Blizzard of ’78 – 30th Anniversary

In the early morning hours of January 26th 1978, thunder woke me up. Rain was hitting our trailer hard. We lived on Trenton Ave. where the Wal-Mart store is now, at the intersection of US 224 and I-75.

At the time I was 10 years old and afraid of thunderstorms so I did my usual run to mom’s room and I crawled into bed with her. I fell asleep soon after.

That didn’t last long.

Just before dawn the roar of the wind woke both of us up. The wind banged the various loose metal pieces and trim around our windows. My mom turned on the radio and WFIN was broadcasting about a blizzard hitting Findlay. It wasn’t even 5 am and Findlay City Schools closed for the day. In fact all the schools in the county closed.

We laid there in the morning gloom listening to the radio until the power went out. Not only was the radio off but so was our propane furnace. Mom got up and filled a bucket and some empty milk jugs with water. She told me to put on some extra clothes to guard against the cold.

The roar of the wind didn’t stop. I looked out the window and saw nothing but sheets of snow.

The Great Blizzard of 1978 had arrived in Findlay.

That first day was an adventure. Mom got out our camping gear and setup the Sterno stove so she could have some coffee. We had little food in the house as the storm caught us off guard. Later in the day, when we tried to open our front door to let the dog out to pee, it was frozen shut. The rain the night before froze on the metal frame. My poor dog couldn’t go outside even if she wanted to. It took about a half hour and a butter knife to get it open. The dog went to the open door, sniffed around, and refused to go out in the wind and snow.

I had to lift her down onto the stoop and as she went into the drift around the door I only saw her snout. She was gone for only a minute and slowly made her way up the stoop. I had to reach out and lift her back into the house.

Being 10, I started to complain about being cold. Even cuddling with Mom on the couch under every blanket we owned I was still cold. Mom told me to stop thinking about it. But I couldn’t. She got up and poured me a shot of whiskey and said that it would make me feel warm. It made me sleepy. We both got into my bed and pretty much slept the rest of the day away.

The next day the power came back on so life returned to some what normal. We needed some food and the radio said that Great Scot down the road would be open for a few hours. I got out my sled and we started out for the store. Before we left the trailer park we stopped off to see our neighbors, the elderly couple Pert and Lou and found out they had a wood stove and were fine. We asked if they needed any food and Pert said he needed toilet paper for sure.

My mom and I walked the mile or so to the store. Driving was banned so dozens of people were walking to the store like we were. Some used cross country skis. There were some snowmobiles and a few 4 wheel drive trucks. The only clear spot was the middle of Broad Avenue. The store had plenty of can goods but no bread or milk. I was just happy to be out of the house.

On the way back we looked down on I-75 and there were cars and trucks abandoned on the highway. The drivers had been rescued the day before.

It took a few days and front end loaders from the National Guard before they allowed people to drive again. We were out of school for a week and I remember burning out on sledding down the hill of the US 224 I-75 interchange. I also spent a lot of time digging our car out.

The next weekend we went to McComb to visit my grandparents and the drifts along the roads were huge. At one point it was like driving through a tunnel as banks of snow towered over our car and the road.

The one thing we learned during that Blizzard was not be unprepared again. For years we stocked up on can goods during the winter months and if a storm was coming we bought extra bread and milk just in case. We also made a Blizzard box with extra blankets, candle, more Sterno, and a battery operated radio.

Toledo TV station WTOL has posted video of their newscasts on January 26th and 27th 1978 so you can see what it was like back then. The ironic thing is since our power was out we never got to see the shows when they first aired.

Blizzard of ’78 – 30th Anniversary

Flooding brings back memories

I woke on Tuesday morning (8/22/07) to news of nasty flooding in Wyandot county and Richland county. We had some nasty storms come through the day before and I noticed overnight the areas north of Columbus getting hit with a lot a rain again. So when the news was getting bad I knew my home town of Findlay would have trouble.

The Blanchard River runs from around Kenton north before turning a sharp left, then west, through Findlay and Ottawa then it empties into the Auglaize River which in turns empties into the Maumee then Lake Erie.

Then I heard the news that Carey and Arlington were evacuating people. The count down was on.

Soon flash flooding was happening in Findlay hitting areas that rarely get wet. Then the big water hit causing the river to rise to 18.5 feet matching the record 1913 flood.

Needless to say this flood was huge. Not everyday the Coast Guard is patrolling Main Street in an air-boat.

The recent flooding reminded me of other times when the Blanchard flooded. The last major flood was in 1981. Rawson Park was a large lake, most county roads were closed, and a car dealer moved his inventory to overpass on Central Parkway to escape the water.

Other times there has been minor flooding. Lye Creek that runs through the fairgrounds seems to flood every fair cutting off the northside of the fairgrounds from the southside. River St and Howard Street flood just past I-75. Miller’s Luncheonette has been flooded so many times that this time the owner didn’t even rush downtown – he knew it would be bad and there was nothing to do until the water went down.

City of Findlay aiming for long-term fixes

Iraq Solution

One only needs to turn on the news these days and hear about the chaos and sectarian strife happening in Iraq. From bombings, abductions, to outright killings, it seems that Iraq is in a state of civil war. Not to mention US troops still being killed on a daily basis. And even as President Bush and others still deny it, Iraq is one of the most unstable countries today .

On one of the e-mail discussion lists I participate, in the run up to the invasion in 2003, I had a heated debated with a pro-Bush person on the merits of invading Iraq and removing Saddam. At the time I mentioned that the British ran into a mess of trouble during their attempts to force their ideas of civics on Iraq after World War I when they had a mandate. I told my opponent that if the US invaded it would be another Vietnam and the US would muck it up. If the guy was still on the list (he was kicked off after accusing me and others of being traitors because we refused to support President Bush) I would be pleased to post the following note:

I told you so.

The reason the US will never “win” is the same reason the British never “won” back in the 1920’s. Iraq was forced together into a country. It was made up of different clans who hated each other and still do. Most are Muslim but act more like Catholic and Protestants in Northern Ireland. Each claims the other are heretics. Then you have the Kurds in the north who are as different as night and day to the Sunnis and Shiites.

There is a good overview of the British occupation of Iraq in 1917 that gives some uncanny parallels to the US invasion in 2003. Here is quote:

Within six months, Britain was fighting a military insurrection in Iraq and David Lloyd George, the prime minister, was facing calls for a military withdrawal. “Is it not for the benefit of the people of that country that it should be governed so as to enable them to develop this land which has been withered and shrivelled up by oppression? What would happen if we withdrew?” Lloyd George would not abandon Iraq to “anarchy and confusion”. By this stage, British officials in Baghdad were blaming the violence on “local political agitation, originated outside Iraq”, suggesting that Syria might be involved.

Come again? Could history repeat itself so perfectly? For Lloyd George’s “anarchy”, read any statement from the American occupation power warning of “civil war” in the event of a Western withdrawal. For Syria – well, read Syria.

Iraq, 1917

So what is the solution?

The only real solution is to let Iraq devolve into clan areas. That’s right. Iraq, as a country, should go away and be replaced with the areas that existed prior to World War I. Each area would be controlled by either the Kurds, the Sunnis, or the Shiites.

They each want to control Iraq so if you remove the country then you take away their reason for violence.

Want to revisit the past?

Have I got a deal for you.

Since I have no social life, I had time to put together and open a message board dedicated to the 1970’s and 1980’s culture.

Yes, my friends, if you miss the gas crunch, President Reagan, disco, Rubik’s Cube, bell bottoms, The Cure, YES, or the host of movies and TV shows from the 70’s and 80’s then Our Generationis for you.

Some people don’t want to relive the past and that’s ok, but haven’t you once wondered “Whatever happened to Rodney Allen Rippy?”

Did you want to know why leg warmers and sweat bands were popular in the 1980’s? Or why the 3 Mile Island melt down was so scary?

Our Generation is for those us who came of age or who can’t remember the 1970’s and 1980’s.

It is our past, it is our generation.

Well Christmas time is here

It is the time of year when people shop till they drop or indulge until they pass out from all the food and drink. It is a time to hang out with the family even when they hate you on the other days of the year.

One of my favorite Christmas activities is watching the classic Christmas cartoon specials on TV. Most were produced in the mid to late 1960’s but even 40 years on they haven’t really become dated.

My favorite of the bunch is “A Charlie Brown Christmas”. From the lame tree Charlie buys, to the hip jazz music from Vince Guaraldi, I love the show.

There is a point near the end where a frustrated Charlie shouts about being told what the real meaning of Christmas is. He is mad at the crass commercialism of the holiday represented by Snoopy winning the decoration contest. Linus then recites the Christmas story from the Bible and peace is restored.

Actually Christmas has little to do with the birth in the manger 2000 years ago and never has. The holiday is a collection of religious and non-religious mid-winter celebrations.

You have your winter solstice – used to mark the deep of winter and hope for the coming spring which included putting evergreen trees inside your house. Then you have “Wassailing” – an early version of trick or treat, with drunken singers banging on doors, demanding food, drink, or money in exchange for going away. The part that included the birth of Jesus was added by the Romans to replace the pagan celebrations of the time.

The debauchery got so prevalent that when Puritan Oliver Cromwell became dictator of the UK, he outlawed Christmas. Puritans in Massachusetts banned Christmas observances in 1659.

It wasn’t until 1822 that the Christmas in the form that we know it was introduced. That form is Santa Claus and crass commercialism.

So Linus was wrong. Happy Xmas!