It is not news that monstrous storms have hit the snow belt states and beyond hard, fast and furious. They bring severe cold, record snow falls, closed schools, disrupted daily routines, cabin fever and yearning for the spring thaw. Presently traveling in the deep south, heading toward summer-like weather in Arizona does not mean I lack empathy for my friends and families in the hard hit regions. But, I must say, it has jogged my memories of snow banks reaching over the top of windows and doorways, snow banks covering driveways and sidewalks and the trials of coping during and after a sundry of storms endured in my lifetime.
As a teenager, I held many all-season jobs beginning the day I obtained my work permit. One of the first was at Fromers a somewhat upscale 5 and 10 cent store, 2.5 miles from my house. It must have been the winter season of 1959-60, my senior year. Snow fell for what seemed like days. Six foot high snow banks lined the sides of the main street leading to Fromers and the shopping area. Everything was closed, or so we were told on the news. The phone rang, My boss Ed was on the other end, Ann Carol, I need you to come into work today. We are open.
No memories of my preparation linger, except the vivid memory of myself, bundled in winter gear to the hilt, bowing into the wind atop the 6′ hard-packed snow bank-cum sidewalk, plowing my way toward the store. It must have been safer to walk atop the “glacier” than in the street with the plows, or just the adventure loving teen ager huddling against the wind. Ed was at the doorway, grateful to see me, His left side glass eye was brilliant that day, looking truly glassy (as it was), larger and darker brown than his natural eye. I stood all day behind the cash register, occasionally stopping to arrange shelves or stock a shelf or case. Ed and I ate our packed lunches together, served perhaps two brave customers, walking from their nearby homes, talked about the storms, my future plans, music, his young kids, store merchandise and managing a business and his living with an obvious “handicap.” In today’s world, it would not be so obvious). We had breached the subject before but never in depth.
I do not recall the cause of his lost eye, but he faced it in an upbeat, humorous manner. It was one of my first poignant opportunities learning about living with an in your face affliction, be it physical, a loss of a sense, race, mental illness and more that persons face often alone and lonely. He told about people avoiding looking him “in the eye,” even avoiding contact with him. or making a comment that always comes out wrong. It is a different world now, but still full of angst for both the victim and the onlooker marked by action such as avoidance, a show of empathy-sincere or false, and all of the aberrations that are described by people with a difference.
My work days were valuable as a teaching agent to a teenager trying to make sense of the world. I believe I learned about tolerance, developed good work habits and flexibility and skills, strengthened my love for people and often think of the man named Ed and his brief influence on my life, probably unbeknownst to him.
To those enduring these stormy days, there is an upside; valuable family time together, learning to improvise and adapt and rise to the occasion as survivors of hardship do. Perhaps my hike on the high banks were the laugh in the face of mother nature. I remember smiling to myself and feeling 10 feet tall for a few moments in my life. My best to all of you.
Feb 2015 snow fall in Marfa, Tx after several days in Big Bend in sunshine and 80F. Snow on our Motor home happens every year someplace.