January 22, 2014
In honor of today’s snow day (again), I decided to repost this blog from last winter. Everytime it snows I think back to growing up wih my snow chairs (lol).
Stay warm and enjoy!
“Snow Chairs” courtesy of Wikipedia
It is a snowy Friday here in the Garden State and this blogger is not too happy about it. The thing is, I really just do not like snow. Yeah I know, it looks pretty when it falls, the kids love to play in it and there is nothing better than cuddling up to a nice fire, with hot coco in hand, after a day of frolicking in the snow.
Really?? I disagree.
Snow is cold and messy, causes unnecessary traffic delays and accidents, makes people feel the need to stock up on milk and bread AND it causes me have to go outside and clean off my van (in the snow) before herding my crew to the bus stop.
You know, now that I think about, I think the real reason I hate the snow has a lot to do with cleaning off my car. Let me explain.
I grew up in a small town in Bergen County, on the cusp of Passaic County really. While I would not call my town “urban” it was certainly not a suburban utopia like Wysteria Lane.
My brother, mom and I rented the upstairs apartment of a 2-family home and had to climb up what seemed like a million steps (it was probably more like 10) to get to our front door.
Our house had no driveway which meant we had to park on the street. Normally this wasn’t a problem. Most of the other houses on the block had driveways so a parking spot was not that hard to come by.
However, weekends were a different story. Did I mention the tiny “pub” across the street from my house (it was more of a dive bar but pub sounds better)?
Yes, I lived across the street from The Gregory Club and on weekends its’ clientele spilled over onto our street once the parking lot was full. Actually this wasn’t a problem for me until I graduated from college and got a car (don’t ask why it took so long) but I digress.
Anyway, getting back to the snow. Growing up, when it snowed, my brother and I would watch my Mom bundle herself up in her snow gear and go outside to shovel her car out and clear a path to the front door.
My Mom was a single parent, and not always equipped with the best tools for foul weather or household repairs. Most times Mom was able to shovel with a regular snow shovel. Other times, though, I can remember her using a dirt shovel or a broom to get the job done. Really it depended on what was around at the time of the storm.
Mom would shovel for what seemed like hours, as my brother and I watched her from the living room window (this is when we were little, when we got older we had to help). If there had been a big storm, Mom would sometimes take a break, and come inside for something to drink and a new pair of gloves.
Believe it or not, there was a method to shoveling out the car. First, it was important to start shoveling on the driver’s side and throw all the shoveled snow into the street (so the snow plows could flatten it out). The goal being to get the driver’s side door open so you would be able to start the car and let it “warm up.”
Second, you continued shoveling until it was possible to drive the car out of the spot and double park it somewhere on the street. This step was key as it provided you with more room to shovel AND allowed you to clear a nice big spot for your vehicle.
How big or small your parking spot was, depended on how many cars were parked on the street and if there was a car parked in front or behind your car. Lastly, when shoveling was completed, you backed your car into the parking spot, stood back and admired all your hard work.
Now for the good part.
When it was time to leave for school, work or the store, there was NO WAY in hell Mom (or anyone else on the block) would risk leaving a great parking spot, up for grabs. It was just unheard of.
So…..what did we do to “reserve” our spot????
We did what any other “normal” Northern New Jersey resident did – we put a garbage can in the cleared parking spot.
This was just the “it” thing to do. Everyone did it – no, seriously EVERYONE.
During the winter months it was not uncommon to see a chair, bucket, ladder, garbage can or even a vacuum cleaner (I swear I saw a vacuum holding a spot in Wallington, NJ circa 1989) holding a spot on the street.
In addition, it was an unwritten rule that under NO circumstances was the garbage can (or other holding object) to be removed unless it was by the “owner” of the parking spot.
I am not kidding you. This was “law” and it was strictly adhered to. My entire life, I thought everyone did this. Really, I didn’t know any better. I assumed everyone got out of the car (in the snow) and helped their mom put a garbage can in a parking spot when they left for school or work. It was all I ever knew.
It was not until I met the husband in 1997, and he laughed (hysterically) at me when I explained the significance of the garbage can on our snow-covered street. The husband was from “south” Jersey and had no idea what the hell I was talking about. He thought it was a joke – and it so was NOT a joke.
I remember calmly explaining the tradition to the husband and him asking me what stopped people from moving the can. You just don’t, its common sense was my reply.
I lived on the same street for over 20 years and not once did our garbage can ever get moved – until our last winter there but I can’t even talk about that it is just too painful.
This morning a I cleaned the van off with my snow broom (and a herniated disk) I thought about all those winters and the garbage cans and couldn’t help but smile – and wonder why I don’t live in Florida.
Hope you enjoyed my little snow memory. TGIF everyone!