Vincent Safuto’s Weblog

Notes and observations

The biggest weather disappointment ever

The recent snow-mageddon in New York City brought back memories of another holiday season when a giant snowfall was predicted.

It was back in the mid-1970s, and I believe that I was in seventh to 10th grade (most likely seventh or eighth) when the holiday season was coming to an end.

This year, the schoolkids have a barrier of a day before everything starts up again in school, but I think that year New Year’s Day fell on a Friday, so we had a whole weekend of fun before the grind began again.

The Christmas season had been good, and I had really enjoyed the time off, but the hours were ticking down to the end of vacation, but there was hope in the air. The family would gather to watch Channel 7, Eyewitness News, every night, and the story was that we were about to get hit with one hell of a snowstorm on Sunday night. I was already getting a little down at the prospect of going back to school, but this promised hope of an extra day off, and snow to boot.

It just seems like in the 1970s we never had a really cool snowstorm or blizzard. Back then, there was of course no Internet so all there was to do was go out, have snowball fights with friends, construct snow forts and explore the suddenly snow-covered streets. Of course, there was the fear of being ambushed by snowball wielding kids, but this was a time when risk was accepted and people weren’t arrested for throwing snowballs. Ah, a simpler time.

It was a delicious prospect, except of course for my parents, that we’d have this Monday off. On the news at 6 p.m., the heavy snow warning went out and the city was gearing up for a snow emergency that would be the mother of all snow emergencies. “Heavy snow warning,” my brother Patrick declared, and my parents quailed at the prospect.

I went to bed that night secure in the knowledge that the next day would present me with a snow-covered wonderland on 80th Street in Elmhurst, Queens, and drifted to sleep planning my extra day of freedom.

The next morning I awoke and eagerly opened the shade to see the wonders of winter and saw … a gray, wet, rainy morning. A car went past, spray kicking up from its tires. In my memory, everything is gray, the sky, the ground, and even the spray kicked up by the passing bus. People who were out and about carried umbrellas and rainy-weather gear.

I was crushed. I thought everything said on Eyewitness News – and especially anything said by the weatherman, Tex Antoine (pre-drunken comment on live TV that got him nearly beaten up by Roger Grimsby and canned) – was the absolute truth you could take to the bank. Yet I was looking out on a scene that is my strongest memory of that time.

My parents had that smug look on their faces as they marched me, Patrick and Robert through the morning rituals. Overnight, the storm had changed course and the northern suburbs got hit hard with my snow. I saddled up and headed out, joining my fellow students in the trudge through the drizzle to school where, defeated by fate, we commenced advancing our teachers’ careers again.

I’d like to say the trauma of all this led me to a life of drugs, alcohol and dissipation, but I rolled with the punches and developed a good life. Here in Florida, sometimes I miss those big snowstorms that did arrive as predicted and the anticipation that preceded them. Sure, the snow eventually turned to gray slush and cars would splash you with it, and you’d mutter bad words, but for a time, it seemed like the world had changed to something pretty and enjoyable, and there was fun and a holiday atmosphere in the air.

All I can say is, hang in there kids, and hope for another snowstorm.

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December 31, 2010 - Posted by | Life lessons, Living in the modern age | , , , , , , , , ,

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