ITEM PHOTO BY JIM WILSON
The parking ban in Lynn keeps Washington Street clear during the snow storm.
There was a time — and it wasn’t long ago — when snow days elevated imagination to new heights and inspired, sometimes forced, kids to find fun ways to while away a day with siblings, parents and all that white stuff.
Television, video games, mobile devices — any form of electronics — were nonexistent or prohibited for use by parents who wanted kids on their day off to be more than dull-witted robots glued to a screen.
Snow days always seemed longer than school days and the best part of a snow day was the night before when a telephone call or television broadcast announced school closings.
A typical snow day of yesteryear meant tugging on snow suits, pulling rubber boots with metal buckles onto feet wrapped in plastic bags and donning wool hats and wool mittens. Lofty goals like shoveling the driveway or front walk quickly crumbled under an onslaught of imagination that turned snowy yards into mazes and gave birth to snowmen, snow forts and snow angels.
Porch stairs turned into sled slopes and icicles turned into toreador spears. Snow was the great equalizer allowing little kids to nail bigger ones with a well-aimed snowball and giving someone’s sister the chance to stuff snow down the back of a sibling’s coat.
The fun and excitement only ended when wool mitts were wringing wet and pull-on boots filled with snow that somehow always made its way into the plastic bags. No one stopped playing until their cheeks glowed rosy-red from cold or their teeth started chattering.
Snow days provided stay-at-home mothers with the perfect opportunity to make sure kids got plenty of exercise and had their share of fun before cold, dampness and exhaustion took their toll. Cocoa and brownies always seemed to be waiting on the tail end of several hours spent running around aimlessly in the snow.
But the fun didn’t get left on the doormat. Socks wadded into balls and living room furniture shoved against the wall turned a rug or the carpet into a “knee football” field. Two couches or chairs lined up like goals made “knee hockey” possible until the noise level reached the point where more cocoa and cookies were dispensed.
Satiated by cocoa and worn out by the weather, kids who enjoyed yesteryear’s snow days typically wrapped up afternoons with board games. Candy Land and Operation gave way to Monopoly and the youngest kids were nodding out or napping before hotels sprang up on Saint James Place or Vermont Avenue.
There rarely seemed to be time for television on a snow day and daytime television typically offered kid-unfriendly fare like game shows and soap operas. Social media may offer more diversion than the entertainment available on old-fashioned snow days. But mobile devices are on track to eliminating snow days in the same way they have eliminated days off from work.
Today’s parents can plug into the job day or night or on vacation and tomorrow’s kids will wake up on a snow day to find their iPhone or Samsung packed with electronically-dispensed homework assignments.
On that busy, time-on-task snow day of the future, snowmen, cocoa and knee hockey are going to have to take a backseat along with fun.