Ahh, snow days…..
Remember when we were kids and the snow started falling? What an exciting and glorious feeling. The possibilities were endless: School being canceled, riding our sleds and inner tubes down the hills, snowball fights, building snow fort walls for our snowball fights, making snowmen and snow angels, etc. I think the best feeling was that the big world, we lived in, suddenly came to a standstill and we all just enjoyed the simplicity of having fun with no responsibilities nor commitments. We had an excuse “It’s snowing, I can’t be expected to be anywhere or do much of anything. Even our parents seemed to give in to the idea that this was like a mini vacation, a reprieve, to take a day or two and enjoy the beauty and simplicity of no expectations.
Memories as a kid……….
As a kid growing up, in University Place, in the 1970’s I remember snow days of epic proportions. Back then there were a lot of woods and hilly terrains which were perfect for designing courses for our inner tube and sled runs. There were a lot of kids throughout the adjoining neighborhoods which made for great snowball fights and inner tube run competitions. Probably my favorite run was a course we called Knoll’s hill. It was a steep windy track at the back of our friend E.J.’s house. It led to the swampland down below. The hill was surrounded by trees and underbrush but the windy path itself was rather smooth and had natural berms on the sides. After a few runs, the snow packed down nicely and iced over. We could build up some pretty good speed on our inner tubes and found that if we built a jump about halfway down, we could catch some pretty good air. I remember being out there so long that I was practically frostbitten (it seemed) I was so cold. It didn’t take long for my Waffle Stompers (very much the style in footwear back then) to get wet and not hold much heat. We didn’t have all the fancy high- tech clothing we have now. Regardless, we always had great times.
We had a lot of ponds in University Place back then. They iced over and were so Thick that we could walk on them. There was one down by the church, in Fircrest, on 40th (Emerson) between 67th and Alameda that people actually ice skated on. There was the one by Knoll’s hill, and then there was one, in the woods (at the time), behind Bridgeport., between 40th and 44th. I remember I was walking to school, one morning, and I took a short cut, through the woods (as I always did). It was snowing slightly, as I came upon the pond, and decided to cross over it instead of walking around it as usual. I knew it had been really cold, for days, and the pond would be iced over pretty good. Jogging down the hill toward the pond, and as my feet hit the ice, they came out from underneath and I landed flat on my back, hitting my head on the ice. I don’t know if I was knocked out completely or not, but I must have laid there on that ice for a good 5 minutes or so. That day I learned a valuable lesson about making poor decisions, hastily thinking I was indestructible, and the general rule of the theory of relativity!!! Anyway, I eventually got up, shook it off, and made my way to school no worse for wear, but with a nice lump on the back of my head.
Young adult snow years……………..
Woohoo!!! The snows seemed to lessen from year to year as I got older. It hardly ever snowed, and when it did, it was very light, and it did not last. That is until the late nineteen eighties. The snow fell for days one year and seemed to shut everything down. My best friend, Ty, and I were roommates at a fourplex down at Mason Loop Drive on Tyler street. There was so much snow that accumulated that our power went out. We couldn’t drive to work or anywhere else. So, what were a couple of young guys to do but venture out and see what was going on in the world? We hiked through snow that accumulated to a depth up to our knees. We walked down Tyler street towards Center Street and ended up at a tavern, in Oakland, called the nineteenth hole. The group of us had a great time. We met everybody from around the area who was in the same boat as us. Again, that feeling of the world kind of stopping for a while, with no expectations, and shooting the breeze and having a good time with folks that are in the same situation and making the best of it.
Adult snow years…………..
It must have been in the nineties when we had the big ICE STORM. It was snowing too, but I remember the ice was so damaging to our trees etc. My girlfriend, Beth (who is now my wife) and I were living in a small house on North 44th street. The power was out at our house and we decided to take a walk in the snow. It was such a beautiful sight to see all of the white snow all around and it was equally beautiful and even more fascinating to see all of the ice that had formed on EVERYTHING. Although the damage the ice had caused was considerable, it was still a sight to see. As we walked through the neighborhood, we soon found the source of our power failure. A live wire was on the street and sparking and jumping around. We decided to take a detour. We ended up walking down Pearl street to Indochine. At the time, it was a relatively new restaurant to the area (it is still there) and we decided to give it a try. It was fabulous! Another find that we probably would never have gotten around to trying if we didn’t have this circumstance come up.
Mid 2000’s The Big Snow!!!!!…………..
We hadn’t had much snow for years. It was nearing the holidays and it was getting pretty cold outside. I was putting in a full day of pest control as the snow started to fall late afternoon. It wasn’t seeming to stick, too much, and I had a 4-wheel drive truck, so I wasn’t too worried. My route was in Gig Harbor that day and since we lived there, I planned on finishing my day out and taking my truck home. My wife Beth was back at our Tacoma office and she made sure that everything was in order there. The technicians were called in from the field and they, along with the office staff, were sent home early as a safety precaution. I had one more job, in the field, left to do. It was a treatment for a family who were having issues with rats at their house and I wanted to get it done for them. By the time I reached the house, the snow was really coming down and it was sticking. As I came around the corner, to their street, I saw that their house was up a fairly steep hill and the driveway was a steep downward hill!
I parked my truck at the bottom of their street and hiked up to their house.
After I got all of the lowdown, on the problem, it was time to inspect and put a plan of action into place. After several trips back and forth to my truck (for coveralls, equipment, etc.) I put my plan of attack into place and I was ready to wrap things up and go. This was about an hour and a half later and I hadn’t really paid attention to the snowfall. When I got in my truck, it hit me that the streets and everything else was blanketed with snow. I was about 5 or 6 miles from my home, so I put the truck in 4 wheel and off I went. My truck was making it pretty good, through the snow, and there wasn’t anyone else on the back roads of the Ray Nash area. As I came upon the old Sehmel homestead (which is now Sehmel Park) I approached the corner of Chapman/ 78th and Sehmel Drive. There was a guy standing by his car at the side of the road, so I stopped to see if he needed some help. He told me he didn’t need help, he was just looking at, and contemplating, the steep menacing hill he had to go down then immediately continue up the hill after you reach the bottom. I told him that I would “plow the way” for him with my truck, as I needed to go this way to get home and advised him to get up to a steady rate of speed and continue it down and up the long steep hills. I wished him good luck and off I went to blaze the trail. It was a piece of cake!!! Of course, I had a 4-wheel drive, but I’m quite sure he was able to make it through. A few minutes later I was turning the corner to my neighborhood. When I arrived at my house, my wife was just finishing up shoveling the entire driveway!!
Little did we know…..
We were in for much more snow to come and we would be shoveling the driveway a few more times!! The snow proved to be a real force that year. We missed several days of work, and our power was out for 3 or 4 days. A friend lent us a small generator that we could plug 2 things into temporarily (a hair dryer and a coffee pot), which came in handy when it came time to get ready for our company Christmas party at C.I. Shenanigans. I really feel for folks when we hear that their power has been out for an extensive period of time. We take a lot of our simple day to day conveniences for granted. The power finally came on towards Christmas and we were able to have our family over for a nice dinner. The main roads were now clear, but a lot of snow and ice remained on our neighborhood streets. That is until a local “neighbor” with a big bulldozer came by and cleared pathways throughout the neighborhood streets! Again, there’s something about snow that brings people together and forms a camaraderie. That gesture really went a long way to make our family “get together” very heartwarming and reinforced the very value of Christmas. That gift was better than any present we received that year.
Today’s snow day…………..
We didn’t think much of it when we saw the reports leading up to today. Everything seemed to indicate that it was going to be a dusting without much effect. As we saw it snowing, during the super bowl (yawn) we still didn’t think it was going to be much of a problem for work the next day. Still, Beth and I have a business and a priority to our customers and our employees, so we watched the news and wondered what tomorrow would hold as we closed our eyes for the night. As we awoke and looked outside, we saw the white dusting of a light blanket of snow on the lawns and streets. It didn’t look like anything too intimidating nor worthy of stopping our daily routine. We watched the news as we got ready for work. Reports were a “mixed bag”. Some areas were worse than others, but as a whole, it didn’t look too bad. We decided to drive into work to get a better feel for the streets and surrounding neighborhoods. As we drove through our Gig Harbor neighborhood and onto the freeway, it seemed like there was not going to be much of an issue that would prevent us from working today. The Narrows Bridge actually did have “severe side winds” as the flashing sign always reports (even on calm days) and the snow was picking up again. We approached our exit at 6th and Pearl and discovered quite a bit of snow and Ice on the street and the traffic light was out. Making our way down 6th ave it was the same story. Did the City of Tacoma not even prepare for this? Every one of our dedicated employees showed up to work today. Even the ones living in Lacey and Longbranch. There were no excuses and no sniveling about having to work out in the cold. Nevertheless, Beth and I had a decision to make.
We did not want to put our employees in harm’s way, nor inconvenience our customers.
We decided to take a wait and see approach. As we watched the snow coming down at a pretty good pace, along with the wind, it took about 15 minutes for us to come to the conclusion that it was in everyone’s best interest to call it. We wanted to make sure that the employees, especially the ones living far out, could get home safely and our customers were getting the best that we could give. We sent everyone home and called all of our customers who were scheduled for today, to reschedule. After shoveling and de-icing the office sidewalks, Beth and I headed to our snow day…………..The Clover Leaf!!!! That “Monster” is truly delicious, isn’t it? I hope everyone had a safe and fun snow day!
Grown up decisions…………..
Obviously, there are many, many more stories of snow days growing up, these are the few that first pop into my head. As I read them over, I can see how priorities change as we grow older and take on new responsibilities. What once was a day that we saw to take advantage of a free day, we now, as business owners, look at a snow day as a day that we need to analyze and worry about how we are going to make it work. My wife and I have always loved the snow, and always will. There’s something about a fresh blanket of snow that makes everything look so clean and sound so quiet and peaceful. It does create many issues we never thought about when we were kids and happy to have a free day to play out in the snow with our friends…….
What’s your snow day story?…………..
We’d love to hear from you and share your stories