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DARRELL HUCKABY: Too cold for school — here or up North

OK. I’m fixing to beat a dead horse — again.

In December I went to New York City for a wonderful Christmas weekend. It snowed 6 inches on Saturday and was 25 degrees. My Southern-bred friends and I didn’t whine or whimper. We put on our thermal underwear and layered up with sweaters, coats, hats, scarves and mittens and trekked around the city all day, beginning at about 8:30 a.m. Many of us were still outside at midnight, doing the Times Square thing. We asked no quarter from the weather. We were in New York and doing what, we supposed, New Yorkers do.

But when we did step inside for a few minutes, to get dressed for dinner and such, we turned on the news and guess what we saw? The same thing we see on our local newscast when a snow storm hits. There were reporters standing out in the weather and shots of kids sledding on the snow — but there were also shots of people in the suburbs raiding the grocery stores and stocking up on milk and bread and toilet paper — and there were cameras at the hardware stores spying on people who were buying rock salt and snow shovels and the like.

In other words, it was just like back home. They even had retailers on camera bemoaning the fact that on what was supposed to be one of the best shopping weekends of the Christmas season, people were staying home in droves because of the weather. In New York! Who’d a-thunk it!

Yesterday, as you know, schools were closed all over North Georgia because of the chilling arctic temperatures that swept over us from the polar ice caps. (Didn’t Al Gore claim they would be gone by now? ) It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why schools were closed.

Our buses have a hard time cranking when the temperature is in single digits and a lot — I mean a lot — of our kids ride the bus. Some of them have to get up and get themselves to the bus stop every morning and the last thing we needed was to have young children standing on the side of the road in 6-degree weather waiting for a bus that might or might not be able to make it.

Believe it or not, many of our school children don’t have warm coats to wear. We have been blessed with a number of mild winters lately and a lot of families feel like a heavy winter coat is a luxury, not a necessity. There are simply too many variables in this part of the country to risk sending thousands of children out into the deep freeze. The powers-that-be in our local school system made the absolute correct call.

And yet, on my Facebook page, many of my friends were ridiculing the fact that schools were being closed “for nothing.” If you are one of the people who do not have children or grandchildren who are affected, maybe the record cold blast was “nothing.” If you are blessed with a warm house and warm clothes and drive your child from the garage to the front door of the school house, maybe it was “nothing.” But public schools serve the public, and most of the public weren’t equipped for this kind of cold.

Not surprisingly, much of the ridicule being heaped upon the school systems were from those who have migrated from the great frozen tundra of the North. You’ve heard them.

“I’m from Ohio and we never closed school.”

“When I lived in Buffalo we wouldn’t have even thought this was cold.”

Quite frankly, we don’t care how y’all did things in Buffalo — or Ohio — or New York City for that matter, and if things were so much better there, the eternal question continues to arise. What are you doing down here, amongst us poor ignorant Southerners.

Now I disparaged Al Gore earlier in this column, but I am thankful, at least, for his invention of the Internet because it allowed me to do a little instant research. I bet a lot of you will find this very interesting.

In and around New York City and Long Island yesterday, 25 school systems were closed — because of cold weather. Well hark a lark!

This is Tuesday’s headline for the Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch. “Deep Freeze Closes Schools— Again.” Subhead — “Ohio State University and virtually every school system in Ohio will be closed for the second day in a row because of the cold conditions that have swept over the state.”

The University of Georgia was open, by the way.

And in Buffalo, N.Y. —yes, THAT Buffalo — all school schools in and around Erie, Niagara and Allegheny counties — schools are closed tighter than Dick’s hatband.

The myth is busted.

To all of you delightful denizens of the northern states who have had the good sense to come here and embrace our Southern peculiarities, welcome South and God bless you. To those of you who come here and insist on demeaning our way of life and telling us how much better things were up North — kiss my rebel grits.

Ludlow Porch was right. Sometimes beating a dead horse is more fun than you think.