The Blizzard of 1978 spoiled me. Two weeks of below-zero temperatures, arctic wind and somewhere between a buttload and a metric ton of snow was a dream for northeastern Ohio kids.
The result was an extra two weeks off from school. Snow drifts in some place were higher than cars. Trying to drive anywhere was ill-advised. All we could do we stay home and go sledding like it was our job.
When we finally were able to dig out and get to the big city, the snow plowed from the Saybrook Plaza parking lot made for a mountain of fun facing Route 20. I’m pretty sure I brought a sled when on a couple of those shopping trips to Hill’s Department Store.
If you needed to warm up, you could go in and wait your turn to try out the Atari or Intellivision video-game consoles, if the middle-aged guys would ever let you have a turn.
Good — actually great — times, if you were 10 or 11 years old.
Everything after the Blizzard of ‘78 simply failed to measure up to that standard. How could it?
The only other winter storm I recall in detail happened in mid-March 1993. I was living in New Lyme then and we got so much snow that I couldn’t get out of the driveway, much less make it to my shop, which was then The Meadville Tribune. To this day, that is the only time I missed work because of weather.
Now we get a forecast of 3-4 inches of snow and grocery-store shelves quickly become as barren as the University of Michigan’s football trophy case. It seems like people are afraid they’ll never get milk, bread and toilet paper ever again.
But it doesn’t take much wind and snow to turn Route 11 into an extended game of “Am I on the road or not?” That’s a game I’ve already played too often this winter. That includes a Christmas Eve drive that took the better part of two hours.
So I’m no longer looking forward to another Blizzard of ‘78. As Danny Glover’s character said repeatedly in the “Lethal Weapon” movies: “I’m too old for this [stuff].”
As a lifelong northeastern Ohio resident, it takes a lot of cold to knock me down. Anything above 20 degrees and I might not even bother wearing a coat. It’s usually in the car, on stand-by if I slide off Route 11 and become hopelessly lodged in a snowdrift. But when it gets into the teens or single-digits, my mind starts to wander ... to Arizona or Florida.
I’ve been to Arizona four times over the years, including three trips to cover Ohio State bowl games and once on a family vacation. There is nothing like Christmas in Scottsdale. No snow? No problem.
Of course, it can be 110 in the shade in July out there. But I’d prefer the dry heat of the desert to Florida’s humidity, bugs and alligators. But playing golf in February — even in Florida — sounds pretty good compared to being cut in half by frigid wind. pelted with freezing rain and buried in lake-effect snow.
Two weeks straight of sub-zero cold and non-stop sledding was great in 1978. But I’ve outgrown it.
If I tried sledding now, I’d probably break something. And I do enough slipping and sliding on the barren wasteland of Route 11. And speaking of that, it’s time to dig out my car.
ED PUSKAS is Editor of the Star Beacon. Write him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter, @Ed_Puskas.