Sunday, January 24, 2016

Winter is here, I know!

Last week, I mused in this blog if winter has arrived or not. I think the question has been answered without a shadow of a doubt. Winter is definitely here. My fingers know it, my toes know it and my power bill certainly knows it.

Northeast of here, according to the news media and the twitterverse they are calling it the “Blizzard of ’16” or the “Big Dig.” My heart goes out to my friends and family who are still digging out after Friday night and Saturday saw near record amounts of snowfall.

Around here, we had more flakes running around on television and Facebook than there were falling from the sky. That includes me, by the way proclaiming my thanks yesterday morning; “We got lucky here in the Midlands, a near miss” then a photo of blue skies taken later that afternoon. Trust me, I was not rubbing it in, but reminding my northern friends that the sun still exists and will be back in the spring. At least, that’s my story and I’m sticking with it.

“The State” Newspaper is celebrating its 125 anniversary next month with a running a series outlining the history of big events that they have covered. Today, the story was predictable; SC’s ‘Blizzard of ’73. I know they must have been holding that story in their series for this weekend.

I was working at WIS-TV that winter and we were in the middle of preparing for a major renovation of our studios and control rooms. When the snows hit we were in the process of replacing all the old cables in the system, so I was working the midnight shift where I could disconnect the equipment from the old cable system and connect it to the new while we were off the air. Yes, back in those days, television stations signed off at 1 AM and back on at 6:45 AM. If my memory serves me correctly, there were one or two nights during the storm when we stayed on all night. I can tell you that there was a bleary eyed crew that struggled with the commute to the station so that they could tell everyone else to stay at home and off the road. If it weren’t for my Karmann Ghia and shovel, I would not have made it in several times. That bright red Karmann Ghia has long faded into my automotive history, but the shovel is still in the shed out back.

I have one funny story about that snowstorm that comes to mind every winter. The time was shortly after 7 AM, and I was driving home in a moderate snowfall from the station downtown to my home in Southeast Columbia. Mine was just about the only car on the streets. I was on Millwood Avenue approaching the intersection of Devine Street. That is a complicated five point intersection. There was a stalled car on Devine Street at the intersection with a police cruiser behind it and a policeman struggling to help the motorist get going again. The light was red for me and I started to slow down. Do I stop for the light and risk making the situation worse by getting stuck myself or do I run the light right in front of a cop? I looked at the blaring red light and then locked stares with the stony faced cop. What do I do? I decided to risk it and carefully and slowly ran the light. As I passed the cop, he started jumping and cheering; celebrating that I did not make his day any worse. Whew! That was a close one. I’m not sure I would be doing that today.

My days of driving in the snow in a radio equipped news car announcing to the city that they should not be on the roads out in the snow are long past. I was glad I did that, we were performing a service to the community. But it does feel good to be sitting in my living room listening to the news teams do their thing. Kudos to you electronic warriors protecting us; as you report through chattering teeth you are making memories for your own future “war stories.” Oh MY!

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