Them Cold Cold Days


Dear Naty,

Growing up in the 1960s school had two divisions, the elementary level and secondary level. The elementary level went from kindergarten to grade 8, and the secondary level went from grade 9 to grade 13. This secondary level was high school. There was no Middle School in those days as there is today. My home was over 3 kilometers from my elementary school, which was a long long distance for a young child to walk. And to think I made that trip four times a day and five days a week, my God! That was two hours of walking everyday except Saturday and Sunday. I was skinny in those days. Once I made it to high school there was no more walking, it was just up the street. These days I laugh when I see parents driving their children to school when they could easily walk. But I understand why they do it. Walking used to be safe.

Fifty years ago the winters were much colder than they are today, what with global warming blessing life on earth. I can remember making those trips to and from school on some extremely cold days, the kind of days that if you spit it would be solid by the time your spit hit the ground. If one has never grown up in a cold climate it is impossible to imagine getting dressed to go to school. We wore full thermal underwear, which included an upper t-shirt, on top of that went two pair socks, pants and a long sleeve shirt and a sweater, then a snowsuit, boots, gloves, and a balaclava. That’s the hat bank robbers wear. Then to top it off my mother would wrap and tie a scarf around my neck. It would take a full 20 minutes to get suited up and then another 10 minutes to get unsuited. And we did it four times a day. Going to school in the winter was like taking a moonwalk. I think my mother walked me to school only a few times and once I knew the way I had to do everything alone after that. Again I laugh today when I think about children in Southern California complaining how hard it is to get to school. Like walking to the car in the garage is tough.

I remember regular snowfalls of three meters and more. That was as high as I was in those days! And drifts could be two meters. Today such deep snowfalls seem to be non existent. Snowplows with massive blades would throw the snow off the road and create massive piles of snow and ice along the edges of the roads. As kids we would climb these mountains of ice like they were glaciers. During the months of January and February the temperature would always be below -17c, and even down to -30 or even -40°. I recall times when the temperature would stay below -17 for a month. My God, I shutter at how cold it used to be. Every night my father would plug our car into a block heater so it would start in the morning. A car engine cannot start when the oil is as thick as butter. Those were difficult times This is why I never want to live in a cold climate. My vow is to only live where I can see palm trees.

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