, Newburyport, MA


January 9, 2013

Recalling the days of snowshoveling in Port

When older folks hear of a coming snowstorm, they begin to fret. They worry about what kind of problems it could cause. Mostly the concern is about the slippery conditions, fear of falling as well as fear of driving accidents.

Unlike the aged, youngsters look forward to a good snowstorm with glee! They see the fun they will have in it. When I was a kid, it was a great time to get out onto a hill for some sledding.

As one grows up, a snowstorm brings a different kind of interest, an opportunity to earn money. During the Depression, money was tight, seldom having any in your pocket. Should you ask your dad for money for a movie, he’d say, “Forget it, go outside and play, it’s better for you.” At least that was my experience.

After a snowstorm, we neighborhood kids would take care of the snow around the walkways at our houses. When we finished, we’d throw the shovel over our shoulders and walk down the street. In those days there weren’t many cars on the road. It was a common sight seeing boys walking out onto the street with their shovels. You’d go all around the neighborhood knocking on doors to see if anyone wanted to be shoveled out. When you got an approval, you would not ask about payment. However, if the chance came your way, you’d probably suggest 50 cents an hour. Most times you would shovel them out and let them know when you had finished. Some were fair, some not. In the future you would simply avoid the unfair households.

In my high school years there were bigger jobs available: the state barn that was located under the overpass that crossed Merrimac Street. It was rather a large area where they housed some equipment. I’d get hired sometimes to shovel off the sidewalk on the old (Gillis) bridge that went over the river. Local people must remember the former old steel structure with iron girders and the metal floor. You’d have to hold the steering wheel tightly while driving over it. The walkway ran along one side of the bridge. Throwing snow up and over the railing proved to be a tough workout; being young, I did not mind.

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