We Just Called It Winter

For some reason, the view out my bathroom window, with long icicles hanging down over it, made me think about winters in Fort Erie when I was a kid. It wasn’t unusual to get a foot or two of snow at a time back then,

Or for it to be replenished regularly right up until the middle of March and sometimes beyond. Today, when I look at all the millennials giving me the weather like it’s some kind of brutal event, I kinda have to chuckle.

We never thought of it as brutal. Nope, sorry,  it was just plain winter.

You bundled up for it. And you shoveled it. And then you have some hot chocolate and played Monopoly and then shoveled it again.

The older people in our neighbourhood would pay me and Doug Ineson a couple of bucks for shoveling out their sidewalks and driveways. So there was money to be made from winter. The same as the money we could make from cutting their lawns in the summer.

When the snow really came down it was piled up high along the edge of a park called the Sugar Bowl. A bunch of us would gather at Larry Jackson’s house nearby and choose wooden guns that Larry’s dad had made, which were replicas of the ones he used when he fought in WW II. There were at least a dozen different shapes, and guys would argue over the submachine guns because they allowed for the coolest sound effects.

Then we would all go to the 20-foot mounds of snow and have battles.

Nobody got hurt and there was very little association with real violence. Because we weren’t stupid, and we had all grown up with cap pistols, bb guns, air rifles, and other toys like that. Eventually, when everybody was figuratively dead, we would go back to Larry’s house and his mom would make hot chocolate.

Winters back then involved a lot of hot chocolate.

Things Have Changed

Today the toys that kids play with require a lot less imagination to connect with real-world violence, and so the concerns about the effect on their brains are much greater than they were back when I was a kid when the effect on us was virtually non-existent.

I have to say that it definitely was a lot better back then when we had to really use our imaginations and our visions were blood-splatter-free. It was a great time to be a kid back then. We had as much fun in the winter as we did in the summer. We were all rail-thin and wiry because we played hard and we played long.

I don’t think about those days all that often. If I did maybe I would have become a different sort of writer. Perhaps a novelist or a real essayist.

As it is, I do believe I became what I was supposed to be, because there never has been a single day when I did not love what I was doing. And I hope I never get to see one.

That image of those icicles, though, really cracked open my memory bank. Who knows what else will seep out? And I’ve got all winter to find out.


Jim Murray
Jim Murray
I have been a writer since the age of 14. I started writing short stories and poetry. From there I graduated to writing lyrics for various bands and composers and feature-length screenplays, two of which have been produced. Early on in my writing career, I discovered advertising. While the other media have drifted in and out, communications writing and art direction have been the constant through a 20-year career senior positions in Canadian and multi-national agencies and a second career, which began in 1989, (Onwords & Upwords Inc), as a strategic and creative resource to direct clients, design companies, marketing consultants and boutique agencies. Early in 2020, I closed Onwords & Upwords and opened MurMarketing which is a freelance strategic development/copywriting/art direction service for businesses working to make a positive difference in the world. I currently write long format blogs in 4 different streams, encompassing, entertainment, marketing, and communications, life in general, and the renewable energy and recycling industries. These are currently published on I have, over the years, created more than 1500 blog posts. I live with my wife Heather in the beautiful Niagara Region of southern Ontario, after migrating from Toronto, where I spent most of my adult life. I am currently recovering from spinal surgery and learning to walk again.

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  1. Jim — We certainly share a certain youth experience especially the part about shoveling other peoples walks and driveways. We also didn’t name storms “back then.” Intense storms were just the “winter of ’69.”

    On your point: “I have to say that it definitely was a lot better back then when we had to really use our imaginations and our visions were blood-splatter-free,” you might enjoy a podcast episode we aired just last week. Our guest had a lot to say about free play.

    Your piece brought back a lot of memories.

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