January 18, 1977

Alright!  For the past several months, I’ve been hearing all you people to the north of me complain about your snow.  Well, I just want you to know that just because I’m here in Florida where it’s been a steady 90+ degrees these past few weeks doesn’t mean I’m oblivious to your plight.  For today’s Throwback Thursday, I will share with you the story of the first time I ever saw (and fell in love with) snow.

I was a sheltered kid.  My grandparents raised me.  My grandma didn’t drive, and my grandfather suffered from a deep depression after he retired so he slept most of the time.  As such, I didn’t get to go anywhere very often.  Furthermore, I never even left the state of Florida until I was thirteen years old!

However, shortly after I turned seven, I vividly remember being woken up in what seemed like the middle of the night.  My granddaddy shook me awake and told me to put on my pajama bottoms, my slippers, and my robe so I could go outside and see a surprise.  While I did indeed love surprises, I also loved my sleep, and I didn’t want to get out of bed!  I whined a bit while Grandma found my clothes, then we went outside in the dark to find Granddaddy standing by the car with his camera.

Surprise!  It had snowed here in Central Florida!  It was so exciting, I was literally speechless.  I remember thinking – This is a lot colder than I ever imagined it would be.  I wanted to play in it right then, but that’s when they burst my bubble and told me that it was still nighttime and I’d have to go back to bed.  They only woke me in case it melted before I woke up.

I was crushed.  I wanted so badly to build a snowman and make snow angels and throw snowballs.  (I had no idea that we didn’t have nearly enough snow for all that fun.)  When I got back to bed, I couldn’t sleep.  I was certain that if I fell asleep, all that beautiful, white goodness would be gone when I woke.

Surprise!  When I woke up, it was still there!  We took more pictures by the car, and Grandma didn’t even wear shoes!  (She loved the cold just like I do now…  However at the time, I was freezing and I have no idea why she didn’t make me put on a coat!)  Even my dog, Duchess, got to join in the fun.  I figured I could stay home and play in it, but my grandparents made me go to school.  (Nope, we don’t get snow days here in Florida, even on the rare occasions we do get snow.)

However, when I got to school, my disappointment soon faded when I learned that we were immediately taking an unplanned fieldtrip to the nearest overpass.  We took the kindergarteners’ blue and red vinyl nap mats, and we parked at the bottom.  Then we all climbed up the side of the overpass, and we slid down the snowy cement on the mats.  (For those of you wondering why, we don’t have hills here in Florida, either.)  We “sledded” down the side of that overpass for hours!

It was lunchtime before we had to go back to school, and by then, the snow started to melt.  By the time school let out, when I got outside, there was no evidence at all that it had been a day unlike any other here in the Sunshine State.  I was sad that we didn’t have any more snow, but it had been a great day.

So imagine my surprise when I got home and Granddaddy had indeed built me a snowman with the snow he could scrape off the car.  He only had enough for the body, and he had to pick an orange off one of our trees for the head.  He used the lid to my favorite clown cup for the hat, and his own real pipe (that he didn’t smoke, but was a gift from someone in the Japanese government when he was there for the reconstruction).  Sure, it was small, but sure enough, I had my own personal Frosty the Snowman there to greet me when I got home!  And after I saw him, Grandma recycled his body and mixed him with sugar to make me a homemade snow cone served in a cup with no actual cone.  (As a kid, I thought it was so delicious… As an adult, I think it was SO gross that she fed me snow that had been scraped off a dirty car!  Ewww!)

But all in all, I think waking me up in the middle of the night so I didn’t miss the snow was one of the coolest things my grandparents ever did for me.  And that was indeed one of the best and most memorable days of my childhood.

(As an addendum, I’ve seen snow here in Central Florida three other times that I can think of since then, however, each of those times, it melted as soon as it touched the ground.  I’ve never again seen it stick like that around here.  So perhaps now you can appreciate why when I moved to New York for a few years, I absolutely loved the snow and still do.)

Let’s talk:  Have you ever sledded down the side of an overpass on a nap mat?  Did your parents ever wake you up in the middle of the night to see something?  Do you remember the first time you saw snow?  Would you ever ingest anything that was scraped off a car and could not first be washed?

26 thoughts on “January 18, 1977

  1. My parents never woke me up, but they did let me stay up reading books one night. I was about five years old, and they thought it was hilarious that I had announced that I was going to stay up and read.

  2. That’s such a cool story and also cool that your school let you snow down the over pass. For all the snow in N.Y. don’t think I ever went sledding, or anything close. As for the dirty snow, no way, but I have seen my daughter lick rain off of cars. (Yes, you are reading correctly!)

  3. You were such an adorable kid! 🙂 It’s been snowing here since early this morning. It’s now evening and it hasn’t stopped. Gotta admit–I’m over it. Bring on the sun and warmth. 🙂

  4. This is a great Throwback, Rachel. I can’t believe how much snow you had so much snow in Central Florida! I think it was wonderful of your grandparents to wake you up to make sure you saw it. And you sure were cute in the snow, Florida kiddo. 😉 At SUNY Morrisville here upstate, we crazy teens would slide down a hill outside the dining hall on meal trays. That was a blast in the snow.

      • We were crazy college kids. Some slid down that hill in the mud, too, right into the pond! (Not me on that one. Yucko!) … Yes, as little kids, we would have built a snow fort on the lawn, and rode our sleds down the hill in front of my house in Stony Brook. You would have loved our street. It was a great sledding hill in the winter and biking hill in the summer, and we had woods in the backyard to explore all the time, Rachel.

  5. It’s so cool that you still have photos, and what a memorable day for you! I love the little snowman that your grandparents woke you and made that snowman for you. When I was a little girl in Dallas, we sometimes got a bit of snow–and my little sister and I were always so excited.
    Right after we got married, my in-laws moved to Erie, PA.–where they had more than enough snow. While visiting there–Christmas, I guess?–it started to snow in the middle of the night. Everyone else was sleeping, but I went for a walk with my brother-in-law. It was silent and beautiful, and kind of magical.

  6. I’ve always lived in the north or primarily north and naively thought it never snowed in the southern region but since the past year or two hearing about snow in the south, such as Georgia, I now believe it. It must be exciting to see snow. And I guess when one lives in warmer climates they appreciate when things like this happen 🙂

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