"Let's hear those feet hit the deck!" my dad's voice would sail upstairs into the room I shared with my sister, Jeanne. I would hear a brief shuffle of bedclothes in the next room, where my two brother slept. Then silence.
"Well, if Joe and Tom aren't getting up yet," I reasoned to myself, "I'm certainly not going to wake up either." And I'd roll deeper into the blankets. So far, Jeanne had not stirred at all. But actually, I was the only one who had to rise at 6 AM for my high-school classes which began at 7.
It was freezing cold out of bed during those Michigan winter months. The thought of hiking a mile through the heavy, packed snow came as an additional sleep inducer. Sometimes I would be aware of a padded silence surrounding the entire house and I would instinctively know that the snow had again fallen during the night as I slept. The eery brightness of the room so early in the morning would confirm this dreaded thought.
The snow was beautiful to gaze at, out the window, but it was no fun to crunch through huge mounds of it, inch by inch, to school. I often wondered if snow shoes - the kind shaped like tennis rackets that appeared to keep a person suspended above the brutal confection of ice - would help in my predicament.
My mind wandered from pillow to snow, creating a reverie which became a dream: I slip out of bed, dress as speedily as possibly in the ice tongs of the morning, wash my face, comb my hair, shuffle down the stairs and murmur hello to my dad who is sitting at the kitchen table having Shredded Wheat with canned peaches, and a cup of coffee, black. He is reading the Detroit Free Press. The section he peruses depends on what time I come downstairs. Usually I arrive during "Sports."
I decide what to have for breakfast, Cheerios or Wheaties. I gulp down a bowlful of my choice slathered in milk and sugar, and finish in two swallows a tall glass of Minute-Maid orange juice. Then, once I've slipped a peanut butter and jelly sandwich into a brown paper bag along with an apple or an orange, I am ready to advance into the morning.
Layered beneath a heavy woolen coat, an oversize woolen sweater, an angora sweater, a flannel blouse, two pairs of jeans, three pairs of knee-highs, a pair of penny loafers, a pair of rubber boots, a knit cap and a muffler, I make for the front door after waving goodbye to my dad.
Now I'm out in it. Winds are hurled at me from off the mountains of glittering snow. The silence nearly crushes me. I feel heavy and lethargic, and I'm thinking of options to my life. Quit school? In the Ninth Grade? I creep towards the monotone orange brick institution sprawled in the new snowfall. At all entrances, the freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors mill into the building, churning the snow into a river of muddy water and carrying it into the classrooms.
I hear the shriek of a school alarm. It is my father's two-fingered whistle, followed by, "I don't hear any water running up there," followed by his weightily timed, advancing steps.
I never knew what would happen by the time Dad reached me and I happened to be dozing. By that point, my feet never wanted anything more than to hit the deck and get some water splashed into my face.