In the Winter

Fulton, New York after a snowburst dropped 4-6...

Fulton, New York after a snowburst dropped 4-6 feet of snow over most of Oswego County between January 28–31, 2004. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I was younger I lived in an area that had a lot of snow in the winter – the snowbelt off of Lake Ontario, near Oswego, New York.

Oswego was famous for its snow then and still is today.

One weekend, 109 inches of snow fell.  That is 109 INCHES of SNOW – more than 9 feet.  People looked out of their second storey windows and were unable to get out of their homes without tunneling out.

My mother was deathly afraid of snow and as soon as one flake dropped from the sky refused to go out of the house.    Consequently, we spent a large amount of time at home in the winter.

Every winter our school would close for several days, sometimes as many as a week at a time.  I thought ” Well, this is the way it is in the winter in New York.”  That did not mean we languished indoors.  We kids would take our sleds and go sledding or  grab our skates and go to the neighbors each evening to skate on a homemade rink in their back yard.

While I was not noted for my athletic skills, I became a good skater and glided around the rink with great ease.   It was a talent hidden from my high school gym teacher, as we did not play hockey in high schools in those days, otherwise I am sure I would have impressed him.

As it was the man was sure that I was the most uncoordinated fellow to come down the pike.  In the spring he met his Waterloo with me.  Now my gym teacher had flown on B-17s during World War II.  And, I am sure his brave actions in the air, had contributed to the down fall of the Germans.  Going up against the Nazis was the easy part for him; teaching me to hit a softball was not.

The poor man— he got frustrated and yelled at me  as gym teachers and coaches often did then.  Which of course did not help my ability to hit the ball.

I think now that he would have been amazed at my skating abilities, but it was not to be.  He never knew.

Now as an adult, I know that it was only the small area of New York that we lived in that got pounded with snow each winter.  It’s what they now call “Lake Effect snow.”

I also might add that I do not live there anymore.  And that is by design.  I may be older now, but I am not crazy.

About jenorv

John E. Norvell is a retired Air Force Lt Colonel, decorated air combat veteran of the Vietnam War, and former Assistant Professor of American and Military History at the U.S. Air Force Academy. He has written freelance for the Washington Post, the Middle Tennessee Journal of Genealogy and History, and for several newspapers around the country.
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