I was in the sixth grade in January of 1951 when the first heavy snowfall of the season blanketed the earth. It was the perfect type of snow for making snowballs and snowmen.

At the afternoon recess on the day of the snowfall, some of the guys (including myself) scooped snow into piles and rolled the snow into huge balls that left uncovered paths on the ground.

It wasn’t long before almost every boy began rolling snow and competing with other boys to see who could roll the largest snowballs.

The idea of rolling snowballs to throw at girls to hear them scream was out of the question, because if a guy was caught throwing a snowball, he was sent to the principal, and he would receive a three-day suspension and would have to be brought back to school by his parents,

He would also receive F grades in all work missed during his absence.

Since snowballs were out, someone suggested that all of the snowballs should be rolled together in a large circle to form a gigantic snowman.

As soon as this was done, some of the taller and stronger boys formed a line and passed the giant snow boulders hand-to-hand upward where they were plopped down on top of each other with a heavy thud and then smoothed and patted into place.

Even the 6-foot-5 school custodian came out and helped for a few minutes. With his height and muscle, the lifting process was expedited. Unfortunately, we were not able to finish the job because the school bell rang, which signified the end of recess. There were many sounds of protest because it meant that we would have to return to our books and receive assignments from our teacher.

We felt all the hard work we put into making the snowman was now wasted.

As we moped, our principal came out of the building and stared at the unfinished snowman. Then he looked at us — with our tired and sweaty faces — looking back at him. Our principal was very strict and was usually an unsmiling man, so we figured he would tell us to take down the snowman.

Much to our surprise, though, our principal was grinning from ear to ear, and he said that since it appeared we were having such a great time, he would dismiss classes for the last hour of the school day and then told us to continue working on the snowman.

We all returned to the task of completing the snowman, and because school had been dismissed, some of the teachers — including my teacher — came out to help.

Strangely enough, even though school was over for the day, nobody went home until the snowman’s head was crowned with a knit cap, donated by my pal George, and coal for the eyes and a stick for its nose donated by our custodian.

It is a day I will never forget, first of all because it was so much fun helping to build the snowman, and secondly, because we missed the last hour of school, our teacher was not able to give us homework assignments.

Join the discussion on social media!