobbing was born.
Hooky bobbing, for the uninitiated, is when one grabs onto the back bumper of a passing car or truck and allows them to drag you on the icy road — Marty McFly style.
Most drivers and their insurance companies were annoyed by clusters of 12-year-old boys hanging on their back bumper, so you had to be sneaky. The thrill of foot sledding around town dragged by an unsuspecting patsy was enough to keep you warm.
Of course there was also the times when an older brother with a license would stop and let you hook on to his rusty pickup truck and drag you. This almost always ended with the driver immediately accelerating to 40 mph and heading for a dry patch of road, where it would stop being fun and start hurting. As it turns out, teens are as cruel as children.
The practice of hooky bobbing was frowned upon by parents, law enforcement and clergy; and for good reason.
It’s a minor miracle more of us didn’t wind up being sucked into a wheel well, or smashing out our teeth on the trunk lid when the vehicle unexpectedly stopped.
Once, a kid we were with somehow got one of his brand new gloves stuck.
He’d bragged about these expensive ski gloves he had received as a Christmas gift. He pulled his hand away from the car, and the gloe slipped off. Then the car drove away, glove still attached to the back bumper, as if it were waving — “goodbye sucker.” He never saw his glove again and the rest of his winter was spent pretending he still had it anytime his mom was around.
The lessons of childhood are sometimes cruel.
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