Or maybe it was 1948. We had snow in Atlanta – my first snow, about 3 inches of it, that stuck. I know it was around this time because Gaga (grandfather) had died by then, but I was still pretty little. My little Gam (grandmother) got out the galvanized dishpan, and Momma slid me down the driveway and pulled me back up about 15 times before distracting me with gathering snow for Gam to make snow ice cream. Since milk was not homogenized back then, it was easy to get some cream off the top of the milk to use for the cream. So a big bowl full of clean snow, a cup of cream and some vanilla and some sugar (to taste) stirred up together. It was so different and so good!
Then Momma and I built an itty bitty snowman in the front yard (even with a front yard the size of 1/4 of a football field, it’s hard to get enough snow to make a significantly large snowman). The kids across the street were envious – my yard was larger and I had more snow, so I had a larger snowman. Momma didn’t get a chance to take a picture of the snowman before they came rushing over and destroyed it! I cried, and Momma called their Momma. She called them home and I heard them crying, so I know they got a spanking.
My friend from a couple doors down came up and we worked on trying to make the snowman better, but ended up making snowballs out of him instead – had a snowball fight, I got my face “washed” in snow, cried, got told both by my Momma and by my friend to not be a “baby” about it – if I was going to play with the big kids expect to be treated like a big kid.
We went back to throwing snowballs for another 5 minutes or so, but I was tiring out – after all, I was only about 5 or 6 – and I was getting really cold. I went inside for a hot lunch, some indoor, quiet play, and a nap.
Remember, this was the SOUTH. Three inches of snow paralyzed us. No school, no work, buses not running, cars not on the roads, nothing! Except, Mathis Dairy was running, so we could get our milk! Mr. Broyles’ truck was running, so we could get groceries – he had special things on his tires (when I was older I discovered they were called chains). Since he was 1 door up from Westbrook’s Drug Store, if we had needed anything from there, Mr. Broyles would have delivered it for Dr. Westbrook. People helped each other out back then. And since Rhodes Bakery was located only a few doors up from Broyles’ Grocery, we could have gotten a delivery from there via Mr. Broyles’ if necessary.
But, luckily, in the South, snowstorms usually only last about 1-3 days, so we were fine.
Life was great back then. The only shadows on my life were my grandfather’s death in 1946 and my parents’ divorce the same year. These defining events in my life left me in an essentially female world. I was constantly cautioned to come home from my friends’ homes before the father of the family got home from work, so I wouldn’t disturb their family. There was something mysterious that went on in families that I wasn’t “privy to” that happened after fathers came home, that I didn’t know about – that I never knew about until after I was married and had children. Then I wondered what the big deal had been about.
But back to the snow in 1947. It melted in just a few days, of course, after starting to look ugly. I cried.
I remember crying a lot as a child – over things that I had absolutely no control over. Mostly I had no control over my life. But then, no kid does. Did that make me into a “control-freak?” I don’t think so. It made me competitive, though. If I couldn’t compete in one area, I’d compete in another area. My grades weren’t always the best, but learning stuff was easy.
And snow always made me feel – loved. I remember sliding down the driveway – and the snow ice cream – and the snowman. And I remember my family that loved me very much – and whom I took for granted as all well-loved children do.