Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Valentine's Day Fable #1


Before I moved to Texas (in the middle of sixth grade) I spent my formative years on the East Coast: upstate New York, Baltimore and New Jersey - Westfield, New Jersey to be exact - fifth grade and half of sixth. My parents were both New Yorkers so when my Dad eventually got transfered back to New York from Maryland (oil man) we found ourselves in the perfect Jersey bedroom town of Westfield - complete with sweeping majestic bungalows, city parks and a picture perfect downtown village (I went back for the first time 25 years later in '95 and couldn't believe how much it had stayed the same over the years).

So that's right - my father took the train in every day to Manhatten and back (I can almost hear Sheena Easton right now). We lived on an idylic corner near the park in a two-story colonial with black shutters and a backyard that wrapped around the corner. Now do you now what this meant to little fifth-graders in the throes of a Northeast winter - say around February 14th?

Yup - snow shovelin'. That's alot of sidewalk for a kid with that layout I just described. And that was my job the previous weekend - and I thought I did good, but apparently not good enough.

So I think Valentine's Day that year was on a Tuesday also - Mom had prepared a special dinner and was even dressed up and all (pearl earrings, brooch, bracelet) when she ran to the door to welcome father - home from a long bruising train ride.

But it wasn't good ole Dad. It was a policeman. Mother swears to this day she almost kissed the guy - which would have probably made Officer Hanley's day. Seems old Mrs. McGillicuddy almost fell outside on the sidewalk which was now icing up on one of the coldest VD days I ever knew. Officer Hanley wrote Mom a ticket. Improper snow shovelin'. Not quite a candy heart.

Of course, when Dad got home this put a mild damper on VD festivities. I had a bit of responsiblity here, so I was sweating it - but the big point was how could anybody give somebody's wife a snow shovelin' violation ticket on VD day! We will have our day in court godwillin'.

And so we did - after a week or two of mapping out proper court strategy (and I know there was one but I can't begin to remember now) Dad waged a great campaign to the judge in court that day and only had to pay court fees - or half the ticket which I think came out to $12.50. A grand victory. But - it's the principle you see. And because of this I became very much an expert snowshoveler, pretty much by need - because this could never happen again, mind you.

We moved to Texas within a year. And I have never needed that skill set since. I'm a damn good sweeper though.

Happy Valentine's Day.

14 comments:

Brooke said...

Nothing says love like a freshly shoveled walkway.

Happy happy to you and yours!

Rock said...

Especially in Jersey. Thanks BrookeDude - to you and yours!

Tink said...

I love this story Rock! I've never heard of a ticket for improper snow shoveling... EVER. That's crazy. And giving such a ticket on VD? I got out of a ticket recently because it was on Christmas. It's just proper etiquette.

wordgirl said...

I've never heard of that kind of ticket either. Given the fact that the first six feet of anyone's property actually belongs to the city (and they can do with it what they bloody well please...and usually do), I'm surprised they could expect citizens to keep the walk shoveled and then ticket them when the job wasn't done to their satisfaction.

Rock said...

I'm sure it was called Reckless Endangerment or something like that - yeah, that's the deal it was a bit of a "surprise" to us as well - and this is 1969 before the whole PC brigade had hit, before handcapped parking, secondhand smoke, letting women vote and all. And I think the sidewalks do belong to the City.

Maybe the officer was just hitting on my Mom.

wordgirl said...

Woman voting...okay...now you're just trying to rile me, arent you?

Rock said...

Well, I had just about enough of all that teary-eyed weeping on your site...

wordgirl said...

Emotional response to something you read is very normal and nothing to be afraid of. I'm certainly not doing any of the crying. Besides...the post has changed.

DebbieDoesLife said...

I think this is an urban legend.

Arabella said...

Westfield is beautiful. I'm glad your family did so well with the ticket...how mean!

Rock said...

Wow Arabella - do you really know Westfield? Please share.

Rock said...

and Debbie - are you saying I'm making this stuff up girl?

Arabella said...

I don't know it well, but I do have family there.

And I really love Spanish Tavern, the restaurant.

Rock said...

Well - as a sixth grader I didn't hang out in any restaurants - but we did live on West Dudley near the park and I attended Franklin Annex near downtown (set up for 5th and 6th graders) but now its all school district offices....