At this time of year, kids all across are on occasion hit with a snow day or two, just as they were last week in just about every district in the entire region.
Now, I’m quick to admit (loudly, if necessary) that I am not in any way a fan of the snow, of cold weather, or of anything about winter. That said, I’m still interested in what kids around Wentzville like to do with their days off of school. Just because I’m inside hiding doesn’t mean everyone is. For that matter, there was a time when I was happy to get out and enjoy a snow day by doing something other than complaining about how much disdain I have for the white stuff.
So while you sit back and ponder what you (or your kids) were doing last week during your time off, I’d like to share a tale from yesteryear – back when I actually found a way to enjoy one particular part of winter.
In our high school years, a group of four friends – Derek, his brother Nathan, Doug and myself–got together on the first big snowfall of the year and competed in what we called the annual “Snow Bowl.”
The criteria we laid out for what we considered enough snow to play was simple–school was called off for snow. Not for cold, not for ice, but for snow. And while I can’t tell you exactly how many years this tradition lasted, I know it was more than a year or two.
We played in my front yard (from my southern neighbor’s driveway, through the in-between yard and up to Derek and Nathan’s driveway). We played one year in Doug’s backyard. We even had one year when a neighbor came over (he was in his late 20s and dominated everyone) and crashed the party. One snowy afternoon, our annual game (which took place in Maryland Heights) was nearly crashed by another friend, Bob from St. Ann, but we informed him if the weather was good enough for him to drive over, it wasn’t bad enough to play the Snow Bowl. Bitterness ensued.
Typically, though, despite the changes in format over the years, it was a simple game. Jeff and Nathan vs. Derek and Doug. This created a great matchup, and most years things were pretty even. It was a tackle game, throw it for kickoffs, no extra points or field goals (touchdowns were worth seven), and once we determined an ending point–which was agreed upon DURING the game based on frostbite and weariness–the first team to get ahead by two scores was the winner.
One particular year, we’d gotten the score to about 49-49 when we decided the first team to get ahead by two touchdowns was the winner. This made sense to Derek. It made sense to Nathan. It made sense to me. Doug, on the other hand, was less than pleased.
It seems that in Snow Bowl II, which took place in 1990, Doug chose to wear a hooded sweatshirt and blue jeans (see pictures to verify) to the big game. He was, in a word, cold.
After convincing him to stick around, Nathan and I went up 56-49 and were set to “kick off” to Derek and Doug. That’s when things got very, very ugly.
As any good kick returner does, Doug fielded the Nerf version of the pigskin and started down the field. With Nathan in hot pursuit, Doug “fumbled” the ball. And by fumbled, I mean he yelled “oh no” with just about as little emphasis as he could and literally handed the ball to Nathan. Neighbors all around could hear Derek’s angst.
But wait, it got worse.
Once Nathan had the ball, he started up field with only his brother between him and victory. Well, and Doug. But as sure as I live and breathe, I witnessed something from a few feet behind the play I never thought I’d see. Not only had Doug “fumbled,” but then proceeded to throw quite a block–on his own teammate–to ensure that Derek could not tackle Nathan. Nathan, meanwhile, trotted into the end zone to give Team Jeff and Nathan the victory.
Nathan and I celebrated. Derek fell to the ground, cries of agony and disbelief his only sounds. Doug trotted home to get warm. And with that, Snow Bowl II was in the books.
Maybe you had to be there. Maybe your kids do the same thing with similar or completely different outcomes. Maybe you had some sort of similar snow-day activity. For us, it was tradition. It was fun. It was something we did. And to this day, we all remember it like it was yesterday.
For those memories, I am grateful.