As I watched the television screen today I marveled that, even with the grip of winter upon mid-Michigan, we still have not been challenged as much as central and eastern New York where I grew up. I found myself reflecting on my first escape from winter on my own.
It was in January 1950. I was working as the 'morning man' on a radio station in Hudson, New York. I had to drive fifteen miles each way from my home in the hills and it was a real challenge at times making it on the air at normal sign-on time. To me the most important part of my job was letting people know what schools were closed and various road conditions. One time the roads were badly iced over but I still got to work on time and beat the station engineer and had to power-up the transmitter without him. I loved the job but did not appreciate the ordeal of winter driving back and forth to work. So I began to send out resumes and 'demo discs' to stations all over the country. I finally was offered a morning position on an NBC station in Orlando, Florida.
With a deep sense of apprehension, I boarded a train out of New York City and headed into the unknown. After a long, restless night on a train coach a very tired young man finally arrived in Orlando. I was totally unaware of what waited for me.
I got off the train and it was warm. The trees had leaves on them. Most of all, it was an amazing experience to disembark to breathe air saturated with the smell of orange blossoms. I'd smelled apple blossoms in the north but I had never smelled anything so pungent - that so saturated the air. What a contrast with what I had left behind in the northland.
It's little wonder, when the weather is at its worst up north that I find myself, especially in January, thinking about that first experience of orange blossoms and warmth in mid-winter.
I'll be writing from time to time about my experiences in the south. Perhaps a bit about my conversion from Yankee to Floridian. Stay tuned - you'll never know what I'll come up with next.