I believe that right up there with air, water and speech, snow is one of the best free things on earth. It’s a gift, especially to a city kid like me who grew up in n asphalt and brick neighborhood with few trees and no green lawns.
In December 1947, The Big Snow transformed my sidewalk world into a beautiful white plaza that stretched as far as I could see. The city streets looked like a countryside with acres and acres of glistening snow.
It was a snow beyond comparison. Inch for inch, it beat all other previous New York City snowfall statistics…and was not to be surpassed until February 2006.
Everything stopped —school, buses, deliveries. Ordinary routines came to a halt.
I bundled up in my jacket, hat and gloves, zipped up my red rubber boots and ran to the elevator and outside. Unbelievable! My feet sank and sank and sank, making gaping holes in the waist-high snow.
It didn’t take us long to figure out that this soft, wet, fluffy snow was perfect for packing into snowmen and snowballs. In the street, we built great forts with ledges in them to stack our stock of snowballs. We held riotous snowball fights punctuated by urgent cries for more “ammunition.”
We were too young to be troubled by fallen wires and other debris. Dead branches offered us a new hobby — whittling. Everybody found some sort of knife, and everybody whittled! Primitive stick figures and abstract sculptures emerged overnight.
When we could no longer feel our noses and our toes tingled from the cold, we tramped upstairs for hot chocolates with marshmallows. Then began the monopoly marathon. We played the game long and seriously. Fortunes rose and fell. One landed on “Boardwalk” and either paid up or went bankrupt.
A week later, a warm sun began to melt the snow. Soon after, the buses ran, and the schools opened. People could get to their jobs.
The Big Snow was over. But never would I forget the beauty and the boundless feeling it had brought me.
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