Times are changing, even for a S.D. winter


The recent POLAR VORTEX (you have to yell it, you just can’t say it) winter blast brought home to me how much times have changed. 

All over town, students were listening for the ring tone on dad’s phone or waiting for mom’s phone to vibrate. They were waiting impatiently for the school district to call and say that there would be no class the next day. 

There were no calls when I was a kid. If it looked like the weather was primed for providing a snow day, we’d start listening to Bert Getz on KBRK at about 5:30 in the morning. Odd that we fought getting out of bed for school, but the prospect of a snow day had us awake and excited before dawn. 

Then times changed and people started watching the crawl across the bottom of the TV screen to see if school was called off. KELO calls its a “Closeline.” I wonder how many young people don’t get that play on words. How many generations removed are we from the day when every family had a clothes line?

To its credit, the school district doesn’t rely on just a phone call. The announcement is also tweeted. When we find out about it, the Register staff puts the closing on our Facebook page where it gets shared multiple times. It’s not the kids who are sharing the post, but their parents. 

One thing I never worried about as a kid was what I was going to do with myself during a snow day. There were games inside and snowball fights outside. And the best part – no school.

Now a school closing offers a challenge for many two-income families who have to wonder what they’re going to do with their kids all day. Do they line up an emergency sitter or does one of them burn a vacation day to stay home with the kids?

Our family doesn’t have to face that decision – yet. Camden is 5 and will be in kindergarten next year. Kendall is 3 and thinks she should be teaching third grade. Even when Camden’s preschool was canceled, we just walked the kids across the street to the world’s best daycare provider (name being withheld here because we want her all to ourselves). Daycare across the street? I mean, how lucky are we? 

We realize we have it much easier than many parents. We live in town. We have grandparents here who are more than happy to help out. Our jobs are flexible, mine in particular. Since I’m the publisher, no one really knows what I do all day, anyway. 

The one thing I don’t usually do is complain about the weather. I grew up believing it was going to be cold in the winter and hot in the summer. South Dakota is still that way, but as a society another way we’ve changed is through this obsession we’ve developed with picking apart the simplest of things. 

When I was a kid, no one ever heard of a POLAR VORTEX. Sounds like something out of a science fiction novel. 

We knew it was cold in the winter, but I guess we didn’t know HOW cold. Little did we know that the the thermometer was lying to us. It wasn’t really 2 below zero. Factor in the wind and it was 20 below zero. 

How did we get along without a heat index in the summer? How did we ever survive our weather ignorance?

All this grumbling about how times have changed for the worst has me sounding like a curmudgeon and that’s Kubal’s job. 

Where’s Bert Getz when you need him? Obviously my attitude would improve if I just had a snow day.

Billy McMacken is the publisher of The Brookings Register. Contact him at [email protected] He will respond after he’s done shoveling snow – AGAIN!

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