Thursday, January 04, 2007

Winter of 67

Hard to believe, now, that forty years have passed.
In the fall of 1966 we’d had some seriously wierd weather. I remember a bonfire in late november, a snowstorm that followed, and a late indian summer that uncovered the ashes of the bonfire in a single day, from six inches of snow.
My walk to the schoolbus was only half a block at that time; I didn’t start walking uphill for three miles to school until I was in my teens. So the snow that flurried around my buckle-on galoshes and made me pull my parka tighter was never much of an inconvenience, and in fact, the school bus shelter (built by the parents of the neighborhood) was good shelter from the wind.
So nobody expected that January storm. Weather radar wasn’t shit then. When 23 inches fell practically overnight, it paralyzed Chicago for ages.
Now, we were one of those “survivalist” families you read about. Well, not really- Mom & dad had both lived through the worst of the Depression, and had learned to save and store. Mom canned vegetables, put up fruit, dad filled the freezer with rabbit and quail and pheseant. We bought sides of beef at a time. We bought canned goods by the pickuptruckload. So, Dad got home at noon, before the storm started, and I was already home, mom and sis were at home. We sat and watched it storm.
In the morning, snowdrifts covered the yard, some as high as the roof. Dad clambered up onto the roof to make sure the furnace chimney was clear. We started shovelling.
Dad and the neighbors worked together to clear everyone’s driveways, and keep them clear when the snowplows eventuqally came, which wasn’t for several days. I busied myself clearing our front walk, which frankly, wasn’t such a big deal. Nobody was going out on it anyway. So I started working on the piles of snow still left on the driveway below the raised walk. Gary miller, my next door neighbor, was on the sidewalk using a spade- and we managed to spin and connect at the exact same time.
The spade cut my right eyelid just about off. It was hanging by a thread. My eye was miraculously unhurt. My mother fainted.
Gary’s mom, a registered nurse at a local hospital, wiped off the blood, squished me up against their dining table with her huge mammaries, and butterfly-taped the tiny eyelid back together as meticulously as you can imagine. To this day, i don’t have a scar to speak of. She took a can of Welches frozen grape concentrate and told me to jhold it against my head.
I wasn’t allowed outside the rest of the duration of the snowed-in week. Pissed me off, I could see the neighbor kids all out there building snow tunnels and caves and igloos big enough to park cars in, and i was stuck inside wearing PJ’s and watching Captain kangaroo. I haven’t yet forgiven Gary for that.
People who lived in the area, got any memories of 67?