Today’s prompt: A song comes on the radio and instantly, you’re transported to a different time and place. Which song(s) bring back memories for you and why? Be sure to mention the song, and describe the memory it evokes.

Hello Good-bye by the Beatles is probably the most evocative because to this day it brings to my mind a particular event that I remember pretty clearly. It was mid-December, 1967 at Verde Valley School, nestled among the red rocks near Sedona, Arizona, where I went to high school.

Aerial view of Verde Valley School campus
Aerial view of Verde Valley School campus, with Cathedral Rock as a backdrop.

(Sedona was mostly unknown then and not the tourist attraction it is today.) It was the day we were all preparing to go home for vacation and gathering in the dining hall/quad area, our luggage in tow. Suitcases were piled up on the covered porch of the dining hall, waiting to be loaded onto the school’s green buses for the trip to Phoenix airport, two hours away.

The famous view of Cathedral Rock after a snowfall.
The most famous view of Cathedral Rock after a snowfall.

The unusual thing about this day was that it was snowing! Sedona typically will get a dusting of snow a few times during the winter months, edging the red rocks in white and creating a silent beauty. But it was not just a dusting that we got on that day. This was a sort of freak storm, the snowflakes coming down fast and heavy and covering the ground in a thick blanket of white. (The storm affected the entire northern half of Arizona, I later learned, causing hardship and a few deaths on the Navajo Reservation where people did not have heating and were not accustomed to weather that cold).

Hello Good-bye blasted  from the speakers in the nearby common room.

The patio outside the common room probably looked pretty much like this that day.
The patio outside the common room probably looked pretty much like this that day.

The song was on the 1967 album Magical Mystery Tour, but it was only that song that evokes these memories, and appropriate for the occasion, I suppose! It’s upbeat with a happy sort of rhythm and enhanced the euphoria of the student body, already excited to be going home as well as by the snow. The vast majority of the students were from Arizona or California, most unused to snow.

What was going on in my mind was, if it’s snowing this much here in the Southwest, what will the winter be like back in Wisconsin? (I needn’t have worried – surprisingly, not only was there no snow at all when I got home, but there was no snowfall the entire three weeks I was home, not even at Christmas – I was disappointed!)

Meanwhile, some of the California kids were going a bit crazy with the snow. A few tried to build a snowman (it was wet, “good packing” snow) with bare hands – hardly anyone had gloves or mittens. One very tall, lanky African-American boy from Oakland was picking up snow and forming it into balls to throw at people. At first he wasn’t very good at it – the snowball fell apart in his hands and scattered harmlessly when he threw it – but eventually he got the hang of it and started packing small, hard snow missiles, ready to throw at anyone who came near. He laughed when he hit his target, thinking it was great fun. He mostly hit people in the back or front of their jackets or on their legs, but one of his snowballs barely missed my head!

“Michael,” I admonished him. “Be careful where you’re throwing that! You don’t understand about snowballs! I come from a place where there’s snow every winter, and I’m telling you they can really hurt someone.”

He didn’t believe me or didn’t care, delightedly continuing to scoop up handfuls (he actually was wearing a tight-fitting pair of leather gloves) of the wet stuff to throw at anyone or anything he found. Fortunately no one was hurt because his aim was terrible!

The students gathering in the quad mounted – the buses were late leaving campus due to the storm.  A few kids were transported in smaller vehicles by staff members to nearby communities, so they were able to leave before the rest of us.

The quad after a light snow.
The quad after a light snow.

The ride to Phoenix in a crowded bus full of chattering students was charged with excitement caused by the snowstorm, the music, and the prospect of seeing family and friends at home. For awhile, looking out the window, I saw nearly whiteout conditions, but little by little the snow dissipated, eventually consisting merely of a few stray flakes floating over the arid landscape. By Phoenix, warm temperatures and a high cloud cover returned.

I don’t remember if my flight to Chicago was delayed or not. I just remember anticipating snow at home and feeling let down by a boring landscape of dead cornfields, naked trees and lawns where nothing was growing, just bare ground of soggy, dead grass!

Greeting card showing snow falling outside the dining hall.
Greeting card showing snow falling behind Brady Hall. The dining hall is on the far left.

Note: None of these photos were taken by me. I downloaded them from Google.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s