Just as we’re wondering whether climate change will preclude our ever having a snowstorm like those during the old days, we get clobbered.

It is Tuesday as I write this and road crews are clearing school parking lots, digging buses out from under more than 2 feet of snow.

Now, this is a real Maine winter.

When I was 12 and 13 during the storms of 1968-69, we got a whole week off from school because we got so much snow. I remember it creeping to the top of our dining room windows — so high we couldn’t see out. My horse escaped from the barn and got trapped between two cars coming down our rural Skowhegan road in opposite directions. The road was so narrow there was only one travel lane.

Those were the good old days, when worrying about how many days we’d have to go to school into June because of using up snow days wasn’t even on our minds. We were just darned glad to wake up in the morning and hear there was no school.

We bundled up in layers — wool pants and coats, hand-knit hats and mittens, black rubber boots that buckled over our shoes — and headed out into the cold and blowing wind. We dug holes in the snowbanks and created a maze of tunnels throughout the field, complete with occasional “foxholes,” or round openings in the tunnel ceilings where we could stand up to rest our backs from crawling and get some air. Only our heads and shoulders were visible to passers-by, and I imagine they wondered how we got out in the middle of the field without leaving any tracks.

We built snow forts, threw snowballs at cars — a terrible practice, in retrospect — jumped off barn roofs and made snow angels by plunking ourselves down and swiping the snow with our arms and legs.

I think of those days whenever I see a modern-day TV weather forecaster, standing in an 8-inch snowbank, dressed in an L.L. Bean parka with a hood, expounding on the magnitude of snowflakes coming down and making predictions of what is to come.

I chuckle. I thought of those television forecasters yesterday as the snow swirled around in drifts, coming down so fast the plow truck drivers couldn’t keep up with it. I slogged through snowbanks up to my waist, scrambling to take photos.

It was delightful, really, and took me back to the ’60s, when the snow was the best recreation we could find. We skied, went tobogganing and sledding on the hill near our house, shoveled off ponds and skated into the night. We built bonfires to cook hot dogs and thaw our frozen toes and fingers. There were no computers, cellphones, tablets and other digital contraptions. We didn’t sit around on the couch and watch TV when it snowed — we were out in it like rabid dogs, climbing and jumping and flying around until we fell exhausted into bed at night.

As I was about to leave the office late Monday afternoon to drive the mile or so home, my husband called to tell me not to bother because our street in Waterville had not yet been plowed, vehicles were getting stuck and, even if I did make it home, I’d not make it into the driveway, which was full of snow. He said he’d call whenever the plow arrived.

An hour later, he said to come on home. I could at least get to the driveway, if not into it. I arrived, hauled my shovel out of the back seat and started shoveling snowbanks that were so high I knew it would be quite some time before I could clear space for my car. After a few moments, our plow driver arrived.

“Sorry I didn’t come earlier,” he said. “I couldn’t see anything.”

And so was the storm of Feb. 13 that ruined many people’s Valentine’s Day because most shops couldn’t deliver flowers, restaurants were closed — just about everything was buttoned up tight — and there was nowhere to go but home.

The next day as I called school superintendents to interview them about snow days and how they find creative ways to make them up, I was reminded once more about the snowstorms of my youth.

Eric Haley, superintendent of the Waterville-based Alternative Organizational Structure 92 school district, reminded me of that winter of ’68-69, saying he, as a 14-year-old high school freshman in Dexter, also got a week off from school because of a series of storms.

The roads in his town were so full of impassable snow that he and his brothers drove a snowmobile to the store to buy groceries not only for their family, but for all of the neighbors as well. He recalled his mother directing him and his brothers to crawl up on the snowbanks to clear the house windows of snow because she couldn’t see out of them.

“I remember shoveling out the front door of the house and it was a tunnel,” Haley said. “Some people were going out their second-story windows. And I remember the snowbanks on the sides of the road being so high that my parents worried about all four of us children and warned us repeatedly about not touching the lines on the poles because we could get electrocuted. Thank God the lowest line was the telephone line, or I would have been zapped a few times over.”

Now that’s something to reminisce about. I laughed out loud, thinking these weather experts today have nothing on us — and the memories of our winter of ’68-69.

Amy Calder has been a Morning Sentinel reporter for 29 years. Her column appears here Mondays. She may be reached at [email protected]. For previous Reporting Aside columns, go to centralmaine.com.

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