No Business Like Snow Business
The first time I mentioned the fateful “S” word in this space was in my third column when the short article was about Fulton’s first winter festival.
“Hey Dad, I went down and signed up for the snow sculpturing contest; it will be fun.”
That’s how the Saturday afternoon adventure started. The family members were gathered together in our front yard at the beginning. Then, the chief adviser had to leave to do her grocery shopping.
There were a couple of mysterious disappearances, and some shouted directions from inside the window; finally, the fearless leader was alone in the front yard with a 20-foot-long hunk of ice cleverly disguised as a vicious dragon generously slathered with green food coloring.
And then the proud declaration the next day: “Hey Dad, I won.”
In January, 1980 I wrote about the arrival of winter – “I knew winter weather had finally arrived in Fulton last week when everybody in our household was frantically looking for mittens, boots, snow pants, scarves, etc. . . . and when someone said, How many days until spring?”
“There’s No School Today!”
Adam was worrying about snow days in 1981.
“Since it was snowing hard when we went to bed, I shouldn’t have been surprised by the knock on the bedroom door in the morning.
“Mom, Dad, guess what, there’s no school today.”
There were columns about cross country skiing and neighbor Matt MacDowell, snow blower doctor. It was Matt’s skillful touch which brought our faithful friend back to life from impending doom time after time.
During ensuing winters, I wrote about how winter weather causes us to reminisce about the hot days of last summer and last year’s vacation; and how some of us brag about our winters: “Our schools are allotted five ‘snow days’ a year but we didn’t use them because we ‘only’ got 200 inches of snow.”
In one column, I was trying to explain what a blizzard was, and in another I was talking about the winters I enjoyed as a kid: “When we were kids we used to think that Syracuse had more snow than other place in the world.”
Years later, living in Fulton certainly changed my mind about that.
Another year I admitted that I was never ready for winter, and the next year I was wondering whether the stormy weather we were getting should or shouldn’t be called a blizzard.
In February, 1993, I was pondering many questions I had been asked: “Enough snow for you?”, Do you think it will ever stop snowing?”, “Where are we going to put all this snow?”, “How much snow have we got?” “Is there school today?”
And on and on.
As the years went on, I felt like a refugee of winter: “My car doesn’t have one of those electronic voices but if it did I know it would be telling me to ‘Go back inside stupid, it’s 20 degrees below zero out here.’”
I thought I would feel better if I reviewed the “Blizzard of ’66,” and every year I called John Florek at the water works and talked about the city’s depressing snow figures.
As the century turned I was exclaiming. “My car, it’s back, out there on the deck. What I was looking at was our outside cooker with a pile of snow on it.
The cooker itself was the body of the car, the shelf next to it was the hood. There were two little round piles that resembled wheels. The cooker sits out there all year long and it’s a cooker; we get six inches of snow and it becomes a car.”
251 Inches; Then, “Unsnowiest” Winter
It was March 10, 2001 and Fulton had received 251 inches of snow for the 2000-2001 snow season.
When I called John Florek in January, 2002 he said it had been the “unsnowiest” winter since records had been kept in Fulton. The city ended up with a total of 100.5 inches of snow that year.
In February 2007, I wrote that Fulton schools were closed for the fourth time in five days. In January 2009 I was reminded that people in my family, who were farmers, used to say that a year of heavy snow would be a good year later on.
The official proverb puts it this way: “A year of snow, a year of plenty.”
In January 2010, I was telling readers that the first patents for snow plows were issued in the 1840s. On Feb. 12, 2011, I noted some of us like to see snow in December, not so much in January, a little less in February, and don’t want to hear the word in March.
Monday, Jan. 30, 2012: While I was out in our driveway in Syracuse clearing away 3 inches of light snow, Jeff was in Fulton working on moving 3 feet of a new snowfall around.
A year ago, on Jan. 5, 2013, I was thinking about the winter days my friends and I spent at the dump – the natural in- the-backyards hill at the end of our street – with lots of roller coaster-like bumps and jumps.
Now, it’s January, 2014 – I am supposed to be taking our Christmas tree down, but I’m looking out the window at the 3 or 4 inches of new snow we have received here in Syracuse.
“It’s probably 2 to 3 feet in Fulton,” I thought.
Addendum: Sometimes I have written about winter and snow at least as early as October – maybe September.
Oct. 6, 1981: After I stumble over the snow tires out in the garage for the fourth or fifth time, I figure that someone thinks it’s time to put them on the car. . . and when the windshield scraper finds its way out of the depth of the trunk, or wherever it has been, the end is really near.
My mind is remembering a Fulton snow storm in March of 1993, after which I was too busy shoveling snow to write a column.
But, after all, it was most likely “just another day” in Fulton’s winter story. The storm that I am remembering happened on Jeff’s birthday; the two of us spent the day shoveling snow.
Happy birthday, Jeff!
. . . Roy Hodge