It's been so cold here in Florida these last few days that I had to park the flip-flops and fish out a pair of shoes. I know, it's been a tough winter everywhere ...
The cold weather has tripped some brrrriffic memories of growing up in Wisconsin, where every winter night we kids brushed our teeth, washed our faces, bundled up for bed and said our prayers just like all the other kids around the world. We probably prayed for our moms and dads and families, good health, happiness and world peace, but during the winter I only remember praying for one thing: snow.
In addition to providing a fresh layer of powder for our toboggans and sleds, snow -- if it came down long enough and hard enough overnight -- might just get you out of school the next day. There is nothing quite like a snow day, or even the anticipation of a snow day.
We'd awaken by 6 a.m., peer through frosted windows into the icy darkness and listen for the unmistakable sounds of tires crunching over fresh snow. If it was really cold -- I'm talking below zero, which is all too common -- we hoped to hear car starters grind repeatedly and engines fail to turn over.
And we would have our six-transistors tuned to a radio station 40 miles away that would ultimately decide our fate. An official-sounding voice would announce school closings as they became known throughout the frozen coulee region. Town after town, school district after school district, would be called out. And if we were lucky, at some point we would hear "No school today in the ... Whitehall school district.''
Even today, living 1,400 miles away, I find myself rooting for snow days for the kids back home. And I hope, if they still listen to the radio up there in the morning, they hear sounds on news radio that will stick with them like a bowl of warm rumagrout. One station, I think it was in La Crosse, used to continually play the words to an old Irving Berlin tune that drove me crazy:
Oh ... how ... I .... hate to get up in the morning!
Oh how I'd love to remain in bed!
Some of the commercials were also unforgettable. The one I can still hear in my head is a deep, serious voice making this bold declaration:
is the best baloney --
and that's no baloney!!!!
While home last December I stopped into a cafe in a neighboring town for breakfast. After scanning the menu I asked the waitress if their sausage was any good. She stared at me as if I had just questioned her sexual preference, and exclaimed:
"Sir, we serve Maloney's here!!!''
And that's no baloney.