I don’t really recall many of the snowy winters we had when I was a boy, well apart from the big freeze of 1963 when I was fourteen which was more cold than snowy, but I guess there must have been many winters that had snow in the 1950s and early 60s. On my flickr site I have a photograph of me in the 1950s taken in the snow in which I’m wearing short trousers and wellington boots, which has been very popular logging nearly 3,400 views to date.
Wearing short trousers in the extremes of winter was not odd or unusual, that’s what boys wore in that era, we defended the wearing of shorts with some pride and indeed, any boy whose mother put him in long trousers simply because it was cold was ridiculed and branded a cissy or a “Mummy’s boy”. In retrospect, I suspect this derision may have originated in part with the boys from the cottage homes who were rather domineering, they would not have been given long trousers to wear until their second or third year in secondary school. The short trousers we boys wore were exceptionally well made and comfortable; usually stopping just above the knee they were lined and subsequently wind-proof and despite our thoughts nowadays of boys wearing shorts in the winter they were actually very warm. I recall that when the time came to eventually graduate into long trousers my first impressions were of how much colder I felt around my middle as they weren’t lined.
Off we’d go to school in the snow, in our shorts and knee-length woollen socks, wrapped up well in an overcoat, scarf and the school cap, or maybe an itchy knitted balaclava and with wellington boots on our feet. There was no hope that school would close because of the snow, it never did; I suppose it’s a sign of the times that teachers nowadays rarely live in the immediate vicinity of the school at which they work. Back in my school days we knew where all the teachers lived, they were all local and part of our community, they all walked to school, indeed, only the headmaster had a car and there was a special place in the playground for him to park; one or two of the teachers lived out of town and they came in by bus or train, but they were an exception, so in the snow nearly all the teachers could get into work.
Now I’d like to tell you that this morning I’ve seen all the kids in our street go off to school happily in the snow, albeit in long trousers and thick puffa coats, hoodies, woollen hats, gloves and anything else they can cram upon their personage to keep warm; but no, despite the fact there’s less than 10cm of lying snow and no drifts, school’s off!
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The photographs used to illustrate this story are from a memory-sharing website which has no apparent restriction on re-sharing.