Snow days make winter a little easier

As I write snow is falling and the wind is blowing. It’s a snow day a day off that means more work tomorrow.

For most of my career I never experienced snow days as in a day off. At the radio station it was important for the sign-on and news guy to get the station on the air and handle school closings and related announcements.

My work car was a ’54 Ford with a six-cylinder engine and manual transmission. I put oversize studded snow tires on the back wheels and threw 100 pounds of oyster shell in the truck. A lower radiator hose heater ensured a quick start on a cold winter morning.

That car was as good as a four-wheel drive in the snow. At 5 a.m. I could plow through drifts on my way to the police and fire stations to pick up overnight news and then drive up a steep hill to the parking lot behind the radio station.

On a few particularly nasty blizzard mornings, a local police officer picked me up on a snowmobile to ensure the radio station got on the air.

Obviously, there is no such thing as a snow day in the radio business.

Working for a daily newspaper was similar. We lived on a quiet side street in Sioux City and on several occasions it took more than a day for the street department to plow it open. The worst case was when it took four-days to open our street. On most of those occasions I walked to a nearby arterial street and caught a ride with a co-worker.

On two occasions, however, the blizzard was so bad I had to hire a couple with snowmobiles to transport my assistant and me to the Sioux City Journal office. There were things that had to be done and since most of the staff couldn’t get to work it was the manager’s job to get it done.

In Creston we lived just a mile from the office. That and the slightly more mild southern Iowa winters allowed me to get to the News Advertiser plant every day, even on snowy days.

When we moved to Creston from Sioux City I took along my heavy duty two-stage snow blower. Such a snow blower was necessary in northwest Iowa but couple of my Creston neighbors teased about overkill. The teasing stopped when, after a major storm, the snow plows piled the icy snow at the ends of their driveways so deep their puny little snow blowers were useless. My monster Sioux City snow blower gained new respect as it chewed through the ice and snow with ease.

When we left Creston in 2000 I still had not experienced a snow day since my school days.

The office-closing policy at my new employer at that time was simple: if Des Moines schools were closed our office was closed. Several of our employees had a significant commute and this policy made sense.

I recall it was my second year there when a blizzard blew through and our office was closed. It felt good to sit in my chair and watch the blowing snow through the windows of the patio doors.

Since then I have been able to handle snow and ice a little better. During my years at the Creston News Advertiser I felt responsibility for the safety of some 40 employees, more than 100 young newspaper carriers and a half dozen motor route drivers. And, of course, we wanted to get the newspapers delivered to our subscribers. Snow storms and blizzards were a giant pain in the rear.

I recall stomping into the house after a long day of winter frustration and swearing that our next move was going to be to Arizona. I have learned that blizzards aren’t quite so miserable when not burdened with responsibility for others.

Still, I am no fan of snow. Some people romanticize snow. Someone said, “Snowflakes are kisses from heaven.” Another person said, “Snowmen fall from heaven… unassembled.” Alexander Selkirk wrote, “Whenever a snowflake leaves the sky, it turns and turns to say ‘good-bye.'”

Baloney! I look at snow in the same way Carl Reinter does. He wrote, “A lot of people like snow. I find it to be an unnecessary freezing of water.”