Thursday, February 16, 2006

Lois Swanee
Museum Curator

Everything closes when it snows

Wasn’t the snow beautiful this past week? It used to snow a lot. We would pray for snow because that meant we would get a holiday. Everything closed during the snow days.

On January 20, 1940, we had company at my house. Cousin Lucy, from Cincinnati came to visit. I remember Cousin Lucy had the most decided Southern drawl I ever heard before or since. Early that morning, Cousin Lucy came in my bedroom and woke me up by saying, “Sara Lois, wake up! There’s a foot of snow on the ground and it’s still coming down!” I jumped out of bed and rushed to the window and sure enough, what a fantastic sight. I had never seen so much snow.

We were out of school two weeks as road were impassable. It remained frigid all that time. Boots and sleds were sold out uptown and all the children in town played and played in the snow.

My father built a sled, like a raft, tied it to the back of his truck, he pulled all of us kids around town and it was so much fun! That snow spoiled us and we thought that it should snow a deep snow at least once a year and I still feel that way. Once a year would be enough.

When my mother was 14, she was going to boarding school in Potts Camp. There came a hard freeze and all the ponds froze over solid. She and her friends ice skated on the ponds and had more fun. She talked about it all of her life. It was a great memory for her.

At various times, various places have been chosen as sledding sites around town. Walter Place backyard used to be a good place (no more though.) Cemetery Hill was a good place but now too many graves have filled the empty hill. (So no more.) Park Avenue at Spring Street was a great place for sliding down the hill when the mayor blocked off traffic. Sliding into the park area might have you end up in that cold spring that used to be deep enough to swim a horse.

In 1951 and again in 1963 the mercury skidded down to zero, and then in 1963 the mercury had the audacity to go to fifteen below zero. That kind of cold wasn’t fun and that wasn’t “fun” snow. It killed many of our trees and did a lot of damage to the town. In 1970 in January, we had an ice storm. I remember walking down the middle of College Avenue with those beautiful trees all bent over the street from all the ice that was dragging them down. Then in more recent history, in 1994, in February, we had a big ice storm. For days the temperature wavered between 33 degrees and 31 degrees – no warmer, no colder. The moisture was like a mist, freezing in the air on the trees, making the streets treacherous. Trees were falling all over town and it is a helpless feeling when you hear that large c-c-crack-k-k, for fear that tree might come through your roof. For a week all the electricity was off all over town except for the hospital and the Baptist Church. People emptied their freezers and brought the food to the church to be cooked. Everyone in town was invited to have dinner, lunch too.

It caused a sense of camaraderie in town that I wish were here all the time.

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