Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Memories of Snowballs Past

The nasty blizzard that is dumping a foot or two of snow on much of the country has brought everything to a standstill around here. It has also got me thinking about big snows and winter fun from days gone by.
 
As a little boy, my family lived in Maryville in northwest Missouri where harsh winters and heavy snow was the rule instead of the exception. We lived in a big, two-story house just a couple of blocks from the old high school. I remember one winter some of my dad's family came up for a visit and all of the older kids headed up to the school to go sledding. Later on, Mom sent me over to tell the kids it was time to come home. The snow was too deep for me, so I had to take the side walk up the street and around the corner to find the older kids. When we all headed home, everybody was taking the short way, cutting through by the elementary school. I tried to keep up with the big kids, but the snow was deeper than my legs were tall. I was ready to give up and started to cry.

That's when my uncle Jack scooped me up and put me on his shoulders. I rode his big shoulders all the way home as Jack waded through two feet of snow. My hero.

I remember snowball fights in Windsor and making one of the biggest mistakes of my young life. A couple of my buddies and I were raiding the neighborhood, chucking snowballs at every life form and moving target we could find. My brother John came home from work and was headed toward the front door. It was a rare opportunity to nail an older brother. John, in all fairness, warned me. "If you throw that snow ball at me, you'll be sorry." Well, I did and I was. I let that snowball fly and caught John in the back of the head just as he opened the door. What a shot! I was so proud.

Just about the time I finished celebrating the front door opened again and of course, it was John. No more work clothes, he was dressed for battle. Considering quickly my strategic options, I determined to run for my life, but I did not run fast enough. He grabbed me before I could get out of the yard.

My older brothers never practiced an eye for an eye, even Steven approach to getting revenge. Their plan was usually more like "hit me in the eye and I will beat you senseless, knock out my tooth and I'll knock every tooth out of your stupid head." So, I knew I was in big trouble. John grabbed me by the ankle, yanked off my coat, my sweatshirt, and my t-shirt and stuck me head first into a snow bank. Another important life lesson learned.

One more winter memory. In college days at William Jewell, I was headed back to the dorm and noticed a bunch of the guys having a big snow war on the triangle. Like my brother John, I was caught in a vulnerable position, unprepared to defend myself from a wise guy premed student determined to knock me down. I hustled to get inside and I warned the guy. "Don't do it, you'll regret it." Wouldn't you know it, he got me just above the ear with a snowball that felt more like a shot put.

Some might consider my revenge to be overkill. You see, as bright as this premed guy was, it didn't occur to him that as a resident assistant, I was privileged to have a master key for the entire dormitory including of course, his room. I waited until about 2:00 in the morning, and quietly opened the door to the offender's room. I yanked the blanket and sheets off of him and emptied a large wastebasket of snow on the stunned and sleepy victim. Justice served.

Ah, snowy days! What a wonderful way to learn about life and love and total war.

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