A winter trip down Memory Lane
ESCANABA – The snowflakes danced and swirled around like an endless army, they captured the ground. It was wintertime in the north country and it was a losing battle just trying to keep the sidewalk shoveled.
If you can remember snow pants with buttons (no Velcro or plastic snaps), snow fences, choppers (leather mitts with liners), and sleds with metal runners, then you’re a seasoned Yooper like me.
Perhaps you’ll recall large handled snow-scoops that the fellas pushed through the drifts to clear the driveways. Snow blowers were not yet a common thing.
Many years ago, my dad made his own snow-scoop. It had a U shaped pipe handle, wooden sides and a thin sheet of metal on the bottom to bite into the deep snow. He painted it bright orange. My brothers – especially Mark – loved removing snow with this gizmo.
In the snowy 1970s, he would haul away all of the snow from our sidewalks, driveway and some of the neighbors, too, and pile it up, scoop after scoop, in a big mountain in our backyard.
Sometimes the scoop would carry younger brothers, sister and cousins along the snow.
Back in the olden days it seemed like winter doled out a lot more snow than winters of late. I’m sure everybody’s grandpa told stories about walking to school in deep snow and blinding blizzards. It was considered an accomplishment to be proud of, just to make it there. School buses were just for the kids who lived on farms, back in Pa’s day. Nobody thought a thing about letting the children walk nearly a mile to school.
Many families back in the 60s and before, owned special rakes or shovels for breaking the heaps of snow off of the roof of the house and other out-buildings. Sometimes the weight of the snow back in those days was too much for the roof of small homes, camps or sheds to bear.
Snowy rooftops often produced dangerous sized icicles back before homes were well insulated.
My dad had a long-handled roof rake that he used at camp for many years. After snowshoeing into camp in mid-winter, my brother would get the job of cleaning off the camp roof. When most of the snow build-up was pushed off of the roof to the ground below, they’d jump off the roof into the pouffy piles of snow.
Woolen pants held up by button-on suspenders, goulashes that went over men’s church shoes, mufflers (scarves), muffs (hand warmers for women), tights (leg warmers for girls), ear muffs, long-johns and ice creepers for your boots are all the warm winter fashions of yesterday.
Even though today’s youngsters have more and better outdoor winter gear, it is common to see them dashing around in just a hooded sweatshirt and tennis shoes. It is so nice to see that the knit Scandinavian-style hats that tie under a person’s chin are in again.
I hope that Jack Frost’s army is planning a sneak attack on Delta County this year. When the snowflakes come storming down on us again, we’ll be ready for them.
Break out your favorite old parka and wool pants and be ready to take on Old Man Winter and win! And let the snow bring out the kid in you. Have some fun with it.
Karen (Rose) Wils is a lifelong resident of north Escanaba. Her folksy columns are published each Friday in Lifestyles.