uphill_both_waysBrutal weather, or at least what passes for brutal weather these days*, led several districts, including Minneapolis, to cancel school on Wednesday. St. Paul stayed open but gave parents the option: bring your kids to school and be mean or let them stay home.

*The weather really was brutal. Walking north or west on Wednesday brought on a different kind of chill than what a human body should be asked to endure.

It all reminded us of the time, though, roughly 30 years ago (shut up), when we were in elementary school in Grand Forks, N.D. We’re not sure of the exact grade, but we’re guessing second or third.

School closing in Grand Forks was rare. From what we remember — and again, this was a long time ago so someone can correct us if this is not right — we always had two designated “snow” days banked for the year. If we never used them for a weather event, they were used on a Thursday and Friday near the end of the winter season, which just so happened to coincide with the North Dakota state high school hockey tournament.

Alas, apparently in 1984 or thereabouts, there was a day in the winter that was so bad — a mixture of a lot of snow and brutally cold temperatures, if we remember correctly — that we couldn’t save it for hockey and school was called off.

Back then, though, there weren’t nearly as many ways to find out if school was canceled. You could listen to the TV or radio, but closures weren’t being played nonstop. One supposes the school itself could be called … but apparently none of these things were on the table in our household.

Instead, it was business as usual in the morning. We got dressed in our heavy winter gear, most definitely including snowpants and moon boots, and set out for the walk to school. (Note: We imagined it was much farther than it really is, but Google Maps set the record straight. It was about 1/3 of a mile from where we lived to the elementary school front door).

We arrived at school, and the door was open. We walked in, and … strange, very quiet, we remember. But still, we started to take all our winter gear off in the coat area. Just as the whole process was complete and we were ready for the school day, an adult — either a teacher or administrator, we can’t remember which — popped his head in and asked why we were there.

Um, school?

Oh. Well, school was canceled. Didn’t you hear?

And that was that. It strikes us that even on a day brutal enough for North Dakota to cancel school, it wasn’t brutal enough for us to really question why we were trudging through snow and freezing air. But it is pretty much the worst thing to have school canceled but still show up. Don’t let anyone tell you different.

Have a good “school’s canceled” story? We’d love to hear it in the comments.

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