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Confessions of an Old Geezer | Mary Biever | One Writing Mother

Confessions of an Old Geezer

This morning, I have graduated to the ranks of an old geezer.


A snowstorm is coming. It’s not here. Note the amount of snow on my car right now. All area schools cancelled in anticipation of the storm. Fine. I don’t have a problem with that – it could be a hassle to get everyone home. I don’t want to see kids get hurt.

My problem is other organizations base closings on the school corporation. Tonight, I have a community meeting that’s cancelled because of EVSC’s decision to cancel school today.  No problem. 

However, this morning my kids’  scheduled morning swim was automatically cancelled because of the snowstorm that’s not here yet. By the time the practice would have ended, there would be less than 1/2 an inch of snow on the ground.

As some point, we have surrendered our common sense in the name of policy and out of fear of litigation.

So here’s the old geezer rant:

In my school district growing up, the superintendent hated snow days because he wanted to take Easter week off to Florida. That’s back when spring break corresponded with Easter. 

We lived in a small county, over 50% rural, and the buses struggled their way on county roads. We went to school when it snowed 6 inches overnight. Granted, the day we did that was when our high school basketball team was due to play a sectionals game that we would forfeit if school were let out.

There were times school buses didn’t arrive until 9 a.m., but by golly we got in our school day so the superintendent could tan in Florida in March and the ball team could compete.

The only times we really had snow days were during the winters of ’77 and ’78, when we had the blizzard.  Then, we were out of school a month.

Those bad winters, I had a foot paper route that took an hour in good weather and 2-3 hours after a bad snowstorm. I didn’t miss a day of the route. So, yes, I walked through two feet of snow. And was thankful for the paycheck. If we got a chance to shovel walks for someone for money, we were thankful for that too.

We survived and thrived because of a little hardship and a lot of snow.

Can’t we judge for ourselves the hazards in our own driveway and decide whether we can make a trip?

45 Responses to “Confessions of an Old Geezer”

  1. Kim January 20, 2011 at 8:56 am #

    THANK YOU! 30 yrs ago we certainly would have gone to school on every day we have been out this year. Rural school disrtict for me too. However, 30 yrs ago, the school corp wouldn’t have been sued if a bus slid a couple inches! UGH

  2. Mikalee Byerman January 20, 2011 at 10:14 am #

    You ask, “Can’t we judge for ourselves the hazards in our own driveway and decide whether we can make a trip?”

    But that would assume we all have common sense, and school districts have to assume lowest common denominator…sadly…


  3. auntbethany January 20, 2011 at 10:17 am #

    I completely agree with you! We never had a snow day growing up, unless we got FEET of snow, not inches. I’m from an area near Buffalo, NY, so I’m used to seeing the white stuff from October until May sometimes. Kids today…they see 5 inches and think it’s a blizzard. Ha!

    Great post! Kudos on FP!

  4. The Perfectly Imperfect One January 20, 2011 at 10:25 am #

    In my school days, we only had ONE day when school was canceled all through elementary, junior and senior high. And that was the blizzard of 1988! ONE DAY! Today, everyone is so freaked out by the snow and no one goes to school anymore. I think, PANSIES :)

    Congrats on being freshly pressed

  5. Patterson Taswell January 20, 2011 at 10:30 am #

    Good points. It’s too bad there aren’t enough sensible people. There are too many people who can’t make those decisions themselves.

  6. The Simple Life of a Country Man's Wife January 20, 2011 at 10:44 am #

    I see what you’re saying, but that’s quite a liability on the school. I guess it’s best to be safe than sorry …

  7. jaredblakedicroce January 20, 2011 at 11:06 am #

    I agree,
    Sure the cancellations are insurance against lawsuits (which are, I’m saddened to say, a certainty if someone get’s hurt – it’s as if we’re no longer responsible for our own facilities… but i digress), but in the end we should still have the choice, teacher and student alike… and we simply don’t.
    Great article (gratz on being FP)

  8. Joel Yoder January 20, 2011 at 11:08 am #

    I agree, Evansvillians are very squeamish when it comes to snow, almost to the point of comic sometimes. (“Why is all the milk and bread sold out? They only forecasted 1 inch!”) But there is a valid line of reasoning behind today’s closings.
    My dad says when he drove out just half an hour ago or so, there was a lot of ice under the snow, and people were off the road and sliding around everywhere. I guess there are always two sides to every story.

  9. jule1 January 20, 2011 at 11:16 am #

    I think what you are suggesting would take too much common sense, which seems to be receding from our collective memory. Also, I think how people get to school now has changed a lot. It seems to me that most parents drive their kids these days. Back when I was in school (and I guess this makes me an old geezer, too), we walked, we rode bikes, or if kids lived really far, they took the bus. Most parents simply didn’t drive their kids. Now they do.

    Forgive me for generalizing, but in certain areas people are such complete idiots when it comes to driving in snow, even 1/2″, that the real danger is from all the poor drivers on the road. And that’s the real danger, imo.

  10. dearexgirlfriend January 20, 2011 at 11:17 am #

    30 years ago this country wasnt so hell bent on lawsuits and liability…not that i dont agree with you.

  11. Katie January 20, 2011 at 11:46 am #

    I agree Mary! I also don’t understand why the schools in my neighborhood where the kids could (hold onto your hats) WALK! are canceled b/c of a few rural schools. Especially the private schools. I used to have to drive 30 minutes to high school and they never closed. If the nuns could walk the 1/8 of a block to the school, we had school.

    I do have to say though that I am more scared driving in Evansville with 1 inch of snow than in chicago with 6 b/c people here don’t know how to drive in snow. If you have teenagers, these are perfect days to take them into an empty lot (so not the grocery store where everyone is stocking up on canned goods) and teach them to start and stop safely in the snow. It is a skill to learn to drive safely in bad weather. When I took my driving test there was 3 inches of fresh snow on the ground plus about 6 inches of old stuff. I didn’t worry driving around town until the guy behind me slide off the road b/c of a stop light.

  12. dweebcentric January 20, 2011 at 11:49 am #

    Just as in other cities with usually mild winters and not all that much snow, DC practically shuts down at the word of one or two inches of snow (though we did have our own miserable winter last year). The kids must love going to school here with the obscene amount of school closings declared over rumored bad weather. On the other hand, when the weather really is horrendous, I love how people feel compelled to needlessly be out and about, and sometimes idiotically stranding themselves in the process.

  13. acleansurface January 20, 2011 at 11:50 am #

    Everyone is entitled to an old geezer rant now and then.

  14. Janet January 20, 2011 at 11:54 am #

    Good article; I agree with your comments. I’m 60 and I don’t recall ever having a snow day. Not only that, we girls were REQUIRED to wear dresses, no matter what the weather was. We would be sent home if we came to school in pants. The thing that is different now about the schools I attended, is that most of the students walked to school back then. Now, there are so many that come by bus, I think that makes a difference. I understand your comments, but I lived in Seattle back then, and when there is an inch of snow you can’t get up and down the hills. I’m not there now, but the hills still are!

  15. dearliv January 20, 2011 at 12:11 pm #

    It’s all perspective. Where I live, we see snow every five years. The whole city shuts down for 1/2 an inch. I say grab a mug of hot cocoa, drape a blanket over your legs, and enjoy your rocking chair.

    On a side note, as a parent I complain anytime they cancel my children’s activities. I live for the moments in the day when somebody else gets to yell at them.

  16. Emjayandthem January 20, 2011 at 12:11 pm #

    I hear you loud & clear Geezer!!

    Growing up in rural Saskatchewan, our little prairie school instituted a “buddy” system so that farm kids like me were paired up with a town family in case of such events. Note – events meant -40 Temps with blinding wind. As kids, we thought it was a fantastic adventure to be “storm stayed” with a “townie” family … guess that probably doesn’t happen anymore, either.

    Great post! Cheers … MJ

  17. leahcoombs January 20, 2011 at 12:50 pm #

    I currently live in Toronto, but I am originally from Newfoundland. I moved to Ontario in 2005 to attend college. The first time there was a snow day, and my college classes were canceled I was furious. A) because there was hardly anything on the ground, and B) because I was pretty sure that I was paying THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS of dollars to attend this college. I moved from a different province! I tried to be understanding.. I am from Newofundland of course, and I was used to snow piles so high they covered our living room windows and went up to the roof. But people in Ontario can’t even drive properly if there’s a bit of snow on the ground. It’s insanity!

    All I know is that when I was going through grade school in Newofundland… I think we had ONE snow day, and that was when 70 cm’s of snow had fallen. And one year we had no school for a week because the power was out in the whole city. Even then, the University was still open.

  18. ferkung January 20, 2011 at 12:54 pm #

    I find it interesting that people point the litigitiousness of the American populace, yet don’t see that when schools are closed, no one does anything.

    I worked at karate schools where the schools would be closed from the legitimate overnight snowstorm, and the school would be empty at 4pm for a usually-full class of kids while the roads were not only clear, but most of the snow had melted.

    The “Snow Day” mentality to me is more dangerous than “sue-happy” people “controlling” our lives.

  19. notesfromrumbleycottage January 20, 2011 at 1:30 pm #

    I never understood why anyone south of say, Indianapolis, acted like less that an inch of snow was worthy of closing down the schools. We have had ice storms in the last year or so and there was still school. And, yes, I do live north of Indianapolis. Great Rant! I remember the blizzard of ’78. that was a real winter.

  20. Mary Cox January 20, 2011 at 1:37 pm #

    I don’t remember EVER having a snow day growing up in Salt Lake City. And now that I live in Alaska I there has been exactly 4 snow days in the past 10 years! Bundle those kiddies up, snow hardship builds character.

  21. gary Simmons January 20, 2011 at 2:34 pm #

    Rant on Brother. I enjoyed reading it.

    Just another way the government saves us from ourselves.

    Keep up the good writing.


  22. Hannah January 20, 2011 at 2:57 pm #

    I live in Texas.
    Last year in December we got not even a centimeter of snow and the kids in public school got a half day!
    I was thinking, how idiotic!
    I go to a private school and didn’t get the day off.

    Great post. :)

  23. Noelle G. January 20, 2011 at 2:58 pm #

    Couldn’t agree more! I live in Connecticut, and as a New England state, I figured we’d all be used to the ice and snow by now. This, however, is certainly not the case – I’ve had days where they’ve cancelled school the day before a snowstorm was to occur, only to wake up the next morning to light flurries and nothing else. Not that I complained as a high school student, of course!

    I’ve been doing a lot of ranting about this exact issue with all the snow we’ve been getting as of late. Great article!

  24. idiosyncraticeye January 20, 2011 at 3:47 pm #

    It does seem crazy how things just completely shut down in bad weather. :)

  25. makingup3000 January 20, 2011 at 4:27 pm #

    Oh gawsh, I remember if the school bus didn’t come in one hour you got to go home. Meanwhile we froze our butts off outside.
    I saw now…..just take the day off and have fun. Why risk the bad driving, accidents and anything else that can happen. School or work can wait another day…..so stop, relax and enjoy it before it’s gone.

  26. rtcrita January 20, 2011 at 5:15 pm #

    Earlier this week we had 138 accidents in the early morning hours because some idiots around here were not driving properly in severe weather. I’m sure some were, but the weather was bad enough that even if you were driving as best you could, some accidents could not be avoided. By the afternoon, there had been some 500 calls for road assistance, flip-overs, and what-have-you.

    I don’t leave the house on those days — no matter what the school district says. The temp was way below freezing, so the next two days they went ahead and closed the schools so the kids that had to walk to schools wouldn’t freeze. They returned to school on Wednesday. Then, we had a yucky mix of rainy-ice that made a sheet of thin ice on the roads last night (thank God, we made it home right when it got bad) and they were deciding whether to close the schools again this morning. I didn’t wait for their decision. They had already said the roads would be bad this morning. We didn’t go. Sure, it was nice enough by this afternoon, but I’m not chancing it. It just isn’t worth it to me. I would feel horrible if I slid and hit a kid that was walking to school or that was crossing the walkway to get into school while I was trying to stop. And I’m a smart driver who slows down and tries to stop way ahead of my stop. Some things, you just can’t have complete control over–especially in unpredictable circumstances.

  27. Gina Penn January 20, 2011 at 5:59 pm #

    I’m 34 and I don’t remember having nearly the number of snow days that they institute now. Our apartment was about three miles from the school and I walked every day. No bus. Now, on my way to work every day I get stopped behind a school bus that has to pick up a little girl that lives directly across the street from her school! Literally, she gets on the bus and the bus turns left into the parking lot of the school. I doubt she even has time to sit down. Why can’t she cross the street? I guess that’s the litigious age we live in. Pretty soon playgrounds will be too unsafe and kids will be rolled in memory foam before they’re allowed outside. Jeez.

  28. rjneeley January 20, 2011 at 6:50 pm #

    Another Hoosier here — my husband had the same rant this morning. We had a dusting on the ground when they canceled school today — didn’t have 3″ when they’d have been getting off the bus. We were so abused, weren’t we??? I remember getting snowed in during the blizzard, and I remember an ice storm in the 80s, but not many other snow days. Now, the wind blows right and they call it a day!

  29. Jennie P. Martin January 20, 2011 at 9:05 pm #

    I totally agree with your assessment. We don’t have kids but noticed all the schools in our area here in NW AR today. Of course the evening news showed great film of kids who had somehow managed to get out to go sledding. I wonder how they all got to the hill.


    • Moonmooring January 21, 2011 at 12:00 am #

      Same thing here Jennie. I used to live in South Dakota, Minnesota, Michigan. Schools only closed when a blizzard was expected. Here, an inch of snow shuts everything down. I think it’s shame to have this happen we aren’t able to take personal responsibility.

      Congrats to the Freshly Pressed Mary!


  30. thenakedlistener January 20, 2011 at 9:51 pm #

    Oldfart calling! Back in the 1970s when I was still in the United Kingdom, we had some bitterly cold winters. The worst winter was in 1977, which brought maybe 12 inches of snow in London where I was. But not one school (public or private) was cancelled because of bad weather. This was just after the incredible heatwave of July-August 1976, which didn’t cancel school either. Oh, yeah, I went to a private school … and walked.

    Right now, I’m checking into hospital because I’ve come down with bronchitis or pneumonia or something. I live in Hong Kong now, where winters are in the 10-15°C (50-59°F) range – and obviously no snow. In the bitterest winters anywhere around the world, this never happened to me, but it happened in a subtropical country like Hong Kong. Goes to show you can’t really minimise liability when you’re going one-on-one with Mother Nature.

  31. Mary Biever January 20, 2011 at 10:11 pm #

    Wow. Thanks to all for your comments. Freshly Pressed has certainly given me a wild ride today. Appreciate all viewpoints. One thing I realize is I should have clarified the swim practice was non-school related, with parents paying for the time and transporting their kids before school. The snow did arrive.

    And yes, schools are cancelled tomorrow too.

  32. Josh W January 20, 2011 at 11:02 pm #

    I drove more than 60 miles today, and the only thing that was really even slick was a Burger King parking lot. The only thing close to a wreck I saw was a nimrod who ran a red light.

    School officials seem to have changed their ideas regarding school closings even recently. It was rare five years ago to have a snow day declared before 5am the day of. Two hour delays were common. Most schools canceled Friday classes at 5pm today!

    I had a good laugh watching 14 News at 10 earlier tonight. One of their reporters set up camp at USI and asked students if they thought the campus should have closed due to the snow. One male student who lives in the dorms said yes because it was difficult to walk to class. I was awed.

  33. TheEverydayMuser January 21, 2011 at 12:27 am #

    I agree with you. Nowadays people cancel school because of fear. No one thinks for themselves anymore, they’re all following the officials, who themselves don’t think. They are worried about policy, worried that if they don’t follow it, they’ll be the ones out of a job. Despite the hardship it might cause to people, they choose to follow it and cancel school.
    Sometimes, common sense fades away in front of the smartness of these officials. It’s only a matter of time before common sense takes the upper hand again, and we stop following procedure like zombies and start thinking for ourselves again.
    Ashley, aka TheEverydayMuser

  34. Miss O January 21, 2011 at 3:13 am #

    That is just a iight frosting – i can understand if it was a blizzard and the school shut midday but that seems a little ridiculous!!

    Completely agree with working through it – these days people seem to be afraid of coming out of their protective bubbles!

    However the threat of litigation in the states is different to the UK!!

  35. I Made You A Mixtape January 21, 2011 at 3:49 am #

    Here’s one for you- I grew up in Scandinavia… yeah, we get snow… lots of snow… schools are NEVER cancelled… I have walked to school when it has been -30C… my friend who lined in the countryside- skied her way to school through a darkened forest …. kids today- they dont know how good they have it…lol…

  36. christopher copywriter January 21, 2011 at 5:52 am #


    As cold is it is there, it’s as warm here in Sydney!



  37. ldsrr91 January 21, 2011 at 6:15 am #

    Man, talk about hitting the proverbial nail on the head, you nailed it.

    I enjoyed this from start to finish, very well done, good job!

    You brought a little sunshine in to my somewhat dreary day.


  38. mimisworld21 January 21, 2011 at 7:44 am #

    lol great post

  39. beckyyk January 21, 2011 at 9:45 am #

    it’s a tough call!! But it is frustrating when flights get cancelled etc. and then the snow doesn’t come.

  40. shirleymclain930 January 21, 2011 at 9:53 am #

    Hello all, I am an old geeserette and that’s ok. I grew up in rural Oklahoma and got to listen to the stories of, “I walked three miles in the snow, uphill, with only a light coat and I did just fine.” I road a bus everyday, and we closed no days, but there were times I wished they had. It is very traumatizing to a child to feel a bus slip and slid over a ride knowing you could end up in a ditch or worse, a creek.

    I was much more careful with my children. If I couldn’t drive they didn’t go to school. I didn’t care if the school closed or not. If the principle got to the school (he lived 1/2 block away) the school was counted as open. He may only have the town kids there, but it was open. He opened because it was money for the school.

    I feel my saftey and that of my family is more important than being able to brag that I made it and you should to.

  41. gmomj January 21, 2011 at 3:29 pm #

    We lived in Minneapolis for quite a few years.
    School was almost never cancelled even when the wind chill went to -20.

    I am with you Geez!
    Good post!

    What’s wrong with people today scared of a bit of inconvenience.

    Why when I was a child I had to walk to school 5 miles uphill both ways!

    Have a great weekend.

  42. Zach January 22, 2011 at 10:23 am #

    I live in Las Vegas, it snowed 12″ in one day last year and for a city that can’t drive in the first place, having 12″ of snow was a disaster. I will pass on snow. ZW

  43. knit2crochet January 22, 2011 at 12:21 pm #

    I agree. Cancelling school before it snows?? what is Dr. Betram thinking. He make the BIG bucks and the teachers in the trenches doing the best they can are fighting daily to educate children.

    Are we raising a big bunch of WIMPS, employees except employees to be at work snow or not

  44. thumbles January 23, 2011 at 8:25 am #

    Hey, I’m 19 and I share the sentiment. If that makes you an old geezer, is there any hope for the rest of us?
    And I’ve never had a snow day. How sad.

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