Tonawanda News

January 30, 2014

KEPPELER: Snow day nostalgia

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The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — At 5:30 a.m. Tuesday, right on the nose, the cell phone that was perched on the bedside table started blaring its not-a-ring ringtone in my ear, startling me out of a rare, sound sleep and sending my adrenaline spiking through the roof.

Fumbling for the device, less than half awake, I managed to silence the phone, get it more or less to my ear and blurt out something along the lines of “Whaaa?”

“This is the Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda school district,” reported the emotionless voice on the other end (more or less, I wasn’t taking notes).  “Ken-Ton schools are closed today.”

Oh. Hardly stunning, since I’d really expected this to happen the night before (when both North Tonawanda and City of Tonawanda schools closed), but disconcerting nonetheless. I silenced the voice, tossed the phone in the direction of my dresser and pulled a pillow over my head, hoping that I’d gotten to the phone on time ...

Too late. I heard the plaintive sound of my older son’s voice: “Go to school today?”

This has be a winter to forget. Cold, snow — I can take ‘em, but the effect they’ve had on the family schedule and morale has been brutal. The boys are still at the stage where snow days are not something for which they eagerly hope, but a drag on their familiar routines of school and friends and activities. 

One day spent playing with their toys, watching movies and playing video games longer than they’re usually allowed was just fine, but six over the span of two months, with Christmas break included too? By Tuesday, they were bored — booooored, I tell you. Needy and whiny and bouncing off the walls and just plain not interested in anything but getting back to normal. I couldn’t really blame them. I felt the same way (although maybe with somewhat less whine.)

I’ve heard this is the coldest winter since 1977, and I can believe it. I can only hope it gets better from here.

Discussing the trials and perils of our children’ respective snow days, my friends and I indulged in a fit of nostalgia over social media the past couple of days. Growing up in Cattaraugus County’s Snow Belt, it took an Act of God to get school closed — at least, that’s the way it felt when we were kids. And that alma mater closed both Tuesday and Wednesday due to the cold temperatures. We were stunned.

Kids these days, eh? (At this point, before we could get too much into the “Get off my lawn!” jokes, the fact is I wouldn’t want my children out in the mere 1 or 2 degrees we had here in the Tonawandas at 8 a.m., let alone the 10 below zero Franklinville hit both days.)

At any rate, those rare snow days were prized things. Remember when the robocalls or texts weren’t the way you (or your parents) got the news? I remember perching next to the radio — the radio, kids these days! — and holding my breath as the the long litany of school districts wound its way past the “Fs.” The agony of hearing the announcer skip from “Forestville” to “Friendship!” The utter glee of hearing the district’s name pronounced!

To paraphrase one friend, it was a critical part of childhood. Even as the closure listings moved on to the morning TV news (which just ran periodically and not constantly, if I remember correctly), you’d wait in anticipation ... then glumly trudge off to get dressed or happily commit to a day in pajamas depending on the results. (I’d generally crawl back into bed with a book and indulge in a reading binge.)

As much as I fondly remember those days, however, as we leave January and enter February here in Western New York, I just hope we’re past the worst of it. 

The Keppeler boys concur. 

Jill Keppeler is a writer for the Tonawanda News. She can be reached at jill.keppeler@tonawanda-news.com. Follow her on Twitter @JillKeppeler.