Scratchy AM

“I’m going to tell Mom what you’re doing,” Molly whispered from behind the screen door.  It was freezing cold and Brother Mike and I were in our pajamas on the porch.  Each of us was holding a milk bottle and licking the column of cream that had forced its way out of the top of the bottle.  After licking the cream up, the paper cap would be replaced to cover our larceny, Molly was no help.

Smith Brothers Dairy is as old as the hills and delivered its milk products from house to house.  Each family had a metal carrier with a handle over the top that carried six bottles.  It was so cold, down in the 20’s that the milk in the bottle froze and forced a column of cream out the top carrying the round paper cap with it.  Mom always saved the cream for Dad’s coffee or one of her cooking projects. Molly squealed and Mike and I were grounded again.
Now a little more description of the stack of cream from frozen milk… it towered a few inches above with the cardboard seal on top… We licked the seal, before we put it back… Hoping mom would never notice.  Ha! She always saw lick marks and knew what was going on because we stealthily only licked half of the bottles… in order to cleverly conceal our surreptitious theft.

Bank Road Pond was what we called it in the “old days” and that was where we skated when the weather got cold enough.  The ice was thinnest near the edge of the pond and that’s where I fell through.  Our feet were changing size so fast that we bought “new skates” from Good Will every year.  They had bins and bins of them.  The fires we had were formidable and built from a pile of cedar fence posts that had rotted out and were of no more use.

It got so cold that year that the ice froze at Portage so hard that the deer could be seen walking on it.  There was a blizzard after an unusually warm November…Big snow started in January and waves of cold came down from the Frazier River.  The worst part of winter ended sometime in February.

That year the winds blew from the north.  It got so cold we actually tried the “sticking your tongue to the flagpole” trick except it was the metal railing at school.  Poor Kit Bradley was squealing horribly until the teacher came out with a glass of water to release Kit’s tongue from the hand rail.  We all got in trouble “cause we wouldn’t fess up to “whodunnnit.”   Mom made us put newspapers in our boots to help dry them inside.  Mittens froze on your hands!  It was so cold the snowballs were flakey and soft and would not stick together… powder… funny that a tongue would stick to a steel railing but snow would not form a ball… until the class bully poured water on a snowball and made it so hard it knocked a kid senseless.

As reported by David Church, we had snow four feet deep during the winter of 1949-50 and the schools were closed for three weeks.  The temperatures at night plunged to 8-10 degrees.  When the thaw came, the road going west past the old telephone building disappeared in a trench that was 10 feet deep and 16 feet wide…caused by heavy runoff from a Chinook wind that took all the snow away.  Engel’s tow truck pulled the school buses through a mud hole in Vashon highway between the old telephone building and center.

Bradleys lived next door to us at Cove and they had a field above their rickety old house that was flat and covered with virgin snow.  We stomped out a giant wheel with many paths to the center where we played “Fox and Goose,” a game of tag in the snow.
A blizzard excited us while we listened in the early morning to “scratchy-AM radio,” KOMO or KIRO for news of which schools would be closed.  We cheered when Vashon schools were reported closed.  When the busses did run, I remember my teacher getting to school early to make hot chocolate for us all and the dissipating smell of twenty-mittens times two and overused double socks and soggy boots as they were placed on radiators to dry.

After the blizzard, we turned back to listening to AM radio after school to “The Lone Ranger,” “The Green Hornet,” or other programs as we waited for the first green of spring.