No. 7, March 1975, snow days and snow tunnels. Some of my all-time life weather events are easy to recall because there’s a written record. That’s why No. 10 and No. 9 were more difficult to summarize: no newspaper account, no diary.
That’s right. I said “diary.” I never called it that, though. What 12-year-old boy says he has a “diary?” That’s a girl thing, right? My little black book was no less important to me than the detailed journal entries written by Lewis and Clark. I began recording my adventures and exploration the summer that I turned 10.
No doubt that leads you to an inescapable conclusion: I’ve been a nerd a long, long time. (I also have a day-by-day, class hour-by-class hour account of all four years of high school).
The week of snow in March 1975 produced the most perfect “snowman snow” in the history of my life, with the exception of weather event No. 2 (hint), but I was 20 when that happened, which means I didn’t exactly enjoy the snow. But in 1975 …
I lived around some incredibly dangerous hazards at the corner of Shockley and Swanson streets in Belle, Mo. Less than a hundred feet from my bedroom window, the Rock Island railroad tracks rumbled along, offering adventure and excitement. It was dangerous, sure, but the tracks were so dilapidated that the trains didn’t exactly speed by so fast that they’d catch you off-guard. In the field beyond the tracks were some of the slick-bank, sickly deep claypits that dotted the landscape of Maries and Osage counties. We lost classmates and schoolmates to drowning in some of those pits. We stayed off and away from the water. But the claypiles that surrounded the pits offered the most unusual fossils I ever found. Fellow explorer/paleontologist Jeff Roberts found a trilobite fossil. (Trilobite, below). Jeff was revered for his find.
Now take that railroad bed and the claypits, add 15 inches of heavy, wet snow, cancel school for a week … If you’re 11 1/2 years old, that’s basically Heaven. (And there was much rejoicing.)
The blizzard we had here two weeks ago dumped dry, blowing snow. Twenty inches of it, but not much good for building snowmen until the temperature rose a bit. Snow needs moisture for the construction of forts, igloos, tunnels and, yes, snowmen. The thick, heavy blanket that fell in March ’75 was all that and more. One reason it was such a wet snow was that the temperature didn’t get much below 30 degrees. My pals and I had the best sledding paths of our lives on the claypits. Two of the paths were actually top-to-bottom tunnels; one was enough for a sled, the other more of a chute to quickly deliver a boy to the bottom. It took the first half of our snowy no-school week to build them.
The shallow ditches along the railroad tracks had the best drifts ever. We built an enormous tunnel where we could watch the train chug past. The only tragedy of the week was my friend’s little Dachshund puppy, Fritz, who couldn’t find us as we all screamed for him to get off the railroad track and into the tunnel. He didn’t make it.
Ready for some more snow stories?