From out of the cold, an image of the igloo we built as children surfaced from the caves of my memories.

It was the winter of 1957 in upstate Newburgh, New York. Our house was on a hilltop overlooking the newly-built Sherman Heights development. One of the many blizzards left behind these enormous snowdrifts that served as a starting point for an igloo for all of us neighborhood kids to contribute. The snow conditions were just right. It was packable but not too wet, and the temperatures never rose above 36 or 37 degrees.

So we started to form our winter rotunda, heaping what seemed like hundreds of shovelfuls of snow, forming a mammoth mound. My older brothers and their friends bossed us younger ones around, as they did the scooping and heaping. I was seven years old and my wool mittens were soaked and freezing like popsicles because I was commissioned to bring back a pale full of water so they could spray the igloo down until it had a coating of ice.

Before long, they were excavating the inside to make it hollow, being careful not to accidentally jab through to the outside. Before we knew it, the entire day had passed and we weren't finished when the screams to come home for dinner pierced the winter stillness. The next morning, we stood amazed at how wonderous our outside winter home looked. We added the long tunnel entrance but before carving into the dome, one of the dads finished that job and even poked a hole on top so we wouldn't suffocate, he said.

We took turns crawling inside and getting the biggest thrill out of the fact that we built a real dwelling! And in the day or two that it stood up, our fantabulous igloo served as a dormitory, orphanage, and a glaciated orb, where our invention and labor brought together the mythic kingdom of make-believe with the real world.

Phil Paleologos is the host of The Phil Paleologos Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @PhilPaleologos. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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