I grew up in Southern California during the 1950’s. It didn’t snow in our neighborhood. The rare sleet or hail storm was almost as exciting for us as the snow is for children here in the Pacific Northwest. I remember at least one time that our Church took us to the mountains to play in the snow. This was supposed to be a rare winter highlight for us. I must have been ten or eleven years old because it was before we moved into the Poppy Way house.
Mother packed sack lunches for my younger sister and I containing a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, an apple and two cookies. Then she dug out our winter gear. We had mittens, not gloves. Mom attached our mittens to a length of yarn and strung it through the sleeves of our coats to make sure that we didn’t lose them. I was old enough to find this embarrassing, but now realize how practical that was. We didn’t have fancy jackets or waterproof snow suits like those commonly seen today. Instead we donned our brothers hand-me-down plaid flannel shirts, pulled on a pair of pajama pants under our regular slacks, and put on two pairs of socks. We packed a change of dry clothes into a bag, added our boots, coats and scarves and we were ready to go.
We joined our friends at the church and were assigned to a car. Parents drove in those days. Our church didn’t have a bus or van. The trip seemed to take forever. As we made our way up the mountain pass the rain turned into tiny snowflakes that spotted the windshield. We had never seen it actually snowing. Anyone living where they have winter weather wouldn’t have considered what we saw as snow. It melted as soon as it hit the glass. But for us the excitement was almost unbearable.
It took forever before the driver in front of us pulled off the road into a little turnout. Not a parking lot, just a little turnout. Our driver followed. Soon we all piled out of the cars and put on our coats and boots. I remember that at that time I didn’t have regular boots, I had overshoes instead. They were just a rubber slipper that slid over my shoes. They didn’t even cover my ankles. They were designed for walking in the rain, not playing in the snow. I considered my coat as really luxurious. It had a faux fur yoke and collar. The body and sleeves were “wine” colored corduroy. It was long enough that it reached my knees. Most of the kids had some kind of knit cap, but my sister and I had scarves to tie around our heads.
At first we made snowballs. We didn’t have enough snow experience to think about a snow fight. We tried to make a snowman, but none of us really knew how and none of the adults seemed interested in instructing us. We didn’t have a sled so we just sloshed around in the wet snow. What had resembled snowflakes on the trip up the hill soon turned into a torrential down pour. Our inadequate gear left us defenseless against the moisture. We had been in the snow for less than half an hour when the adults nudged us back into the cars; the girls in one and the boys in the other. We were happy to submit to their commands. We all changed our clothes right there inside the car, first sliding off our wet shoes and pants and replacing them with our dry ones. Next we slid our arms out of our coat sleeves and slipped off our wet shirts while still covered with our jackets. We replaced the wet tops with our dry ones before we removed our coats.
Our coats were too wet to put back on, so we sat shivering inside the car while we ate our lunches. Then the adults drove us back down the hill. Perhaps it should come as no surprise that as an adult, I don’t really get too excited about going out in the snow.
Written for Three Word Wednesday words: highlight, instruct and submit.
Also written for The Short and the Long of It: Three words: plaid, moisture and defenseless.