Wednesday, January 29, 2014


My good half and I have done a pretty good job of agreeing over the years. Oh, we have our own little quirks but we have, for the most part, reasoned things out together. However, one thing we don't agree on is winter. Like our youngest daughter, I tend to like chilly, snowy weather. Joyce hates winter.
I didn't always feel this way, especially when I had to get up early and drive some distance to and from work n snow and particularly on icy roads.
I remember a time in St. Louis when we were heading home and the roads were slick, even the Interstate highways. Fortunately, there wasn't much traffic but what traffic there was moved pretty fast. Fast enough, in fact, that cars went by us as if there were no problem.  One went by us like a shot, only to start a skid a short distance ahead of us. Just driving steadily we saw the other car slide into the passing lane, still rotating, and in the rear view mirror I saw the car slide back into our lane slide off into the ditch. A miracle perhaps, but by using bit of caution and a prayer or three we got home safely.
There was another incident when I made it back to our town in a snowstorm and confidently headed up the fairly steep hill to our home. Not far up the hill I lost  traction and the wheels started spinning.
I stopped for a moment, then suddenly the car whipped around and of its own accord headed back down the hill. Fortunately, there was an alternate route to the house and, shaken a bit, made it home with no other problem.
But the incident I remember most clearly was in 1945. I had driven some distance in my fathers 1941 Studebaker Champion to pick up a date. Heading up the highway from her home on a snowy road we chattered when suddenly a wheel dropped off the pavement causing the car to lurch. The car spun, missing highway guard rails to the left and ended up in the ditch facing in the opposite direction. I couldn't see anything out the driver's side window, snow was piled to the car roof.  (Like the car in the picture.) All I can remember saying, with a blank expression on my face, "Well, we're here!"
Deep in the snow bank, the car engine had stalled, but amazingly started as if nothing had happened.
Hesitantly, I pushed in the clutch, put the car in gear, said a prayer or two, and gunned the engine and the car pulled out of the snowbank as if nothing had happened. Thank goodness for old-fashioned recapped knobby times that worked better than I had expected.
Things happen. And I drive a little more cautiously. Especially on slick roads. Who cares what that young guy thinks of that ancient driver who's just poking along.  After all, using a bit of caution is not such a bad idea. And Joyce agrees.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

slippy -slidy (on your heinie)

I was a child once. One or another of my relatives say that sometimes I revert to a kid again, but the body assures that there's a lot of wear and tear that reduces my ability to play in the snow like I did
seventy or so years - but the yen to 'play' remains. And the memories.
With the Olympics nearing, with bobsled and luge races, I'm reminded of my bobsled days. Somewhere we got a huge bobsled - nothing more than a very heavy plank with primitive runners.
There was no brake, and none of the aerodynamic body visible with current sleds. Actually, it resembled an eight person luge in its simplicity and had moveable runners in the front that were moved with a piece of clothesline rope. It worked reasonably well until the rope got wet, frozen, and brittle  and broke under tension. The ride, at that point became perilous frequently ended deep in a snowdrift with the six or seven passengers scattered along the road, or in the drift with the bobsled
It was a thrill a minute, especially when a sledding crew came around a turn of the road to discover a car trying to make it up the hill. But cars often were godsends because drivers sometimes took pity on the sledders and towed the very heavy bobsled up the hill for us.
Many years went past.  Settled into parenthood, I began to have qualms about winter. I had to face snow and ice getting to work. Winter was not as much fun any more but the children loved it. Like so many families, we lived from payday to payday and didn't have much for things like sleds. But the kids begged and pleaded for something to use in the snow. I didn't have a garbage can lid that could be adapted to sliding, nor did we have any tire tubes that would work. Then the idea hit: there's some lumber and hardware in the basement; I'll make sled. I used a wide board for the bed and made runners out of two-by fours clad with the remains of tin cans from the kitchen. Again, clothesline worked to steer the cumbersome sled. It was heavy - very heavy - and took most of the kids and me to pull it to the top of the hill. It did work, but took almost more effort than it was worth, and was left
behind when we made our next move.
As the years past, I graduated to things like toboggans and skis. I hated the thought of jumping but thrived on down hill racing. As time has gone by all I have left is memories. Oh, I still like to bundle up and announce to my better half that I'm going out to play in the snow. Then she gives me one of those looks as if to say, "Act your age, old guy." So I give her one of my looks, take my coat, gloves, and fuzzy snow bonnet off, and head for the heated recliner, sigh, and think to myself, where has all the fun of childhood gone?

Tuesday, January 7, 2014


    I have to confess that as a United Methodist I tend to move in a bit different theological direction from my Baptist friends but I have to admit that the folks at South End Baptist Church have a point
with their church sign. Even their welcome line is covered with snow and I have a hunch they are saying, "Enough, Enough!" Around this corner of Michigan we are ready for some mid-thirty temps
to warm things up. The TV stations are saying it's the worst winter in decades and maybe it is.

    But I'm far enough along in years to remember some winter storms that were challenging in their own right. In my later elementary school years I attended a two room school - one with 1st through 4th grades, the other with 5th through 8th grade (the room I was in for four years where we moved back a row each time we were promoted, and out the door when we finished the 8th grade.) I walked to school a mile each way no matter what the weather. I made it to school and back every day except when we were snowbound and even the big Oshkosh tank-tread snow plow didn't make it up our hill.
The only way we made it outside our house was on snowshoes and like I said, it was a mile to town.

There was another time when I was in the National Guard in Massachusetts that we  had a crippling January ice and snow storm that turned out to be designated a disaster and I was on guard duty at a ice-threatened river bridge and we had icy snow and heavy snow with terrible wind. The Salvation Army came around every half hour or so with warm gloves and coffee.

In more recent years I was assigned to a four-church parish in northwest Indiana. It seems unbelievable that we had major snowstorms at the end of every week that meant cancelling services four successive weeks in a row - even the church next to the parsonage and it was alongside a major highway. Church members couldn't make it in from the farm roads, and I couldn't get to their homes and even to town for some time. When the weather finally let up we headed out for one of our more remote churches and the snow piles along the road were half again or twice as high as the car. To top that off, The roads were plowed only in one lane - fortunately we didn't meet anyone coming toward us - one or the other would have had to back up to a  driveway - and there were precious few of them that were plowed.

During the mid-1980's we were serving at a mid-Indiana church and scheduled a vacation in January.
It was a great time to go but a day or two after we got back we were assaulted by another major snow storm. Joyce was working in an office in a city an hour away and the weather got worse and worse. So bad, in fact, that it was a week before she got back to work and the driving even then was hazardous. Fact is, it was several days before we could even get into our town.

So, I guess  our storms through December and thus far in January I can say to those around us,
"been there - contended with that before." Those who have to make their way to  work have my sympathy. I am glad to be retired, especially when we have snow up to our windows and the thermometer is hovering around the zero mark.

But I still say, to the weather powers that be: "Enough is Enough!" And if I  were still serving a church I wonder what I would put on a signboard in times like this? It's a bit dated, but how about "Snow, Snow, Go away.........Come again another 2025."