When we were kids there was always a way of turning an ice and snow storm into an honest dollar without always having to shovel the stuff.
One was to go down to the Eagle's Hall and hang around the pool table until the bartender called a couple of you to help one of the customers home over the icy sidewalks. The going fee for this was a quarter apiece, and the guy would get it attached to his bill.
Or then there was the fire hose factory. The factory let out at 5 each day and, since it was a weaving mill, a lot of women were employed there.
The women who lived downtown had to walk up a rather steep path through the park to catch a bus. For Neil Murphy, who weighted about 300 pounds, the walk was bad in the summer, and if there was ice on the hill in the winter, it was almost impossible. Neil was a nice lady and had a shelf full of cups she had won for ballroom dancing during an earlier phase of her life.
My home was across the street from the factory, so if I happened to be sitting around about 5 o'clock on one of those icy nights my mother would say, "Get a couple of your friends and help Neil up the hill."
Friends all lived nearby, and we were moved to action more by the challenge of getting Neil up the hill than the quarter tip involved.
Three strong kids was a good number of work the project, with one at each arm pulling her along and one behind, pushing.
We could move her along pretty well until the guy behind would start yelling, "She's sliding back."
The trip up the short hill would take about 15 minutes, and Neil was always grateful when we reached the bus stop.
This particular assignment didn't come often because, usually, sometime during the next day the path would be heavily sanded, ruining sledding, but making it easier for Neil.
Checking into the local grocery store with a sled to deliver groceries to snowbound families was another surefire tip job.
Another surefire 50-cent-tip up-front operation was to get a group of guys and hang around at the foot of an icy hill. When a car got caught-spinning its wheels and digging deeper into the snow we would offer our proposition to get behind and push, giving a good start up the hill. Tip first, of course.
Our winter livelihood during snow storms came to an end when we hit 16 and let the younger kids take over.
At 16 you could get working papers, so when the snow fell we bundled up and headed for the city barn to shape up and get hired to remove snow for a dollar an hour.
For some people, there is always someone doing better in life. I remember a zero night about one a.m. when my toes, nose and the tips of my fingers were freezing.
About six of us were standing around a huge pile of snow that a bulldozer kept feeding.
Our job was to shovel it onto dump trucks that always seemed empty. I was thinking about the dollar an hour I was making and knew I had made at least 10 bucks that day. The guy next to me stopped for a minute and said, "My older brother is over shoveling for the Boston and Maine (RR); they're paying a buck 25."
It's been overnight since the snow fell and the two paths leading from my house are still not shoveled.
Neither are the front and side walks.
I have a couple of snow shovels left over from the days when I lived up north where it really snowed.
So here I sit, watching the unshoveled snow and thinking, "If I do it myself, how can I make a buck?"