Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Worst Winter Ever

It was the worst of winters. It was the best of winters.

The worst winter I ever experienced turned out to be one I have the fondest memories of and best stories about. It was 1977 in Pennsylvania. I lived in Boston, or at least the rest of my family did, and that was the address on my driver’s license—27 Dartmouth, Boston, Mass.

I was on the road that year all but seven weeks. The blizzard hit Pennsylvania like a fast freight train roaring by in the middle of the night. Only it stopped and dropped 3 feet of snow before moving on. I was snowed in for 2 weeks in Harrisburg. I couldn’t even get a train out to be home for Christmas. My host, one of our organization’s volunteers, put 10 of us up for 2 weeks.

The most “fun” that winter was a trip I made from Pittsburgh when I thought the storm had passed. I was on I-80 on the way to Snow Shoe, PA, when I began to snow again. The borrowed Nash had windshield wipers that didn’t work. I spent the next two hours reaching out the driver’s side window to grab the wiper blade to keep the snow off. I made it to Snow Shoe to find a group of townspeople waiting for the scheduled meeting I had arranged. The mayor let me know that a little dusting of snow like this would never stop them from meeting.

But it was the Harrisburg Christmas that taught me it was possible to bond with a dozen strangers, many of whom I’ve not seen again.

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