By Gerald W. Deas, M.D.
When I was a youngster growing up in Brooklyn, I actually prayed for snow to come. Snow meant two things: dessert and money. I could take some of that new-fallen snow before the cats. Dogs and birds got to it and add some evaporated milk, sugar and vanilla or some chocolate syrup, if available, and enjoy an unlimited supply of ice cream.
Second, a good snowfall meant extra money for me and my family. I would shovel snow until I couldn’t feel my hands or my feet, but it felt good coming home with a pocket full of money. When my hands and feet would thaw out out, I was right back out there in the streets, throwing snow like a snow blower or digging out cars.
O yes, I enjoyed sleigh riding and throwing snowballs, but first things came first. I realized from a youngster that tomorrow the snow would be partially gone and the money made from removing it from sidewalks would also dry up. Now, I wasn’t the only one shoveling snow. All of my friends were competing with me for the next house. As I recall, those days, me and my friends were learning a very important survival tactic called “work ethic,” which means that you had to work your mind and your body to survive.
My wife’s grandfather use to say, “Plan your work and work your plan.” My friends and I did just that.
Growing up in Brooklyn, I went to Boy’s High School and had a zillion friends. All of us came from families that depended upon weekly incomes for survival. Snow didn’t keep anyone from getting to their jobs, for if you were absent, it may have meant your job! Even my mother would trudge through the snow to do a day’s work of cleaning houses.
Work ethic paid off for myself and my friends in becoming somebody. They became teachers, preachers, doctors, lawyers, engineers, social workers, mayors, chiefs of police and fire departments, publishers and a host of other professions that have made us what we are today. You name it, you became it, with work ethic.
Snow was our manna from heaven because it made us realize that if you worked hard, you would not only accomplish your goals, but you could also enjoy the desserts made from it. Snow ain’t all that bad!