Thursday, January 3, 2008

Snow Storms I have known











Snow is still on the ground and we have actually had 3 decent snows so far this season....total accumulation probably in the 15 inch area....In my years I have went through some pretty good storms and storm seasons.

The winters of 62-63 and 76-77 in Ohio, 70-71 in upstate NY, and the winters in northern Wisconsin of 77-78 and 78-79 stand out. Throw in some of those winters in the 1980s out on the farm south of Celina and I've seen it just about all since we left Florida when I was in 8th grade.

March of 1979 in Wisconsin was not as cold as the previous winter of 77-78, but it had a couple of major storms....the one I remember best was on the weekend of March 25th....I was working the 5 to 10 PM on-air shift at WJMT in Merrill, Wisconsin, Anissa was a month old....Patricia stopped by the station with her and was telling me that she and Anissa would stay at the station because the roads were getting bad....we had a 1976 Jeep Cherokee and a 74 AMC Hornet...as it was still daylight, I told her to go home in the Jeep, a call me when she got there, if I didn't hear from her in 30 minutes, I would leave and follow the route. {the station was located in the Merrill House Hotel and one of the other DJs lived there, I could use him to sub if needed}.

As it happened they made it home OK, but she called me and told me to stay at the station, I had the Hornet and the roads were getting worse by the minute.....10PM arrived and shift ended, and I was closing up shop...a trucker called the station and told me to tell everybody to stay off the roads because they were awful and becoming untravelable..I told him "thanks" and put a public service announcement up on the air for the "canned" overnight shift(which was run without a local DJ and on tape)...I did not heed his warning myself however.

I started off towards home....located on the Marathon-Lincoln County Line out in the middle of nowhere, 20 miles from Wausau, and 8 from Merrill. The Hornet actually traveled in the snow pretty well for a rear wheel drive vehicle....problem was I could not see the roads. I spotted what I though was a road a few miles out of town and turned...wrong! It was a driveway to a farm building....I stopped and backed out, and continued to head south until I finally found my turnoff....going west I had to go a mile or so and then backtrack to the north for a couple of miles until I hooked up with the county line....few farms and I had about a half tank of fuel.....about a mile(my guess) from the county line, the AMC started to slide off the right side of the road(which of course I could not see anyway)...as I dropped down in the ditch, I thought to myself..."shit, this might be it", as I pulled the wheel towards the road, I took one last chance and gunned the pedal to the floor, as it would happen the car slammed though the drifts and back on the roadway. A few minutes later I took the west turn and drove the final 2 miles towards the farm without incident.

As I pulled into the drive of the rented farm house....the car struck a drift, I didn't care I was home, I jumped out and made my way to the porch door.....we had 4 dogs at the time, the house dogs Rags and Max the Airedales, and two mixed breed small mutts, Jenny and her daughter Dixie...the small dogs were in the basement during the storm, the Airedales were in the house....Max was a pretty damn good watch dog, and at 100+ pounds not something to mess with....I hit the porch and opened the door..Max, not knowing I was home and thinking(?) this was his domain hit the floor running, with bad intent...I was bundled up and all I could do was yell..."Max, Max, It's me God Damn it"...the big goof slid to a halt..and I was saved from further stress......

We were pretty much housebound for the next 3 or 4 days until the wind died down and the roads were cleared.....here it is almost 29 years later, and I can still remember just how stupid I was, and how close to disaster I came....I respect storms much more these days.....and even with the Jeep Wrangler, I know better than to travel unprepared.


(photos from the Storm of 79}The Hornet Buried in the Driveway, The County Plow digs out my driveway, Rag and Max looking for Jenny, who was safe and dry in the basement, and finally the sun comes out and I dig out Jenny's dog house.

4 comments:

The Hermit said...

I used to really like snow but these days I can do without it.

Buck Pennington said...

I drove from South Bend IN to far eastern Montana (on the MT - NoDak border) in the blizzard of Dec '77. In most areas there was only one lane of the interstate open, in some places it was closed temporarily, and the two lane roads in NoDak after I left the interstate were...um... "fun." If you call a long-distance drive at a max speed of 35 mph "fun," that is.

Like you, Pat, I'm a lot more careful these days.

BRUNO said...

I think we all "took the roads for granted" when we were still burdened with balls the size of peaches, instead of raisins!

Man, nowadays when I drive the 10 miles into town, you'd think I was gonna be gone for a week, by all the stuff I pile in the vehicle with me!

You know---"just in case"...!

~Fathairybastard~ said...

Those are great pictures. Yea, I remember a long snowy winter in Ft. Worth in about 77 or 78. Snow stayed on the ground for two weeks or so. Usually it's just here for a day or so and turns to slush or ice on the roads. I've always thought it would be cool to be snoiwed in, thinking of it like a snow day from school. Wish I had pictures of the snow we used to get in Missouri or England. Those were the days. I still love it.