In the bleak midwinter . . .

From the Heart

The lyrics of “In the Bleak Midwinter” keep going through my mind, especially the words bleak and moan.

“Snow had fallen, snow on snow, on snow, In the bleak midwinter, long ago”

Forty years ago this week those words were alive and well here in Hamilton County. The writer of that song, Sarah McLachlan, was only 10 and living in Canada and the song was not written until years later but its words are perfect in describing that time in my history.

Of course we did not have the weather forecasting abilities back then that we do now. There were not weeks of speculation. A few days before we heard “winter advisory”.  A few hours before, for the first time, we heard the infamous words “BLIZZARD WARNING”.

Weather people looked out a few days ahead and said … potential of accumulating snow, not snow on snow on snow.

Who knew that much snow was possible? Imagine today if the weather forecasters saw what was possible back then?

Bob Gregory, Stan Wood and Bob “Swoop” McClain were our “go to” weather guys and did an awesome job keeping us in the snow loop. They were on the air for days. As the snow accumulated they hung in there saying, “folks this is a once in a lifetime event” … so we hoped. I believe the word “epic” was discovered amidst the drifts.

Swing wide the grocery doors, the snowpocalypse is coming! We’ve all seen it when they say the words … potential large accumulation … southern wet front colliding with northern artic cold front … blizzard-like conditions possible.

Perhaps that is why those of us who survived that blizzard are now so quick to run to the grocery because we remember when we really could not get out and then the delivery trucks really could not get in.

Nowadays, so many are disappointed when they open the door in the morning to find a mere six inches. Those of us who “survived” the 15 inches in 1978 are not disappointed, for the most part.

When some complain and say, “I wish we could have a snow like 1978,” they have no idea what that means.

We lived behind North Elementary School and the snow blew from the school yard onto 12th Street. We did not “walk” through the snow. We “waded” through the snow. A front end loader was finally brought in to clear the 8 to 10 foot drifts.

I have a picture of me hugging the STOP sign at 12th and Harrison Streets. I was hugging the red hexagon sign NOT the pole holding it. This was before the front end loader came through.

While I have a tendency to exaggerate I can’t exaggerate the snow we had 40 years ago.

My friend, Patrice, was a nurse in Rushville. She lived out in the country and her husband took her, on their snowmobile, to the country road where a sheriff’s deputy picked her up and took her to the hospital. She stayed there three days, delivering blizzard babies that would not wait to be born. (She got a little busy some nine months later, as well.)

We all have our memories, stories to share and tell over and over. Honestly, it is hard to truly describe what it was like. You just had to experience it. It was exciting…for a few days.

I believe the Easter bunny struggled to make it to our homes that year. He even had to borrow Santa’s sleigh. I think the cars at the 500 track had to have snow tires in May. I may remember the fireworks on the 4th of July landed in the snowbanks. Ok, so now I am exaggerating so I’ll end my story. I’ll just say, it was a bleak midwinter some 40 years ago when there was snow on snow on snow.

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