Saturday, October 10, 2009

Blizzard of Oz?

No, it was the Blizzard of '79. Remember it?

Where I live now, in North Carolina, schools are shut down at the hint of snow. I'm not kidding. Not actual snow. The whole city shuts down at actual snow. No, what I'm talking about is the likelihood of snow.

Which brings me to Chicago. January 13-14, 1979. I was thirteen and in the eighth grade. Our family was living in the condos near Reavis. Two things I remember: the difficulty of opening the doors to get outside, and all the cars in the parking lot entombed in snow. Everyone was out with a shovel, digging. Digging a path. Digging for their cars. Why, I wonder now. Did we go anywhere? Could we go anywhere? I don't remember.

Our faithful reader, Paul Wrubel, sent this photo. He writes, "If you walk 4 houses to the left, you'd be on Ford City Drive." I believe he's the one dangling upside-down.

What are your memories of the great blizzard? (I'm sure no one ever asked Michael Bilandic, Chicago's 49th mayor, this question. He pretty much lost his job because of the blizzard.)


Scott Smith said...

That was the year my family moved from Mission Viejo, California to Lake Villa, Illinois. My father drove our Plymouth Duster from California to Illinois that week.

Months later (April I think) the snow was still there when the rest of us moved here. We stayed at a corporate apartment complex, and men were clearing snow from its flat roof. I'd never seen anything like it.

It seemed like it stopped snowing in northern Illinois in the 80's. All we got was cold, real cold.

Scott Batzel said...

Lots of memories...

I remember my friend Ron Kroll sleeping over that night. He was supposed to take the entrance exam at St. Laurence High School the next day but it was cancelled on account of the snow.

I remember the snowbanks were so high on either side of our driveway that our Toro snowblower couldn't loft the snow high enough to clear them and thus was useless.

I remember the snow was piled so high near our street from the snowplows that my next-door neighbor Don Ithal and I dug into the heap to hollow out an igloo. We could almost stand up inside it! It lasted over a month before collapsing.

I remember there was a hugh snow hill at Maddock School from the plows clearing the teachers' parking lot. After class we would all climb up and slide down it. One day I slid down and one of the Bronzell kids let his trumpet case go right after me. It slid down and hit me in the bridge of my nose. I had a big bump on my schnoz for a month afterwards.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting that John. After a while we landed in the same spot a few too many times. The last time I hit it, the snow was pretty well packed. When I hit, I felt like Bluto did when he fell backwards off the ladder in "Animal House".

I hate snow now.

P. Wrubel

P.S. The other guy in the photo was me beast friend, Greg Morf.

Robinson said...

I didn't grow up in Illinois, but I remember the Blizzard. It was a good year for sledding. We always built a huge... I guess you'd call it a toboggan run (really curvy with big walls of snow to keep you on the path and jugs of water hauled from the house to make it run fast). But we didn't ride down it on toboggans. We rode down it on "saucers." Remember those?

Pete said...

The weird thing about that winter was that not only did we get a LOT of snow (over 100 inches, I think) but it also barely ever got above freezing, so instead of melting away now and then the snow just kept piling up. I remember my dad having to shovel off the roof several times (once even with a snowblower), and the snow was piled so high that you could step right from the snow drift onto our roof. And the snow piles were so tall on each side of the driveway that when shoveling it was almost impossible to fling more snow up there.

LK said...

This blog is so friggen awesome because most people you meet on the internet don't live on "da South Side". I lived near Marquette Park (parents STILL there. God knows why; near Lawndale and 66th street). I remember my dad shoveling the entire big garage apron by himself by hand. The hill was all the way to the roof of the garage. So what does a little girl do? Grab that sled when he's not looking, climb up the hill, get up on that roof, and slide down. He let me do it once then yelled at me when I went back up. Never give a kid a taste of adventure and pull it away from them.

Anonymous said...

my brother Mike jumping off our roof into the piles of snow! I didn't..I was a chicken..but still..I was jealous!

Karen Staley (Hey John!)