Recollections of a Small Town
THE SNOWS OF THAT MARCH
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
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.
Dec. 22, 2006
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