The Great Snowball War of '63
When we were nine, my pals and I, we took part in the last Great Snowball War. It had snowed all week end, from Friday until Monday morning. Great was our joy when we awoke on Saturday morning to be told by our Mothers that there would be no school today. Life couldn't get much better than this.
Monday morning dawned bitterly cold, and with deep snow drifts in the field next to our place. Every child in the village headed for this field, because of its layout, it usually provided great drifts of snow for us to make huge snowmen. We were experts in those days. Marty Moore provided a ladder, which wound up getting lost in the snow and was retrieved when the thaw came, but not before his Dad had invested in another ladder.
We arrived on site, and before long, with much energy applied, we were up to the shoulders of our snowman. Katie Riordan and Violet Dunne had provided the hat and scarf respectively. Not that permission had been sought. Most of us were nine that year, and it was a wonderful age to be. Next year you would have two digits in your age, but this was your last year being a single digit age, and in those days that seemed to be powerfully important to us.
Work was going on apace when the Teddy Boys from the next village arrived. Timsy Moore, Bartle Rourke, Mickey Finnerty and Toby Wade. Shortly after that, their older brothers arrived. Competition in snowman making was fierce between the two villages and the older lads were not above sabotage to make sure that their village had the best snowman. There were no prizes for snowmen, just kudos.
Timsy Moore struck the first blow. A well placed snowball caused Larry Burke to totter on the ladder as he attempted to place the snowmans head on snowy shoulders. Larry hit the ground heavily taking the snowman with him. That was it! There was no other recourse to us. War was declared.
It has always amazed me, in hindesight, how we all knew our jobs. The girls made the snowballs and lined them up for the lads to throw. We were quick and our frozen agile fingers [surely a contradiction in terms] quickly made the pile of snowballs grow and grow.
Larry, dignity assaulted, was the best shot and it wasn't long before the air was alive with snowballs flying backwards and forwards between "Them" and "Us". They made a soft "thuft" sound as they found a target. Things were very satisfactorily going our way until Thady Hanrahan decided to add a stone to his snowball. Violet Dunne was the recipent of this devious weapon and she was lucky not to have lost an eye. Violet left the battlefield howling loudly for her Mammy. In those days we usually took our injuries silently and fought on.
Big Teasy Dunne came up the lane like a battleship in full attack mode. The Hood had nothing on her. Wielding a mop about her, she laid into the other village lads. Timsy Moore got it across the shoulders; Mickey Finnerty ran down the lane holding his nether regions and howling like a gibbon. That he could walk straight after that whack and was not damaged for life was a miracle.
Hearing Teasy roar, other parents began to arrive on the scene, and it wasn't long before the war was over. The other village lot ran off down the hill, and we roared and hooted with laughter at them.
We slowly wended our way home, warm, damp and exhausted but Oh! it was a great war that war of '63.
There was never such a war since. Snow didn't fall that heavily 'til last year. By that time we had all reached our 50's and 60's and dignity and all that you know...
The field is now a housing estate, and todays little darlings sit snugly indoors in snow as they play with their playstations. Oh what they miss out on.
Timsy Moore and I stood at the end of the lane last year and reminisced in the snow about the Great Snow War of '63. He now lives in Dubai, and has done so for about ten years. Last year he came home for six weeks...and a lifetime of memories.