Metro-East Living

Where have all the snow shovels gone?

I waited for a knock on the front door. Or the doorbell. Or to hear the distinct, scraping sound of a snow shovel on a nearby driveway.

I waited.

And waited.

Finally, without options, I did it myself.

Last Sunday morning, like you, I woke up to around 7 inches of snow in my Belleville neighborhood.

So ready for spring! Surely, I hoped, some eager youth would come by my house and ask to shovel my driveway and sidewalk to earn some quick cash.

No such luck.

Some lucky guys in the neighborhood had a chance to show off their snow blowers. I was jealous but happy for them. I would have been even happier if I had one myself.

So my daughter and I shoveled our driveway. Good exercise. No big deal.

It was a light, fluffy snow. In my mind, as we shoveled, scraped and swept, I still thought a group of eager youths would arrive on the scene and ask if they could take over and I’d gladly give them $20.

Hope is a good thing, you know.

We were done shoveling in about an hour.

I am glad I don’t live in Boston.

Bring on daylight-saving time!

Who will bat leadoff for the Cardinals?

Could it snow on the St. Pat’s Day Parade?

And I pondered: I live in this worn-out, ideal 1969-forever world in which youth is youth, no matter their generation. And in my world, a snowstorm Saturday night presents an opportunity on Sunday morning to shovel a few driveways and make a few quick bucks.

I told the stories again last Sunday. We’d wake up early to beat the other neighborhood kids to the neighbors’ driveway. Sometimes, we didn’t even ask a neighbor for permission. We’d just shovel his driveway and hope he came through with a few bucks, and he usually did.

We’d dress in layers and layers, wearing sweatsocks as gloves, and a dirty T-shirt as a scarf.

We’d rush to finish every driveway so we could be back home to get redressed for Mass, then back home in time for sled riding. On Sundays, if we were lucky, Dad might tie the sled to the back of his station wagon with a rope and lead us throughout the neighborhood. It was as fun as it was unsafe. But we didn’t worry much about safety. Maybe that’s why so few accidents happened. We just never thought about the rope breaking.

Maybe we’re smarter today. More informed. Worry more. We realize there are too many risks to kids being spontaneous and shoveling a neighbor’s driveway.

Think about it. A kid could get injured shoveling snow off your driveway. Slip and fall. Or maybe throw out his back. On your property.

It’s also bitterly cold outdoors. If it’s too cold to go to school, then it’s too cold to shovel someone else’s driveway on a Sunday morning?

Or maybe $20 isn’t worth their time and energy nowadays. They’re pressed for time. Practices. Camps. Special study groups. Dance. Music. Select travel leagues. Go. Go. Go. That’s all fine. It’s not their fault. It’s the world we have given them.

We didn’t have anything else to do but shovel driveways, really.

And I was OK shoveling my own driveway last weekend. It was a light, feathery snow. I took a good nap that afternoon while watching golf on TV.

I hope it was our last snow of the season. But next snow, I’ll probably wait for a knock on the door. Or my doorbell. Or hear the distinct, scraping sound of a snow shovel on my driveway. Again.

Somewhere, in my mind, there’s a kid in the neighborhood who wants to make a few quick dollars by shoveling driveways.

Wearing sweatsocks as gloves.

And a dirty T-shirt as a scarf.

Hope. It is a good thing. When it’s always Winter 1969. In my mind.

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