Before the record blizzard of ’06 disappears into the murk of history, I want to let everyone know that I’m alive and well. One friend out West, hearing about “da big blow,” messaged me: “I hope you’re comfortably dug in for the duration. Thass lotsa white stuff. Coraggio!”
Yes, it took lotsa coraggio to survive without a dent. But I was so dug in I hadda watch the Weather Channel to find out it was snowing. And then I saw this day-after photo of Times Square, left.
Well, I thought it was Times Square until another friend who lives in Brooklyn messaged that he’d taken it last night at 6:15 p.m. in Prospect Park, not far from his Park Slope apartment. When I asked him, “Where are the crowds?,” he admitted he hadn’t taken the picture himself, but had grabbed it from an online source.
“It’s not actually Times Square,” he said. “But it does show a park, out West somewhere. In this age of memoirs that’s close enough, isn’t it?” And anyway, he’d been over to Prospect Park to witness the scene. “It was quite manageable,” he said. “I saw a few sledders and a handful of skiers.”
In fact, there were more than a few cross-country skiers out on the street, like the one, below, on First Avenue in Manhattan’s East Village. Yesterday I saw a skier myself. Not on the slopes. On the subway. Not on skis, but in full regalia carrying her skis. Apparently she was on her way to Central Park.
By the way, everybody noticed how manageable the blizzard of ’06 has been. “Even as the snow fell, and fell and fell, late Saturday and throughout Sunday, it never felt like the end of the world,” Andy Newman wrote in this morning’s front-page story, “As Monsters Go, This Storm Had a Lighter Tread.”
Unlike the blizzard of ’47, which held the city’s snowfall record of 26.4 inches until this weekend’s blow topped out at 26.9 inches.
“In those days many one- and two-story houses were heated with fuel oil,” another friend recalled, describing his childhood experience in ’47. “They still are. In our case it was Paragon that supplied us. Well, it turned out the oil was low.”
My grandfather usually took care of that sort of thing. But suddenly on this day there was no fuel, no oil, no heat. Somehow my grandparents took off for my aunt and uncle’s apartment a few miles away; a place with HEAT in a large apartment complex. My Dad went to stay with his cousins so that he could get to work early in the morning. The rest of us — mother, brother and little me, we intrepid few — bundled up and went to sleep with the last dregs of some warmth still in the house.
Morning was cold, really cold, not merely “really” cold but so cold that getting out of bed was entirely out of the question — till force overcame my resolve (or inertia, which may be the same thing). Ultimately, bundled and freezing, we set forth for the main street, Morris Avenue, and started looking for transportation, indeed, even a cab. (You needed to be dying before you took a cab!)
I was about to lie down and face the big sleep. But 5 or 6 blocks later, a miracle! A cab! It stopped and took us past Yankee Stadium, up the big hill to my Dad’s cousins who had another miracle waiting for us. Three miracles, in fact: Shelter! Warmth! Food!
This friend of mine no longer lives in New York City. He has chosen to live where snow is not allowed and where miracles are a daily occurence. “As Scarlett once said,” he says, “I’ll never, never, freeze my butt off again!” He lives in Beverly Hills.