, Corbin, KY


February 20, 2013

Memories of bigger snow days

CORBIN — - Published Feb. 7, 2012

Winter’s latest blast of snow, ice and frigid temperatures has had many of us wishing for spring to get on with it.

Although I’d say more than one child in school hasn’t much minded missing a day or two of classes here and there.

I know I never did.

The first couple years of elementary school we lived in an area where you attended school no matter what. I remember many a winter morning walking to the bus stop, which had a little shelter you might get lucky enough to stand in. Usually the bigger kids got in there first so they could smoke cigarettes before they got on the bus.

You heard the bus long before it arrived, because all the wheels were chained up.

Of course, in that same area where we lived I remember coming into the kitchen one morning, and it was dark in there — but light could be seen from the living room window facing the road.

My parents had built a home on a long-sloping piece of property which at the back of it, was a cornfield. Contractors had leveled out a backyard behind the house, but it had to be cut into the hillside somewhat to make it work.

When the winter snow storms would blow in, more often than not that backyard would apparently fill up with snow all the way up to the roof.

So after my parents moved down south, my mother never thought about it when the first snowfall of the winter hit. We got up, and I layered up, and my mother sent me out the door to the bus stop.

There wasn’t much snow on the ground, and it almost looked like it was clearing out.

And there I stood, surprisingly alone at the bus stop.

I waited for a while, looking for some of the other kids who usually walked to the bus stop.

No one ever came.

I started getting nervous, because Mom usually didn’t like for us to miss the bus — it always meant we had fooled around too long getting ready for school.

But when no one ever showed up after 20-30 minutes (it could have been longer), I started meandering toward the house.

I had to knock a few times, because she’d keep the door locked when she was alone during the day. So when my mother opened the door, she was definitely surprised to see me, and not too happy either. I told her “Mom I swear I was there waiting — nobody showed up at all.”

Puzzled, Mom called the school. And was stunned to learned that less than an inch of snow had fallen and shut down the schools.

Of course, we quickly adjusted to listening to the radio to see if school was cancelled — which made us happy and my mother groan.

Once I got into high school, snow days became another issue. The school calendar only allotted for five snow days — the “spring break” days, which more often than not turned into a three- or four-day weekend if we were lucky.

However, if the spring break days were used up, the next option was going on Saturday.

I remember the first time that came into play — the school system wisely chose the Saturday after the prom to make up for a snow day. I wasn’t old enough to attend that year, so it didn’t effect me so bad.

But imagine my surprise to see at least half of the juniors and seniors zombie-ing their way through the hallways, most of them in the wrinkled evening wear worn so graciously the night before.

I doubt too many of those kids absorbed much of an education that particular Saturday.

The worst snow I ever endured was when I lived in Bristol in an apartment. The apartment was in a house that was divided into about four or five residences.

Heat was included in the rent, supposedly, but as the landlord was apparently some type of drug addict, he decided he needed the money for his habit rather than pay the gas bill.

So the second week in January, the snow started coming down on Tuesday night. In a few hours, the roads were nearly impassable. By the next morning, 20 inches of snow had piled up. During the next 24 hours, another half foot was added to that, and the temperatures didn’t climb over freezing until the end of the weekend. But the roads and heavy snow had most everything shut down, and I was stuck in the apartment with a dog.

When Monday rolled around, the temperatures had climbed into the 40s. But the snow that melted the day before turned to ice overnight, making the roads even worse. But it didn’t matter. Because Tuesday night, another blast hit, this time exceeding 15 inches. Then we got another three or four days of snow showers.

And then the last snowstorm hit — by this time I had been stuck in that apartment for two weeks and was ready to lose my mind. It was so cold without the heat I forgot what my skin looked like — I stayed in layers over layers just trying to keep warm. If I had been smart, I would have called the cops on the landlord — but with the whacked-out druggie next door and the crazy chattering nutcase over my head, the police got sort of tired of showing up at the apartment house.

Mother Nature didn’t care — proving that with 18 or more inches of fresh snowfall. My car was completely buried — as were several along road who had to park in the street like I did. All you could see was a couple inches of the radio antennae.

I was never so glad to be done with the winter months.

And while I know I’ll be glad to see this winter become a frosty memory, I can’t help but to laugh when I hear myself complain about the winter months this season. As far as I can tell, it’s been pretty mild — yes there’s been some ice and snow. But not enough really to lock us in the house for days and days on end.

However, winter hasn’t yet ended — I could be jinxing us all.

John L. Ross is a reporter for the Times-Tribune. He can be reached at

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