Where the Snowballs Once Flew (ms)

Our friend continued his tour heading away from the remnants of Main Street and the thoughts of how it once was more decades ago than he wanted to think about or admit to.

Two blocks of casual walking brought him to a nearly vacant lot. A small building was the only structure on it but once, once it was home to something quite important — the grade school he attended in the prime years off his kid-hood.

There weren’t particular memories of greatness attached to that time. He and his classmates showed up each morning to get their daily dose of reading, writing and arithmetic, the Three R’s as they were known back then. There were long days of such stuff with whatever else his teachers could think of throwing at the group of largely uninspired kids. Thank goodness there was recess.

The man’s thoughts turned to those happy times spent carousing about the play area burning off the excess energy only young people seem able to store up. Oh, recess was such a very good time even in winter.

Snowball battles were the order of the day then. The man whose tour we’re secretly part of was never really a very productive maker of snowballs but the quality of his ammunition was legendary. When lobbed toward the opposing army by a designated thrower his creations traveled with unerring accuracy. They seldom failed to cover an opponent in a thick dusting of snow while covering his own team with the glory and honor deemed appropriate for a group of winners. He and his small group of comrades basked in the glow of it for the rest of the day. It would be simpler today, he thought, with the “tools” available to youngsters of this century.

Was it not just the other day that he saw a snowball making device in a catalog! It looked like two long- handled plastic ice cream scoops joined face-to-face on a swivel so that when the operator filled each scoop with snow and jammed them together there would be a perfect snowball. He guessed it would take about as long to make a snowball using such a device as it would for him using only his two hands, in his prime of course. The man thought it remarkable.

With a gadget like that, he had concluded, the challenge was taken away. One need only have the strength to move the handles and that was it. No thought of how or why the snow compacted, no conclusion that there were better snows for ball making, that a nearly perfect sphere could be had by merely turning a handful of snow a few times! It was simple. Why, once you got going you were like a machine: grab a fistfull, spin it between your hands, just a few turns and then it was ready to go. Ah, those were the days. His talents were highly sought and lucky was the team that had his services or at least it seemed so to him.

No more. Now there are gadgets we buy so we needn’t think even about something as simple as making a snowball. He turned and walked away from the place where the screams and laughter of children at play once rolled out to the neighborhood and beyond. He did not bother to look back.

–Mike Stevens

~ by admin on December 27, 2010.

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