Several inches of snow on the ground outside their new house thrilled the grade schooler. She knew what that meant. She ran to tell her mother. “Look! It snowed! No school today.”
“Nuh-uh, honey. We aren’t in Arkansas anymore. This is Pennsylvania. You will be going to school today,” her mother disillusioned her daughter just as the snowplow roared past their house. That day, my friends daughter joined the “We Came Anyway” club.
Weather expectations vary across the nation. For the new student in snow country, it was culture shock at its worst. Snowy streets did not automatically equate to a day off from school.
I lived that harsh reality growing up in rural New York State. Daily the bus came down the steep hill every day to transport us to school including on snow days. At least we had a ride when we lived in the country. For two years we lived on the opposite side of a small village with thel school a mile or so away. With only one vehicle at home and a pre-school aged brother and sister, we had one option: walk to school – every day. Snow or no snow, as “town kids” we walked every day and hoped every house owner along the way had shoveled their sidewalk early.
Snow also meant a twice daily struggle with pulling rubber galoshes over school shoes and fastening them shut with stove grate snaps. One technique made sliding our hard soled shoes easier: first slip on a pair of yellow Sunbeam bread wrappers. Just do not lose or tear that bread wrapper. With classes of at least 20 students, even kindergarten kids learned to pull-on their own boots. To accommodate the chore of dressing warmly before going to the bus, teachers allowed time for students to wrestle boots, stuff arms into jackets, wrap scarves and pull-on mittens.
Speaking of mittens, one of my grandmothers kept her knitting needles clicking making mittens for her 11 grandchildren and later for her many great-grandchildren. To ensure the mittens stayed with the child, moms pinned them to jacket cuffs.
Once we moved south, my children did not need mittens. We experienced culture shock the first time snow dusted the yard with barely enough white stuff to make a snowman. For that bit of snow my children stayed home. Of course, no one stayed inside. Everyone went out and built more snowmen than I ever saw in New York.
We quickly adjusted to the warmer weather. Our “winter” coats look like our northern relatives’ fall jackets. We don’t expect snow; we expect ice. If snow comes, in some ways, we relish being members of the unofficial “We Came Anyway” club. The club exists in both the North and the South. Club members consist of anyone who looks at the possibly snow-covered roads without ice and goes to work or church anyway. Our sense of accomplishment at having traversed the snowy driveway to the main road is akin to the honor of those who conquer Mount Everest.
With a smile, I specifically wrote driveway because one snowy day a co-worker called the office to say, “I can’t get out of my driveway.”
The rest of us, having easily, safely arrived at work chuckled. We looked at the another co-worker who lived near the absentee. Their driveway had not held them captive.
Sometimes, to ensure enough staff, management offered truck rides to anyone uncertain about traversing the snowy roads. We counted them as members of the “We Came Anyway” Club. We might arrive in blue jeans and sneakers rather than our usual work attire, but we arrived in spite of the snow, just as my friend’s daughter did her first snow day in the North.