It was one of those cold, windy days and snow was piled high along every street in town.
Of course, I was not intimidated as I made plans for the day.
Dressed in long john underwear and warm trousers, two shirts, two pairs of socks, a warm winter cap with ear flaps and my best winter coat, I headed outside.
A snow plow had already made a couple passes down our street, leaving one side of the street, away from the house, piled high with snow.
A brisk wind out of the Northwest blew right through my heavy clothes and stung the skin underneath. Undaunted, I walked across the street and stood next to the snow drift created by the plow that had gone just a few minutes earlier. I looked up to see the top of the snow — it was that deep.
Perfect, I thought.
With small shovel in hand, I began digging into the side of the pile. Slowly, I was able to make headway. As I dug into the packed bank of snow, I’d toss each shovelful behind me and onto the road. When the pile began to grow — too quickly, I thought, I knew it was time to act. I’d shovel again, this time moving the snow from the roadway and tossing it high and back over the bank of snow.
My hard work didn’t go unnoticed.
A friend, who lived about a block away, soon came my way and asked if he could help.
Well, the cold winter weather was already getting the best of my double layers of clothing. I’m sure my “rosy” cheeks also spoke volumes about needing help.
So, I quickly accepted the offer of help.
Grabbing another shovel — this one a grain shovel — I handed it to my friend, who eagerly began digging into the big snowdrift. It went a whole lot faster with two of us tossing snow into the road, then again on top of the snow drift. The drift continued to grow; when I started it was already above my head and it grew taller each time my friend and I tossed shovels-full of snow on the pile.
You see, there was no room in the ditch. That was already completely full with fresh-fallen snow.
My friend, LeRoy, and I worked for what seemed like forever on the bank of snow. Each time we thought we could quit, we decided that, “no, we needed to dig out a little more.”
I’m not sure how long we dug into that snowbank. I know that I felt like every part of my body was frozen solid when I finally finished the task.
“Let’s go inside and warm up,” I said to LeRoy. He was all too eager to accept. So we walked across the street, went to the back of the house, took off boots and heavy coats, and walked inside.
“Mom!” I yelled. “LeRoy and I could sure use some cocoa (that’s what I called hot chocolate back then).”
My mother, always one to drop everything when it came to her children, saw our rosy cheeks and told us to go sit down. Eagerly, we did, turning on the old black and white 14-inch Admiral television set. We sat on the floor and watched an episode of The Lone Ranger, a favorite Saturday morning program.
Soon, mom brought us each a steaming hot cup of cocoa with marshmallows on top. We carefully sipped the chocolate and watched as The Lone Ranger, with the help of his loyal Indian companion Tonto, foiled a bank robbery and saved a town from doom.
It’s what the Lone Ranger did, you know.
Soon we heard familiar sounds coming from the television — “Look. Up in the Sky. It’s a Bird. It’s a Plane. No, it’s Superman. Yes, it’s Superman …” Our stack of snow outside would have to wait another half hour while “Superman, disguised as mild-mannered reporter Clark Kent …” well, you know the rest.
By the time an hour had passed, LeRoy and I put our heavy clothes back on and, once again, went outside to face the cold.
With renewed warmth, both from being inside for an hour and sipping mom’s cups of hot cocoa, we quickly finished our task of digging into the snowbank. In dad’s shed behind the house, we found a flat piece of plywood. We shoved that piece of wood across the top of the hole we’d dug into the snow, preventing the snow from collapsing on top of us.
Both of us marveled at what we’d done. It was undoubtedly the best snow hut — or should we call it an igloo? — ever built by a couple of 8-year-old boys.
We played in that snow hut for several days and never tired of imagining we were policemen … or Army men … sent to protect our town.
Today, I look out the window at blowing snow, reading cancellations scrolling across the television screen, bundled up in warm clothing and covered by warm blankets and it makes me wonder if even some hot chocolate would give me any warmth. And, I wonder…
“What the heck were we thinking so many years ago?”
Bill Haglund is a retired writer for the Boone News Republican and Dallas County News. He can be reached at Bhaglund13@msn.com.