Here's How Kids Enjoyed Snow Days 100 Years Ago

Getty Images
Getty Images

Never take free time for granted. In the 1910s, when child labor was common, free time was a luxury many kids couldn’t afford. Yet, then as now, some much-needed recreation might be had on the occasional snow day. To lucky youngsters, several entertainment options were available, including these popular pastimes.

1. BREAKING OUT THE FLEXIBLE FLYERS

During the 1910s, these sleds became a bona-fide national craze: 2000 were sold daily in December 1915 alone. Named after some well-placed hinges which enabled easier steering, wooden Flexible Flyers remained iconic for decades and are still produced today, despite steep competition from plastic rivals.

2. BOILING SOME OLD-FASHIONED HOT COCOA

Before the age of microwaves and Swiss Miss powders, making warm chocolatey beverages was a lot more time-consuming. Standard recipes often involved boiling cocoa shells or cracked cocoa beans: a process which usually took over an hour.

3. PLAYING ICE BARREL BALL

Imagine if hockey and basketball had an eccentric, nonviolent lovechild. Matches took place on outdoor ice rinks with five players on each team. Both sides had a barrel into which their opponents would try to throw the ball while skating. Naturally, these slippery conditions would have made dribbling impossible, so carrying was permitted. Should an adversary tag the ball-carrier, the rules dictated that he throw it immediately. Tackling, shoving, and other forms of fighting would be strictly penalized.

4. PLAYING ROOK

During the early 1900s, certain religious groups were not OK with card games. In order to win over those who found them immoral, Parker Brothers introduced “Rook” decks in 1906, which lacked “face” cards (kings, queens, etc.) and, hence, did not immediately lend themselves to gambling. Their new game soon caught on and became a wholesome family staple, with advertisers billing it as “The Delight of Winter Evenings."

5. "LION"-HUNTING

This strategic chase involved a tracking party and their lion impersonator, who’d flee into some nearby trees, leaving trails of corn en route. As with “Siberian Manhunt,” both the hunters and the hunted then threw snowballs in an effort to eliminate each other. There was also a warm-weather version, played with tennis balls.

6. HEADING INDOORS FOR SOME "DOUBLE-DOMINO"

Wooden boards, some drilling equipment, and a rubber ball were all this leisurely sport required. Simply carve a few “domino-style” holes into your planks, prop them up, stand back, try bouncing your ball off the floor and through one of those freshly-cut openings, and voila! Instant amusement.

There Could Be Hundreds of Frozen Corpses Buried Beneath Antarctica's Snow and Ice

Prpix.com.au/Getty Images
Prpix.com.au/Getty Images

Scientists and explorers take a number of risks when they travel to Antarctica. One of the more macabre gambles is that they'll perish during their mission, and their bodies will never be recovered. According to the BBC, hundreds of frozen corpses may be trapped beneath layers and layers of Antarctic snow and ice.

“Some are discovered decades or more than a century later,” Martha Henriques writes for the BBC series Frozen Continent. “But many that were lost will never be found, buried so deep in ice sheets or crevasses that they will never emerge—or they are headed out towards the sea within creeping glaciers and calving ice.”

In the world’s most extreme regions, this is not uncommon. For comparison, some estimates suggest that more than 200 bodies remain on Mt. Everest. Antarctica's icy terrain is rugged and dangerous. Massive crevasses—some concealed by snow—measure hundreds of feet deep and pose a particularly serious threat for anyone crossing them on foot or by dogsled. There’s also the extreme weather: Antarctica is the coldest, driest, and windiest place on Earth, yet scientists recently discovered hundreds of mummified penguins that they believe died centuries ago from unusually heavy snow and rain.

One of the most famous cases of a left-behind body on Antarctica dates back to the British Antarctic Expedition (also known as the Terra Nova Expedition) of 1910 to 1913. British explorer Robert Falcon Scott and his four-man team hoped to be the first ones to reach the South Pole in 1912, but were bitterly disappointed when they arrived and learned that the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen had beaten them to it.

On the return trip, Scott and his companions died of exposure and starvation while trapped by a blizzard in their tent, just 11 miles from a food depot. Two of those bodies were never found, but the others (including Scott’s) were located a few months after their deaths. Members of the search party covered their bodies in the tent with snow and left them there. The bodies have since travelled miles from their original location, as the ice grows and shifts around them.

Other evidence suggests people landed on Antarctica decades before Scott’s team did. A 175-year-old human skull and femur found on Antarctica’s Livingston Island were identified as the remains of a young indigenous Chilean woman. No one yet knows how she got there.

Accidents still happen: After coming close to completing the first solo, unaided traverse of Antarctica, British adventurer Henry Worsley died of organ failure following an airlift from the continent in 2016. Most modern-day polar visitors, however, have learned from past missteps.

[h/t BBC]

Dolly Parton, They Might Be Giants, and More Featured on New Album Inspired By the 27 Amendments

Valerie Macon, Getty Images
Valerie Macon, Getty Images

Since 2016, Radiolab's More Perfect podcast has taken what is typically viewed as a dry subject, the Supreme Court, and turned it into an engrossing podcast. Now, fans of the show have a whole new way to learn about the parts of U.S. history which textbooks tend to gloss over. 27, The Most Perfect Album, a new music compilation from Radiolab, features more than two dozen songs inspired by each of the 27 amendments to the U.S. Constitution, from freedom of religion to rules regulating changes to Congressional salaries.

More Perfect assembled an impressive roster of musical talents to compose and perform the tracklist. They Might Be Giants wrote the song for the Third Amendment, which prohibited the forced quartering of soldiers in people's homes. It goes, "But the presence of so many friendly strangers makes me nervous, and it does not mean that I'm not truly thankful for your service."

For the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote, Dolly Parton sings, "We carried signs, we cursed the times, marched up and down the street. We had to fight for women's rights with blisters on our feet." Less sexy amendments, like the 12th Amendment, which revised presidential election procedures, and the 20th Amendment, which set commencement terms for congress and the president, are also featured. Torres, Caroline Shaw, Kash Doll, and Cherry Glazerr are just a handful of the other artists who contributed to the album.

The release of the compilation coincides with the premiere of More Perfect's third season, which will focus on the 27 amendments to the U.S. Constitution. You can check out the first episode of the new season today and download the companion album for free through WNYC.

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