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January 12, 2014

ED VASICEK: Will snowstorm supplant 1978 blizzard for severity?

Time for 'I survived winter of 2014' sweatshirts

Our region was blan-keted with a massive snow, followed by the lowest tempera-tures in more than 20 years. It has been a year for Kokomo and surrounding areas: floods, tornadoes and then the most severe winter in decades. As a result, many of us have come to appreciate the professionals we often take for granted: police, fire, emergency management, street department workers, fire and flood recovery businesses, heating repair personnel, our elected officials and non-elected city managers and personnel, linemen who restore our electricity — even neighborhood kids willing to shovel walkways for a few dollars.

Today I am going to share a little about some of the blizzards and frigid experiences I remember. Let me begin with my biggest, the Chicago Blizzard of 1967.

According to the Chicago Tribune, the storm hit Chicago on Jan. 26, 1967. Four days before, the outdoor temperature had reached 65 degrees! The snow accumulated to 23 inches, but drifts towered 6 feet high.

Fortunately where we lived, kids walked to school; we did not need to camp out in school buildings, as some did. They released us early that day. Residents made a rush to the local grocery stores for bread and milk, and it wasn’t long until supplies were depleted. On the second day, my mom sent me to the small “ma and pa” Italian bread bakery half a block away. Their business was thriving: As fast as they made the bread, they sold it to waiting customers. I walked home with a piping hot loaf of crusty Vienna-style Italian bread. It never tasted better.

The neighbor boys and I built a large fort of snow. We built snowmen, igloos, and had plenty of snowball fights with the kids in another nearby fort! It was like a trip to an amusement park — but free and seemingly endless. We were free from school for several days, without being sick!

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