-Art's Art-
Recollections of a Small Town Boy


            A ridge of the mountains to the north did not protect us from snow that March of 1965. The first fall was on the first Wednesday. The second was on the second Wednesday. Temperatures rose to the thirties by day and fell to low twenties after dark. One snow welcomed the next. 

            Very well, that was unusual but did not set a pattern. There was clear weather the next Wednesday. There was no snow until Friday. 

            By this time, several events had occurred. Ice on tree limbs and power lines were causing outages all over. City crews worked long and hard to restore what they could when they could. The mayor left home to escape abusive callers. He spent a night and a day with utilities crews. Language of ordinarily mild clerks and bookkeepers would astound citizens who never held a public office and heard it on the telephone. 

            At our house there was no help from the monster boiler in the basement. No spark to ignite oil fire, no steam to those pretty radiators in upstairs rooms. We reverted to old ways, rather adroitly I think. A large fireplace in one downstairs room furnished heat and a bit of light—so long as I could find wood enough to feed the hungry beast.

            The fourth Wednesday of that March caused renewed wonder about patterns. On that day we got the last of the snows of March and indeed of the season. “That March” needed no explanation for years after.

            It also brought fun opportunities for the young and young at heart. When Mr. Harbison, our neighbor across the road enticed sledders with an offer to tow them back to the top with his pickup truck I signed up right along with the certified young. My blessed wife stayed in with our youngest and made cocoa for the frigid snowbirds who stopped in to warm extremities and use the facility. I expect she was also rehearsing her speech to idiots who took children out and brought them back bruised and scratched and half frozen.

            It was a hell of a mess but what fun. We had electric service long before I got the furnace going again. It was a simple matter of pushing a reset button hidden away on the back of the furnace. I finally cajoled an electrician to come out. He pushed the button, the furnace roared to life and he gave me a pitying look when he wrote the bill.

            We let the hearth burn itself out. A casualty of too much heat was a set of ornate andirons not made for actual service apparently. One was hideously warped. The other not only warped but cracked into pieces. I would not wonder if the linemen, firemen and the mayor felt that way also.

Art Darwin
Dec. 22, 2006   

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