Cold weather shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. After all, it’s winter in Buffalo. This deep freeze seems to happen every year around this time. Maybe not this cold, but close.
When I was young, winter was fun, though mothers dressed their kids in so many clothes it was hard to navigate. Some friends took me to Delaware Park lake when it froze over so I could learn to skate. In the beginning, all I could do was stand there and watch the older kids skate, as I accidently twirled around and fell down.
When I was a teen, the city used to freeze the little kids’ swimming pool in Riverside Park. I didn’t live too far from there, so my friends and I would bundle up in long underwear, denim jeans, a turtleneck shirt, two sweaters, a scarf, earmuffs, two pairs of socks and high boots and we were good to go.
Trudging along over the high snow piles left by the plows was always a challenge. But being young, we charged on, and with all that exercise, we were never cold. As we approached our destination, the excitement was building as we wondered who else would be there. I never did see who cleaned off the area so we could skate, but the ice was always ready and waiting for us to show off our skills.
I never remember fights or disagreements among anyone. It was a different time. Those were the days when you could walk anywhere without fear of being harassed or endangered. No one drove you anywhere. Our moms didn’t have to worry about problems arising, so were given a lot of freedom. No cellphones, iPads or iPods for us – just plain old fun.
When we all had rosy, red cheeks and runny noses, we knew it was time to move on to the soda shop for some hot chocolate. A nice old-fashioned stove was waiting for us, and everyone put their gloves and boots close by to warm up. A lot of good tunes were playing on the jukebox while we were getting our toes toasty warm.
Nobody was dressed in the latest fashions. In those days, scarves and gloves usually were handmade and we wore clothes inherited from older family members. Nobody cared where they came from; we were just happy to have them. Most of us also had hand-me-down skates, which we decorated with tassels and other stuff just for the fun of it.
The older you got, the later you could stay out. Night skating was the best – especially if a guy asked you to skate.
As time went by, everyone grew up and moved on. The pool was replaced with a new skating rink, where you could rent skates and order refreshments. It had all of the amenities that go with a modern skating rink. In the summer, our ice time was replaced with roller rinks.
This winter feels like it has been an unusually cold one. I’m sure we had them back then, but with all the motion and exercise and not a care in the world, I guess we never noticed it too much. Being young always helps.
My church recently acquired a new pastor from Texas. He had never experienced this type of frigid weather for days on end. At Christmas time, a few of us grandmothers bought him a pair of long underwear, knowing what he might be in store for. They have really paid off because it has been colder than any of us expected.
So bring it on. I will be wearing my cuddle duds and warming the hot chocolate on the stove.