Rita Howell’s column

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Memory of 1968 causes rethink of spring declaration

What were you doing 43 years ago today? If you were living in Panola County, Mississippi, you were enjoying a Snow Day.

After several balmy days, a surprise snowfall began around midnight on March 21, 1968 and continued the next day, a Friday.

I was in the seventh grade at Batesville Junior High School and rejoiced at the news on the radio that morning: “South Panola Schools are closed today.”

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The Panolian reported 14-15 inches of accumulation, making it one of the deepest snows those of us in the Deep South  have seen.

The irony of the timing of the snow was that it fell on the third day of spring. Daffodils were blooming. Girls were working on tans, using the old fashioned method required before tanning beds were invented.

My sister and I bundled up and headed with our wooden sled to the hills of the country club golf course behind our house. I doubt if the grounds-keeper approved of this activity and I wonder how much damage we caused to the turf, but  every time it snowed, kids from all over town flocked to those pristine hillsides, bringing any device that could be sat upon and ridden down a snow-covered slope.

You couldn’t have kept us away. The golf course was too big and there were too many kids hyped up on Snow Day adrenaline.

If memory serves me, that snow was particularly wet and heavy and not conducive to sledding. But we celebrated this unexpected blessing anyway.

I remember that mild temperatures returned almost immediately and the deep snow was soon melting  to reveal green sprigs of springtime grass.

Remembrances of the Spring Snow of 1968 have caused me to question my weekend accomplishment of packing away the sweaters, coats, mittens, scarves and hats.

The mild weekend and temperatures in the 80s had tempted me to consider that winter is over and it’s time to plant tomatoes.

Recalling March 22, 1968, I am not so sure.