The freak snowstorm we had a few weeks ago got me to thinking. Actually it got me to shoveling, and while I was grunting and groaning and trying to get my driveway cleaned off, I began reflecting on my younger days.

I hate snow. I despise it more and more every year. Moving to sunny Florida or Arizona seems more appealing every year. But then I think of my family nestled up here in the Northeast, and how much I'd miss them if I moved south, and then I get the nonsense about relocating out of my head.

But I didn't always hate snow. Wow, when I was a kid I loved it. Snow meant an occasional day off from school, and it often equated into a cash cow. Money could be made from that white stuff that blanketed all the steps and sidewalks.

The bigger the storm, the more money we made, cash that we could use for more important things like going to the movies, or playing pinball machines in the back of Henry Plocinik's store.

The morning after a storm, armed with shovels, we'd start knocking on doors and asking neighbors if they'd like their walks shoveled. More often than not they did. It was worth a couple of bucks to spare them from the back breaking work of clearing their properties. By the end of the day, we'd be dead tired, but happy with the knowledge that we now had some serious spending money.

What happened to those days? While I was shoveling during the last snowfall, along with my son, Jim, who came to help, I would have gladly paid a youngster to do the work. But there were none to be found.

I came to the conclusion that this generation of young people doesn't want to do that type of work.

But then I read a story about a program over in Minersville in Schuylkill County.

The borough of Minersville is offering snow shoveling assistance to senior citizens to clear their properties following a snowstorm.

Where do the snow snovelers come from? They emerge from a program that was started last winter, during which students from the Minersville Area School District do the work for a senior citizen unable to shovel the snow as part of their required community service hours to graduate.

What a great idea!

Last year there were 15 senior citizens who signed up to have their snow shoveled, and 10 students signed up for the community service hours. It was a match made in heaven.

"It's kind of a win-win in that the students get the hours they need and and the senior citizens gets their walks shoveled," one school official said.

We think it's a great idea, and one that should be adopted by area school districts before we get hit by the brunt of this winter.

OUT OF THE MOUTHS

One of the joys of our life, is that my wife, Mary, and I get to spend a lot of time with our two-year-old grandson, Sean James, while his mother and father are working. Seeing him growing up before our eyes is a blessing. He talks to us constantly is his own language and while he usually makes it clear what he wants and doesn't want to do, every so often we wonder just what he's thinking and what's going through that little mind of his.

I guess we'll have to wait a while longer to understand just what he means. In the meantime we'll share with you the thoughts that were taken from papers written by a class of eight year olds, and sent to me by a loyal reader. I got a charge out of them, hope you will also.

The kids were asked, What is a Grandparent? Here are their answers:

Grandparents are a lady and a man who have no little children of their own. They like other people's.

A grandfather is a man, and a grandmother is a lady!

Grandparents don't have to do anything except be there when we come to see them.. They are so old they shouldn't play hard or run.

It is good if they drive us to the shops and give us money.

When they take us for walks, they slow down past things like pretty leaves and caterpillars

They show us and talk to us about the colors of the flowers and also why we shouldn't step on 'cracks.'

They don't say, 'Hurry up.'

Usually grandmothers are fat but not too fat to tie your shoes.

They wear glasses and funny underwear.

They can take their teeth and gums out.

Grandparents have to be smart.

They have to answer questions like 'Why isn't God married?' and 'How come dogs chase cats?'

When they read to us, they don't skip. They don't mind if we ask for the same story over again.

Everybody should try to have a grandmother, especially if you don't have television because they are the only grownups who like to spend time with us.

They know we should have snack time before bed time, and they say prayers with us and kiss us even when we've acted bad.