Ken Trainor’s hilarious blog [Feb. 27] on the cult of shoveling snow (…the car is driving itself…ha!) reminded me of similar bad old days, when someone had to put on the mittens and the scarf and the boots and the jacket and freeze until expending so much energy that he would sweat under his layers … and shovel.
I’d like to do as Ken said and publicly bestow some honors and thanks to One Who Shovels Responsibly. I have a nominee for the “Snowblower Hall of Fame.” Thank you, Fred Wunder.
My poor father. All those years before my brother and I took turns shoveling, the poor soul would have to start at the alley and work alllllllll the way to Wenonah, turn left and go allllllll the way to the Sharkey’s house. Like Ken’s, our house was on the corner too. Then there was the walk to the front door and the little sidewalk in the back yard that went allllll the way from the steps (don’t forget the blasted steps-front and back) to the garage, around the garage and to the alley. And there was also that “apron” dealie going into the garage from the alley.
I’d watch him through the dining room window out there plugging away. He wore a hat with earflaps, the plaid flannel shirt, a sweater, a winter jacket, etc. and you just knew he was cursing. Didn’t hear him, but you knew he wasn’t whistlin’ while he worked.
One year, he bought an alleged labor-saving device. It was a plow-ish thing with rubber wheels and a rope that you pulled to lift the diagonally-mounted shovel part up to dump the snow. It didn’t work very well, I seem to remember, because he went back to using the regular shovel. The plow thing stayed propped up against the wall in the basement for a couple of decades.
Fortunately for Dad, his kids got bigger and he could assign them tasks like painting the white picket fence that went allllll the way around the yard, raking leaves, and shoveling the snow. He still climbed up the ladder to clean out the gutters of leaves and sticks and crud, but we grudgingly handled the ground-level chores … OK, I’ll admit that my brother wasn’t terribly dependable when it came to mowing … and I was afraid of the lawn mower (big, noisy orange thing).
So let me be the one to say a big thank you to my dad for all he did to make the corner of Wenonah and Adams safe for PEDS X-ing. I also want to thank him for mowing, raking and attempting to help me with algebra.
As for Dad’s part, I know what he’s thankful for-packing up back in the ’80s and moving to Florida.
Editor’s note: Barbara grew up during the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s, the snowiest decades in Oak Park in the 20th century. If you would like to nominate a “Good Samaritan” shoveler/snowblower from this past inglorious winter, nominations are being accepted at firstname.lastname@example.org or at WednesdayJournalOnline.com reader comments.