APRIL 2019 - SNOW-TIME 1937


I sometimes wonder if I shall I ever find Snow-Time, or the wonder of that single all-too-brief 1937 winter’s day of my boyhood. Steven Hawking says it’s possible and Goodness knows, I’ve written a few hundred thousand words about other men who’ve found the door to yesterday. Why can’t I? It’s raining in Witter Springs. Here, in Northern California, I’m a long way from Michigan and 1937 when I was ten. The world has turned thirty thousand times since then. Those intervening years are buried deeply in the never-ending, ever-falling dust of time. I know this much is true. The last thing I might have thought of, when I was ten, going on eleven, was Black Holes and Science Fiction. Dear Steven Hawking hadn’t even been born… and just a little while ago, after shaking up the universe with his theories of alternate realities, time dilation and the like, he left us flat, mourning his passing and wondering what he might have thought of next. I’m still here. I really don’t know why, except for, possibly, genetics, and my driving need to tell my stories and do what I must do to leave this small blue world a better place, as Hawking did, and so many others persons greater and far better known than I. I think Mr. Hawking knew more about Time’s secrets than he let on. Maybe I’ve learned a few as well. When I look back at myself at ten, and a relive that special day in 1937, memories so crystal clear and true, they might have happened yesterday, I couldn’t be much closer to having a Time Machine of my own. It had been snowing on and off all January. It snowed that night, and the day and night before. Only with the morning light did the falling snow give ground and end at last. Before the storm had hurried on its way, it left a parting gift; a world of white roof-tops, snowy fields and every other thing I saw, covered in rainbow-colored diamond dust. When I awoke at five o’clock, the air outside my covers, was colder than a tomb. I poked my head out, tempted to stay right where I was despite my morning chores and my Sunday Paper Route. Rising from my bed, and once in my clothes, I scratched away the frosty flower crystals on the window pane with my finger nail. Clearing a spot, with the heel of my hand, I peered outside. The white I saw that winter morning, made me catch my breath. Finishing my bowl of oatmeal and my Mother’s home-made bread, with a hurried goodbye, I left the table to ride my Paper Route. My bike was waiting for me in the garage. My Bike and I were friends. Like a faithful horse, it carried me wherever I wished to go. The black, balloon-tired, second-hand bicycle helped me earn the seven or eight dollars I made each week. Newspapers on Sunday were always twice as heavy as any other day, even Thursday’s paper, which had lots of classified advertising. Nearly an inch in thickness, Sunday’s paper had a dozen Sunday Comics; the Katzenjammer Kids, Flash Gordon fighting Lord Mongo, and Blondie and Dagwood. Each and all did their part to add the extra pages, along with want-ads, a large theater and Movie section, and the Detroit Tiger’s baseball news. That totality made the Sunday paper weigh a ton. My customers were scattered over several miles of gravel roads. Riding my bike on the icy roads was like working for the circus in the high wire act. I balanced the fifty pounds of papers on my handle bars, and somehow managed to keep my balance on the icebound snow covered road. Now, on this cold winter morning, with lots of snow and ice, my job was harder than it had ever been before. Wheeling that heavy weight over two icy miles to my fifty customers, and with the roads as slick as glass, it was a challenge. On such a morning, riding my balloon-tired, second-hand, Monarch bike on the slippery roads, with a load of newspapers in my bicycle basket on the handle bars, was tricky work. Finishing my Route at last, I put away my bike and counted out my money. Afterward my brothers and I built snow forts, had snow fights with the neighbor boys and sailed down the road on a sled with an empty mattress box for a sail. There were other Snow-Times, when I was young, but none were quite the same as that special Winters day, when I was a boy in Michigan. As time passed, I left my childhood far behind. The years marked their time, I moved away from winter snows for warmer climes and other grown-up games to play. We boys went off to war, our girls got married, and my mother and my father grew older. I had a million other adventures wonderful and important. Still, of all those memories and experiences, there was never again a time in my life that could compare to one particular Snow-Time in 1937.

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