Oh My God, Did I Just Jinx Myself?

I am proud to announce that out of six record-setting blizzard snowstorms that dropped over twelve inches of snow on the Chicago area, I  shoveled out of four of them.

The worst was in nineteen sixty-seven. Everyone who was alive at the time remembers that one. Many of my friends who worked downtown took three to seven days to get home. Stories about people helping people abound. Stories about the adventure of leaving a car stuck in the snow somewhere were plentiful. I got lucky on that storm. My job was in the city on forty-eighth and Halstead. Normally, it was a fifty minute drive. That Thursday morning it was snowing. There was a drift in front of my garage door that tapered out to the street sixty feet away. The drift was pretty high, so I decided to call in and tell my boss that I’d be a little late because I was going to wait a couple of hours before I began shoveling my car out. It kept snowing, and it kept snowing, and it never stopped until the next day. By early afternoon there was a nine-inch accumulation around the city. People left work early to get home. Many of them did not make it home that night. Some didn’t make it home for several days. I sat in a nice warm house watching it happen.

My neighbor, Kevin Caulfield, didn’t get home until Monday. He abandoned his car along the Outer Drive. The following Saturday, five of us armed with snow shovels, piled into a car and wove our way through the city streets to look for Kevin’s Ford. The streets were barely passible. Many places were still one lane wide. We managed to find Archer Avenue and headed toward the loop. I think we took Twenty-second street out to the Drive. The Outer Drive, Chicago’s showpiece road, was a war zone. The fire department and garbage collectors had worked feverishly to open two lanes. They cleared a section of road up to a car,  yanked the car off to the side into the clear spot,  and moved forward to the next car. There was no place to put the snow, so they piled it onto the cars they just moved. One week of labor and they had cleared a path to move in.

We scoured the area that Kevin remembered leaving his car. Eventually, he spotted the ugly green fender showing through a mountain of snow. It was his Ford. The five us worked quickly to  uncover the car. The front bumper was hanging. The snow crew yanked it off while moving it out-of-the-way. Again, the five of us managed to bend it upward so the car was drivable. We extricated the car and Kevin got it running. We followed him home to make sure he got there.

I’ve seen pictures of yesterday’s snow on the Outer Drive. They remind me of nineteen sixty-seven.

This morning, I dreaded going out to shovel (sno-blow). I procrastinated at my desk. I watched the birds play hide and seek in the evergreen shrub outside my window. Then, Mary, my neighbor across the street came out to snow-blow her drive. “Hey Peg,” I yelled. Grandma Peggy  came to see what I wanted. “Look what some wives do for their husband.”

“She’s less than half my age,” she said.

“Well, I guess it’s up to me,” I said out loud. Ten minutes later, I went at it with a vengeance. Three non-stop hours later, I had cleared a lane from the garage to the street.

I came in exhausted and very hungry. Something smelled good. I wonder what she is cooking for me. Grandma Peggy, was clearly upset. The smell turned out to be a pot of turkey soup that burned. She had been defrosting the frozen soup on a low heat and forgot about it until all the liquid had boiled out and the turkey was frying itself to the pan.

The doorbell rang. It was my son Mike and my grandson Dan. “Now you show up,” I kidded him, “It’s all done.”

“I just finished my own drive for the second time Dad, if you want , I’ll do the other half of yours.”

“Go for it,” I told him. Mike and Dan made very short work of the remaining half. They finished in forty-five minutes. Ah, to be young again. The boys didn’t stay long because they were going to his father-in-law’s house to clear another drive. I ate a sandwich and crashed. I’m beginning to feel the love all through my body. I think the muscles are sending me a message, “Don’t you DARE do that again.”

If the pattern stays on course it will be twenty years before we see another twenty-inch snow.

Oh my God, did I just jinx myself?

2 Responses

  1. Grumpa, since I just had my left hip replaced Jan. 4th, there is no snow shoveling for me. My wonderful neighbor and his 5 boys did a real fine job for me. I was on my way to Vietnam when the storm hit in 1967, so I dug foxholes rather than shovel snow. And I lived in South Bend, IN. from 1972 to 1978. The winter of 77-78, we had 210 inches of snow and the roads were closed for 5 days. I now think I have seen enough snow in my 68 years. Just don’t over feel the love.

  2. Grumpa,
    the next time you spend 3+ hours shoveling snow, I’m going to have to ground you!! I’m “feeling the love” too, so don’t feel bad. Have a peaceful night.

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