Saturday, February 4, 2012

Journey of Awakening – 46: Snowed in – in Harrisburg, PA

December 1977 - Working my way toward western Pennsylvania on the Town Meeting circuit. Our team of ten volunteers was to meet up in Harrisburg, the capitol of Pennsylvania, at the home of Ellen and Dick Howie, who were expecting to put us up for a couple of nights.

The snow flurries began the week before Christmas. By the time we arrived in Harrisburg most of the highways east and north all the way to upstate New York and as far as Boston were closed. The blizzard of ’77 was upon the eastern states with all its fury.

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             Harrisburg                            Boston

Linda and Eric were stuck in Boston and I was stuck in Harrisburg. Airports were closing and even the trains were not running. So our colleagues, the Howies, were stuck with ten of us, sleeping in their living and dining room for about a week. We made due, huddling around the fireplace, singing Town Meeting songs and Christmas carols, played lots of chess and card games, and tried not to wear out our welcome. A couple of days before the New Year I was able to get a train and made it back to Boston in time to greet 1978 and find Linda with a bad case of flu. As I remember I had to walk through the as yet unplowed streets from Copley Plaza station to our house, dragging my bag through the snow. But it was good to be home.

The streets were not cleared for another eight days, which was fine because we were both recovering from sickness and Town Meeting travel. Eric, who was in fourth grade, had to take care of both of his parents. And he did so without complaining.

When I returned to Pennsylvania in the middle of January, the snow was no longer an impediment and the roads were clear. So back on the Town Meeting circuit.

The only additional memory I have of my time in Harrisburg was driving by these huge cooling towers of the Three Mile Island nuclear power generating station, unaware that in just one year this would be the scene of the worst nuclear disaster in our nation’s history and the occasion for major changes in the world’s nuclear power industry.

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The Meltdown

It always amazes me how the day-to-day focus on what is in front of us as our particular piece of the human adventure allows us to go on in the midst of impending world-altering events. Another sign of how little control we actually have over the world—or over our own lives.

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