Missing the Northeast: Snow days

I’ll admit. This month’s column is more about missing my childhood than it is necessarily about missing the Northeast. Fortunately, I happened to have spent my whole childhood in Philadelphia. So, hey, it all works out.

When the snow came down last week and I was busy shoveling my New Jersey driveway for about the 400th time this winter, I started reminiscing about what snowfall used to mean when I was growing up.

Childhood Snow Day = Cartoons + Video Games

Just about everybody wishes they could have at least a few moments as a kid again, wishing for the feeling that they can do whatever they want with little to no responsibility put upon them.

To all adults involved, the blizzard of 1996 was probably pretty terrible. They probably had to figure out how to dig their cars out and how to pick up last-ditch groceries from the Shop ‘n Bag around the corner.

I, on the other hand, as well as most kids at the time, felt like the snow-filled world was my homework-less oyster. I could play as much Sega Genesis and watch as many cartoons as I wanted.

And the great part about being a kid, or more so a person who doesn’t have to worry about digging his or her car out, is that shoveling duties fall mainly on the parents. The most responsibility I had was aimlessly pushing around a small shovel until my hands felt slightly cold and then going in the house and drinking as much hot chocolate as I pleased.

Adult Snow Day = The Worst

Things are much different for me and, I assume, others my age, when the snow comes down nowadays.

It doesn’t matter how cold my fingers get; I have to get my car out no matter what and remove snow from the sidewalk a certain amount of time after the downfall — a regulation I never even cared to know existed when I was a kid.

When the first big snowfall came down after Christmas, I had the lovely fortune of helping my dad shovel in the Northeast in the morning, shoveling out my girlfriend’s place up in North Jersey later that night and then shoveling out my own apartment the next morning.

And nowadays, with technology the way it is (for better or worse), snow days don’t exist. Therefore, I, once again, have the lovely fortune of having to work from home while also finding time to shovel.

Snow in the Northeast

The one thing I like about the Northeast is that, for the most part, roads tend to get plowed. Now, I was lucky enough to grow up on a street that happens to be a major route to a hospital and relatively close to both Route 1 and I-95, so clear roads was never really too much of a problem.

And since so many of the houses in Philadelphia are row houses and, therefore, so close together, there isn’t all that much to shovel. Oh how the Northeast Philly tally continues to increase!

Missing the Northeast is a column written by Stephen Wilson, a former Northeast resident who moved to New Jersey for work. You can read his column on the last Monday of every month.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.