2017-02-23 / Columnists

Babylon News & Muse

•Meadow and Maci Ferrigno of Babylon are set to appear in an episode of the CBS series “Madame Secretary.” The episode is scheduled to air in early March. The girls will play Chloe, the daughter of Jay Whitman, policy adviser to the secretary of state. The girls’ parents, Anthony and Jennifer Ferrigno, as well as grandparents Ralph and Donna Consola, are waiting with baited breath for the episode to air!

•Not much is going on, but some people have asked me to write about my lifelong experiences here in Babylon, so this is about winter back in the 1950s and ‘60s.

When I was a child, our snowstorms seemed much worse and came several times each winter. Twelve inches now has everyone in such a frenzy, it seemed absurd! I remember vividly the snow came up to our knees, while this last storm barely felt as if it was up to our ankles! Of course, back then, our knees were a lot lower!

When we had a snowstorm like this one, my two brothers and I would pile into our snowsuits and head out in the storm right after breakfast, making snowmen, snow forts and having legendary snowball fights.

The biggest challenge of the day was to get into snowsuits (with suspenders), with mittens dangling from the jacket sleeves and galoshes. (These were boots that fastened up the front or side with metal buckles. After you were outside for a few minutes, the buckles froze solid. It was quite a struggle to get them on, much less to get them off when your fingers were frozen!) When you were still little, your mom had to help you put on all these clothes. By the time you were ready, you would need to go to the bathroom and would have to get out of the layers and go through the struggle to don all the clothes a second time! It’s hard to know who was more frustrated… the parent or the child!

Once you were outside, you stayed out as long as possible in spite of the howling wind and the falling snow. We met up with neighborhood friends and built snowmen, or snow forts, and eventually wound up in a huge snowball fight. This would result in whoops of laughter and at least one exhausted and frozen child bursting into tears when they got hit in the face or had snow shoved down their neck.

After what seemed like hours, Mom would ring the old cowbell that was the signal for us to come home. The group broke up into families and dragged through the snow tired and hungry. Our faces would be beet red and chapped from the wind, and our fingers and toes numb. Usually you would have to run the tub with warm water to defrost them as they throbbed with pain.

Mom would have fixed a lunch of soup and sandwiches, which we would devour. As soon as lunch was finished we would beg to go back out in the snow.

Sometimes we would go out and repeat the morning’s activities. Unfortunately, I had asthma that reacted badly to cold and wind, and I recall that I was often told to take a nap!

Today, few children are outside during or immediately after the storm. They stay indoors and use some sort of electronic machine, whether it’s a TV, a computer or something along that line. Back when I was small, we had TV but only a few channels. The programs were much less tempting than being outside in the snow.

When we were a little older, we spent school day afternoons and weekends in the Harper’s huge backyard. The house sat 10 feet back from Argyle Avenue and about 75 feet east of the path called the Ramble that circles Argyle Lake. They lived across the street from the Ricketts and catty corner to the Rettaliatas. We lived one block directly west of the Harpers. The gang then included Johnny Mike and Janey Harper, Susie and Chrissy Ricketts, my brother Robbie, Peter Rettaliata and me.

There was enough of a slope down from the Harper house to the lake that we could push off near the patio and sled down to the chain-link fence near the lake. When we got a bit older and there was thick enough ice on the lake, we would shoot through the open gate and out onto the lake! At some point we found some old wooden skis and go down halfway across the yard on those.

Red-pink light from the winter sunsets would cast shadows in front of us from the west, and then a large moon would rise from northeast of the high school, as the long day turned to night. Still we sledded or skied until it was time to go home. If there were no snow, we would skate on Argyle until after the streetlights turned on. I don’t think I have ever experienced anything as joyful in my life as I did with my close friends on those winter evenings. It seems impossible that we all could have gone our separate ways only a few years later.

•We are sending birthday greetings to Ada Johnson, Chris Maya, Hans Seidenberg, Bob McKeown, Tom Donnelly, and Mark Lessing. I wish you all a super year!

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