Snow Days

Snow Days

Bing Crosby may have dreamed of a white Christmas, but if you were a kid who lived where it snowed, you dreamed of white school days. It was an unexpected vacation, maybe one day, maybe a week; it all depended on how much of the white stuff fell from the sky. Let’s look back at this beloved winter surprise.

The ritual that began a snow day was a tad unnerving, to say the least. You would wake up to find the ground (and especially the roads) covered with a fresh, and hopefully substantial, coating of white powder. Suddenly struck with nervous optimism, you would turn on the radio and search for undoubtedly the best thing ever to be broadcast over the airwaves (in the mind of a child, at least), the ever-so-slowly recited list of school closures. On a good day, this list was extensive, meaning that there was a very good chance your school district would be mentioned. One by one, you would listen, holding your breath, tensing up at the name of every district that started with the same letter as yours. Hopefully, this torture would end quickly but it usually didn’t, and the wait could seem like an eternity. If they didn’t mention your district, it was like being punched in the gut, a disappointment that lingered for much of the day. And to make matters worse, sometimes they added names to the list each time around, building your hopes sky high before they dropped like a thawed icicle. But oh, if they said that long-anticipated group of words you yearned to hear, it suddenly became a magnificent day, yours to do with whatever you pleased.

Normally one had to be sick (or be an expert at feigning it) to get an unexpected day off from school. The problem was, once you said you were sick, you were required to stay in bed, couldn’t have friends over, etc. A snow day was wonderfully different; it was a day to bundle up and play in your freshly blanketed town. You could spend the day building jolly snowmen and impenetrable snow forts, have snowball fights with your friends (and enemies,) or engage in just about any other sub-freezing activity imaginable. Snow angels, anyone?

Oh, and should the missed school day involve any scheduled testing or reports that were due, it was like a last minute stay of execution from the Governor, a miracle from above. Well, except for one little detail. You usually had to make the day up sometime before summer vacation began should you surpass the allotted amount of snow days for the year.

That would be something to groan about for another day. For now at least, maybe even for tomorrow, you were free to play, free to get your feet frozen and your nose as red as Rudolph’s. And you milked it for all it was worth.

If you lived in snow country, share your childhood memories of snow days with us in our comments section. What winter activities did you engage in? Do you remember a particularly nasty storm that shut your town down for the week? Tell us all about it as we fondly recall snow days, here at Retroland.

10 Responses to “Snow Days”

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  1. Timothy says:

    I grew up (and still live) in the Philadelphia, PA. area and I often reflect on my school days and the many snowy mornings when my mom, not knowing yet whether school was opened or closed, would wake me just like any other typical school morning, but would say “It’s snowing”. Immediately I would turn the radio on in my room or go downstairs and listen as I’m eating my breakfast with hopes my school would be announced. If it wasn’t announced, I would be one miserable and disappointed kid and it wasn’t uncommon once I arrived at school for me to ask teachers, the principal, etc. if we were going to get out early, often with them not yet knowing. I miss those days! Today, I HATE snow and winter!

  2. Janet says:

    I grew up in VA, and snow days were rare. Schools were organized by county, so Alden Aaroe at WRVA would recite the closed counties in alphabetical order. I can still remember most of the list: Albemarle, Amelia, Buckingham, Caroline, Charles City . . . will he say Chesterfield?? pleasepleasepleaseplease . . . . Dinwiddie. Dammit!

  3. Amy says:

    As someone who grew up and still live in Central PA, snow days were indeed a mini-holiday. The anticipation!! The excitement!! Recite that list faster, stupid radio guy!! And for me, I still look forward to them. As someone who works for a school district, I still get giddy watching the scroll on the tv or listening to the radio and enjoy a certain schadenfreude knowing I don’t have to go to work like everyone else.

  4. Jennifer harris says:

    I loved Snow days.I loved it when the schools were closed.

  5. Lora Evans says:

    I remember the snow storm of 1967” in S.W. Michigan. It was heavy Lake Effect snow coming off of Lake Michigan. I was 10 and we were off for 2 weeks, all 5 of us kids loved it mom and dad not so much. It started snowing while we were in school then by the time school let out it was bad, our elementary was just up the road but the High School that my two older sisters were in was 10 miles away. Their bus driver Rocky was determined to get his busload home. He passed a few buses in ditches the kids were waving and Rocky couldn’t stop because he would of ended up there too. The highway is curvey and hilly, one hill gave him trouble after a few try’s he made it up, every one cheered! My sisters made it home but a few kids not so lucky, a 1/4 mile up the road Rocky could move no more. They all had to trudge in the blizzard to their homes. My dad and brother used the bus as a resting,warming stop on their walk to the grocery store. One day our windows were rattling we all ran outdoors and there was our neighbor coming down the highway with a giant loader making a path down the highway ( we still have the slides) . Will that was the end of our vacation but I was ready to go back to school we all had cabin fever!

  6. Elizabeth says:

    I remember the Blizzard of 1978 in Boston and getting out of school. Building tunnels in the snow down all the sidewalks in our neighborhood.
    What a blast!

  7. Lynn says:

    I LOVED SNOW DAYS. In middle school I constantly prayed for them, and back when I was in 5th grade we had nearly an entire week of snow days. Of course, this meant taking away our spring vacation so in hindsight that might have sucked. But still. Oh, and early school closings due to snow, those also rocked.

  8. Snow days were the best! Waited with anticipation for the school closing report, now they’re in record numbers…we could do whatever we wanted, sleep all day or watch TV and have a snack. Nowadays, kids are probably expected to do homework and study–good idea if they want to get ahead.

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