We had our first snow tonight in Sunset Hills, Mo. The first snow always takes me back to the day in October, when someone would look out the window of our one room Happy Corners school and whisper, “It’s snowing.” Education came to a halt as we rushed to the window to take in this marvelous event. Snow was harbinger of winter, the season which has left the most indelible memories of any of the four seasons.
Winter meant building snow forts from which we fought snowball wars. These battles were governed by one rule. No throwing at the face, since many of our snowballs bordered on ice missiles. However, our bodies were so well padded with layers of long underwear, heavy winter coats and bib overalls that the armaments didn’t do great damage.
Not all our recess time were filled with aggression. Large circles tramped into the snow-covered softball field provided grounds for games of fox and geese. We dug caves and tunnels in the hardened snow drifts piled up in front of the snow fence in Jansen’s field. They were relatives of our family who had a farm next to school.
In the 1950s, World War II had ended less than 10 years ago. Though we couldn’t remember the war, still the swing set allowed us to soar high in the sky and leap off into the cushioning white ground cover calling out, “Bombs over Tokyo.”
Recess was a 15 minute respite for the teacher as she got ready for the next batch of classes. I imagine she must have peeked out the window from time to time, but I don’t recall her intervening in our death-defying antics.
The mile and a half walk to school held its own adventures. As the plows mounted roadside banks higher and higher Along County Road T, we could walk on top of the banks within reach of the singing telephone wires. We wondered if that was the sound of voices traveling from neighbor to neighbor. We also wondered whether we dared touch the singing lines. Did they carry electricity? On cold mornings we listened to the trees cracking and the ice booming on the lakes and perhaps the train whistle sounding from Turtle Lake seven miles to the south.
That first snowfall was also a harbinger that soon we would be bundling up like Charlie Brown. After recess the school room would smell of mittens laid out before the large heat registers in the back of the room in hopes that they would be dry in time for our next foray into the Wisconsin winter wonderland. Of course, winter also meant that at some point someone would get their tongue stuck on the flag pole, because what else would boys do, but give it a try?