Recent snowfalls in Mister Boomer’s current neighborhood triggered his Wayback Machine to the winters of his boomer youth. Several snowfalls over the course of a week have produced different types of snow as conditions and temperatures changed. Mister B recalled that, as boomers, we were snow connoisseurs. It’s well documented that our generation spent a lot of time outdoors, regardless of weather. This included the winter; dress in layers and head out into the elements for hours at a time. After a step off the front porch, boomers could tell what type of snow was falling. This was important because it could dictate the type of play that was about to transpire. Mister B recalls three basic types of snow, though combinations of the three were possible:
1. Wet snow: The heaviest of the snowfalls due to the water content; when temperatures and moisture in the air were just right, wet snow blanketed the neighborhood. The snowflakes could be large and snow depths often amounted to four or more inches. For a good number of boomers, especially the boys, this was the favored type because it packed well. Play in wet snow could then be centered around building snowmen and snow forts, that would be put to good use in snowball fights. Warm gloves were essential, and, if not made of water resistant material, double gloves became a necessity. Occasional trips back inside for a quick warm-up and change of socks and gloves might be in order. Sledding, though possible, was not ideal in this type of snow as the sled’s runners could bog down, especially if the snow fell quickly and resulted in deeper snow depths. It was, however, the best snow for making some money, as homeowners could have struggles with the weight of shoveling.
2. Icy snow: When snow and ice crystals mixed, with the proportions leaning toward the icy, the snow that stuck on the ground was slick and solid. This surface made for good sledding, as boomers’ sleds and saucers could glide down a hill with less friction. These icy properties made it a terrible choice for snowball fights, though some masochists among us (you know who you are) took great delight in blasting the sides of faces with hard-packed ice balls. These boomers could be seen coaxing a snowball over time, like a sculptor shaping clay, far beyond the scoop-pack-throw immediacy of the typical snowball fight. In their private game, extra points were earned if the targeted kid’s face produced a red spot, or chunks of icy crystals remained behind a pair of glasses. Boomers in Mister B’s neighborhood avoided asking for snow removal jobs in this type of snow, because it often involved lots of ice chopping to reveal the sidewalk below.
3. Powdery snow: When humidity levels are low and the air is dry but cold, a powdery snow falls. This type of snow was impossible to pack, like grabbing a handful of granulated sugar. Ergo, it was a terrible choice for making snowmen or snowballs. Nonetheless, intrepid snow bullies would attempt to get a handful down a boomer’s back, delivering their payload by pulling open the space between the scarf and the coat. The powdery surface made it decent for sledding, but the ideal play mode for powdery snow was for making snow angels. It was terrible for trying to earn money while shoveling, because it was light enough to be removed by homeowners with a broom.
At any given time, a combination of the three might occur, but boomers knew their snow and what they could do with it. Do you recall shifting your play priorities based on the type of snow that fell, boomers?