I have known from my youth that I have a compulsive, almost obsessive, predilection for throwing snow. I grew up in a small town in NW Pennsylvania where we annually received an average 126 inches of snow (most in PA & 15th most in the US). There was generally snow on the ground from late October until the end of March. For as long as I can remember, I threw snowballs walking to and from school. In grade school, middle school and high school, I threw snowballs. I threw them at traffic signs, people and cars and, if I could sneak them in, I threw them in school.
I always walked to school. The buses were the best targets for snowballs. There were usually open windows on the buses as they roared by and I could usually launch three or four snowballs as they passed. At times, the kids on the buses would dare you by sticking their heads out the windows. More than one got a snowball in the head.
One day as I started the journey home, there was a bus loaded with kids paused at a stop sign. I started hammering the bus with snowball after snowball. I wondered why it didn’t move. Heedless of the circumstance, I continued to pelt the bus with snow. The kids on the bus were loving it and would drop the window and push it up as they saw the snowballs in flight. I battered the bus and pummeled the hapless vehicle until I thought it might topple over. A couple of minutes later, to my surprise, a police officer appeared next to the bus and motioned me over. A police car was parked at the stop sign and the bus obscured my view of the car. Unbeknownst to me, the bus driver stepped off the bus and complained to the officer.
What followed was one of the most embarrassing days of my life. In front of many of my laughing school mates, the officer loaded me into the back of his squad car and drove me to the police station. The officers at the station gave me the heavy eyebrow and called my dad. I thought they were going to arrest me and that would be the end of my life. From then on, I would be destined to a life of crime and poverty. My only friends would be the hooligans and thugs who have likewise been incriminated with various offenses. When my Dad arrived, I heard his voice in the other room. My Dad was friends with most of the police officers in town and they thought it was funny they had Ike’s son in the other room. I heard chuckles and laughs, but when my Dad entered the room, there were no smiles. He let me know the seriousness of the offense. He and the police officers didn’t know whether I should spend the night in the lockup or send me home. They figured that with a scar like this on my record, it would be hard for me to find a job. I knew then and there that life had changed forever.
They mercifully released me to go home. For the rest of the evening, I sat in silence and shame. I had sullied the good name of Fairchild. It wasn’t until about a week later that my Dad told me that they didn’t arrest me and that there was no criminal record. Still the trauma of the experience shook me up and it wasn’t until months later that I picked up another snowball. . . . It would not be the last time that snowballs got me into trouble.