This year’s wild winter weather has brought back some fun memories of my childhood. I was born in the 1970s and a consider myself a “child of the 1980s.”
There were some cold and snowy winters back in those days, and my brothers and I always loved a good snow storm. It opened up so many more options for us. The Palmer boys were fort builders, so we spent hours and hours building elaborate snow tunnels, caves and forts. The more the snow, the bigger the forts.
But building forts wasn’t the biggest reason why we loved a good snow storm. If the weather was bad enough, the school would close. And that meant a snow day! It wasn’t that we hated school. I think we all liked school. But we loved a snow day.
Our snow days always started out the same. If bad weather was in the forecast, we would wake up earlier and crawl in our parents’ bed. We would turn their radio to WCCO and crank it up. Then we would sit or lay there and listen for the school closings, brought to us by Roger Erickson.
“Sartell, public and parochial”
“Sauk Centre. These are all closed.”
I lived and attended school in Stewart, Minnesota, which is located about 15 miles south of Hutchinson. When Roger got to the S’s, we sat up straight, and our ears perked up.
“Savage, public and parochial.”
“Shakopee, two hours late.”
“Shoreview. Change. Now closed.”
There are only a few radio voices from my childhood that are ingrained in my brain, and Roger Erickson’s is one of them. Others include Herb Carneal/John Gordon for their Twins broadcasts. Roger Erickson’s school closing announcements were a thing of beauty. He was clear, consistent and smooth. And he would get into a rhythm that almost hypnotized you.
“Silver Lake, two hours late, no morning kindergarten.”
“Slayton. These are all closed. All closed.”
“Spring Grove, now closed.”
If our school was two hours late, this ritual could last for hours, depending on how early we got up that morning. Sometimes we would bring a bowl of cereal in our parents’ bedroom. And sometimes we would start getting our snow pants on if it looked like it was inevitable that our school was going to close.
“Spring Lake Park. Two hours late. All evening activities cancelled.”
Now it was really close. Just a few more cities away. The two cities on each side of Stewart were Brownton and Buffalo Lake, so if we started listening in the “B’s,” we had a good idea what was coming.
“Staples, now closed. These are all closed.”
“Stewart……..ville. Stewartville closed.”
What? No! Did they just say Stewartville and not Stewart?!
For everyone who grew up in Stewart, we all were well aware of Stewartville. And there were many times that we went through a rollercoaster of emotion because of Stewartville. I’m sure the people from Maple Grove, Maple Lake, Maple Plain, Mapleton, Mapleview, and Maplewood had it worse than us.
This year, our boys have had more snow days than they have had in the last three to four years combined. Unfortunately, they haven’t been able to enjoy the snow as much as I did, as most of these snow days were because of cold weather. Maybe they will get more opportunity in the month of March, traditionally the snowiest month of the year.
There is one part of the snow day experience that is gone today. While radio stations still make weather announcements, I haven’t had to listen to the radio for a cancellation for many years. Just about every school now notifies families of a delayed start or a close with a phone message to their cell phone. Or you jump on the Internet and see a listing of all the closed schools. So the building anticipation of listening to a radio announcer list off a bunch of schools is gone. The excitement now comes when my phone rings.
If you remember the school closings of Roger Erickson and want to listen to them again, visit our website and look for this column. I found a link to a great video of Roger in action and have included it on our website.