Tuesday, January 02, 2007
Memories of winters past
While I'm bundled up snug as a bug in a rug, and it is colder than blue blazes outside; it's made me think of other really cold winters.
At the beginning of A Christmas Story, the mother dresses the kids up for school in coats, hats, golashes, gloves, scarves, etc. I can't see it without remembering growing up in Pueblo Colorado as a small child. I still remember the golashes that had metal snaps and walking to school through snow drifts. The night my sister was born (I was nine) Dad took Bruce and me out to get a bowl of Green Chile Stew. The first time I ever had that dish. He said that was the only way to warm us up. It was thirty degrees below zero as we stepped out of the restaurant. And he was right, we barely felt the cold as we walked to the car.
I remember a project at school where I took a toy saw to make a hogan. A couple of friends and I walked home and on the way we sawed the arms off all the snowmen in the front yards.
That summer we moved down to Albuquerque, and I have never experienced such a cold winter since. I don't remember any "snow days" where they called off school for the rest of elementary school and junior high.
In January of 1971, my junior year in high school we had the coldest winter on record. It started snowing friday night, and we only got a few inches, but it got down to seventeen below zero. It's still the record low for Albuquerque. Bruce and I got up for Chruch on Sunday morning and were doing a good job of making up the hill when we saw someone from our Sunday School Class stuck on the ice. We stopped and gave them a push which got them on their way, but then we couldn't get moving so I had to sit on the trunk for traction. It wasn't far to the church, but I was nearly frozen by the time we got there. School was canceled for the rest of the week, which though not getting as low as 17 below still stayed around 10 below with the highs for the day being only 10 or 15 above zero. Natural Gas was in short supply and they closed schools and alot of other businesses so houses could be heated. My maternal grandparents came down from Canyon City, Colorado for a visit that summer and we were still talking about the cold snap. I can remember Grandpa saying "Well we had a cold snap then too, but it only got down to 17 below and we didn't think much of it."
The year Grinnygranny and I were married we had a freak snowstorm hit right at rush hour traffic in the afternoon. I drove down in my big as a tank 1969 Fury III with three boxes of books in the trunk for traction to pick GG up from work. She was afraid her 1976 Maverick wouldn't get her home. I had little trouble getting to her office because it was downhill, but on the way back uphill it was a different story. We did alright until we got right in front of UNM on Central Ave. It was bumper to bumper and the street was so icy it was hard to get any traction at all. College students came out and helped give people shoves to get started. It took us three hours to make it to Mom and Dad's house, which was only two miles from where GG worked. It was another five miles to our apartment so we decided to stop there for the night. Just as we started getting into bed Grinnygranny remembered she didn't have her birthcontrol pills with her, and she took them at night. So at 10pm I get dressed drive the five miles to our apartment and back with the magic pills. (She's going to kill me when she reads this)
In the 20 + years of teaching there have been maybe three 2-hour delay days with perhaps one closed day per decade. Albuquerque really doesn't get that much bad weather over an entire winter. We will sometimes get more snow in March or April than in January or February.
We took a trip to San Antonio durring Spring Break in 1993 and on the day we left it snowed on us all the way to Fort Stockton, Tx. But spring snow is wet and slushy not icy like winter snow.
When we moved into our house on the west side we had a snowstorm while I was teaching at a school on the other side of town. They announced it was a two hour delay, which for me meant leave at the normal time because it will take two hours to get across the Rio Grande and hope you make it the rest of the way by the delayed start time. And I did get there, just as I was pulling up to school the radio announced schools were closed, and I had to turn around for the return trip. I decided the next two hour delay I'd call in sick. Never had another one until I started teaching where I am now which is within walking distance.