Sunday, Jun 24, 2018
One of America's Great Newspapers ~ Toledo, Ohio


Enthusiasm for building a snowman seems to have melted in recent years

Where have all the old snowmen gone?

One assumes, that as destined, they melted away.

That isn't quite the way it was this winter, because neighborhoods I toured seemed devoid of even partial meltdowns.

Not many years ago, if weather conditions were right, it was usual to see snowmen decorating lawns in many areas of the city, an indication that kids and even grownups were having good outdoor fun and exercise.

Of course, before one can expect snowmen, weather conditions must be favorable. One needs fairly deep snow, with a temperature warm enough to make snow rolling and packing fairly easy.

Granted, this past winter hasn't produced ideal conditions for creating snowmen. But there is more to it than weather, because in several other winters it has been much the same. It appears that snowmen are going the way of so many of our simple pleasures.

Not that people forget the fun of making snowmen or eliminate them entirely from memory. For many, the snowman continues as a happy childhood recollection. Symbols remain everywhere: in advertisements, on Christmas cards, wrapping paper, and in stories and songs.

The concept itself is deeply ingrained. People still love a frosty old snowman, one that challenged the imagination and creative powers of builders - a fairy tale-type fellow, but far more tangible than an imaginative gnome or brownie.

The situation now seems to be that with each passing year, children and grownups find less and less time for outdoor exercise and lighthearted amusement. These days, a snowstorm isn't a signal for kids to don galoshes and mittens and go outside to built a fort or a snowman, or to engage in a harmless snowball fight.

Rather, it is an excuse for a few hours of television or other indoor diversion.

As a kid, I built many a snowman, none of them much of an artistic accomplishment. To roll one that was the largest in the neighborhood usually was my goal. Bits of coal were used to make the jacket buttons and the eyes. A stovepipe hat or jaunty cap usually was forthcoming as a suitable topper.

Each snowman was a special creation, and though its lifetime was short, the act of building it left a warm feeling long after the actual figure melted away.

Snowmen symbolize a time when family life flourished rather effortlessly. In years past, a soft-spoken voice was cultivated and appreciated. In a conversation, moments of silence were not considered frightening. Songs featured a simple, though often beautiful melody.

Tranquility tended to vanish with the onset of television. Traditions and old concepts remained acceptable, but usually only if injected with an ear-shocking blast of modern noise.

The fear of even a moment's silence now is everywhere, and especially prevalent in television programs. Background music, much of it off key and ear-punishing, is hooked onto almost every musical program. and even to otherwise normal dialogue.

Movies and television dramas originally achieved a heightening of emotional impact, by the addition of suitable background music at highpoints. This procedure, however, has been wholly overdone.

Television, I suspect, is the culprit that has lessened the interest of children in making snowmen or devoting time to the out-of-doors.

Fortunately, so individual is an old snowman that it is all but impossible to corrupt the basic concept. Its popularity as an advertising symbol stands as proof that it remains rich in people's lives, needing only a return to activity to restore it as a cultural treasure.

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