Here's another story from one of my best friends. Former 403 East 4th resident, PS 179 and Ditmas JHS schoolmate Paul McNally.
Thinking back on the winters we had in the old neighborhood, brings to mind a few of the things we did to stay busy and have fun in the snow. Any time the snow fell was a good time, but it was especially good if the storm occurred on a school night, cause this meant…SCHOOL CLOSINGS! That’s right, we all stared at the sky hoping and praying that the snow accumulation would be enough to cause school to be closed the next day. I know things change, but some things stay the same, because my kids feel the same way today. Any time you have a choice to either play in the snow or go to school, the winner will always be, play in the snow.
Once again, this meant playing outside of course, because anytime you had to stay and play indoors was usually some form of punishment. And the pain of being stuck indoors on a snow day was the worst form of punishment possible. So, Mom, if you are reading this I was scarred for life those days I had to stay in and watch from our third story window as my friends made first tracks in the virgin East 4 Street snow. I specifically remember a few storms that dropped enough snow that the streets were completely closed down. Maybe 2-3 feet of the stuff would cover everything, leaving the cars parked on the street submersed under a blanket of white, only recognizable by the antennae popping through the crust.
This meant a whole new set of games to be played. Gone were all the rubber ball games, replaced by snowball games. The first thing you checked when you went out was to see if the snow was good “packing” snow. Good packing snow was the first ingredient of any quality snowball fight. Once you knew this, then it was game on. When trying to strategize my attack, I always felt that a good offense was my best defense. Get the first shot in and your opponent now had to play catch up. With the street closed down, it made the playing field that much larger and safer. As you looked up and down the street, the only cars were the ones snowed in on the side of the road. It gave me a feeling like we owned the street it was ours alone. No interruptions of passing cars to disrupt the flow of our games. A kind of quiet that only happened on snow days.
Of course with the snow came other things to do, including building snowmen and busting down other kids weak attempts at snowmen. Building snow forts and tunnels out of the mounds of snow built up by the shoveling efforts of our Fathers and Grandfathers. And who could forget trekking up to Church Ave. to go to the A&P for milk, eggs and bread. Staples your Mom didn’t want to be without on a snow day.
These days all seemed to be perfect in isolating the block. We were snowed in and couldn’t go anywhere except up and down our street. It all was ideal until the first big Buick came barreling down the street plowing through the snow as if on a mission to be the first to get the world moving again. And after that, it felt like the snow day would soon be over. How long before the huge garbage trucks fitted with the plows would come by and clear the streets, meaning once again that school would soon be open.
So, the snow day was over. But the next time you saw a single snowflake, your thoughts and gaze shifted to the sky thinking, “pleeeese let it be enough to close school”.