It doesn’t happen often, but when it snows in Alabama, it’s a big deal. The young boomer, Ansel Head, had heard about snow ball fights, seen fake snow men in Christmas decorations, and listened to Bing Crosby crooning ad nauseam about the stuff. Then one day it came. He awoke to several inches covering his world.
“Get up Jane!” he yelled to his sister and then on the phone to his friend, Ross, one house away, “Meet me outdoors!”
Mary wasn’t at home because the buses weren’t running so he dressed unsupervised –corduroy pants, cotton shirt, leather shoes, jacket and gloves, no hat – what he wore ever day during the winter. Outside with his sister close behind, he ran straight to Ross’s house. The pack was ready to make mayhem in the white stuff and finally get to ride that heavy wooden sled with rusty red blades which, since anyone could remember, had been gathering leaves and cob webs in the corner of Ross’s garage.
You could see your breath and cheeks were soon cherry red, but the shoes, pants, gloves, and coats were warm, at least at the start. That first snowball foretold the end; it was not the soft powder pictured in movies; it was more like the shaved ice which the milkman used to chill bottles. During hot summers, he would share the melting treats with kids who loved its refreshing texture, but on that winter day, the cold wetness only soaked leather gloves. When you hit your foe, the snowball didn’t explode into a powdery mist, it hurt and left a big wet spot.
Someone had told the novices that you make snowmen by rolling snow into large balls. That meant kneeling, and soon pants and shoes were also wet. Alabama snow didn’t roll the way that someone had advertised. The best the bunch could do was make several six inch mounds that looked more like sand castles than basketballs. The broken stick poking out of one looked nothing like a nose, only a broken stick.
No matter though, there was always sledding. But the old rusting sled wouldn’t start down the steep snow covered driveway on its on even with a compatriot pushing. You had to hold the sled in front of you, get a running start, and dive onto it. It went fast but only about about ten feet before coming to an abrupt stop dumping its rider into the slush; now ice was down backs of necks and leather coats and shirts became soaked.
Christmas books, movies, and music portrayed snow as fun. Head and his sister and friend had given it their all, but after ten minutes, the unfamilar cold had penetrated deep into their feet, hands, legs, and body. First his sister gave up, followed shortly thereafter by his friend, and finally Head retired from the games.
It usually snowed once a winter during his early years. Head, displaying his lasting naiveté concerning the education provided by the main stream media, never failed to attempt to make the white slush into something fun. But ten minutes of practical learning was all it usually took to bring him back indoors to reality.