‘Happiest/Scaredest I’ve Been'; My Memories of Chicago Blizzard of January ’67
About this time every year, the topic of "Great Blizzards" comes up. For Michiganders, the two blizzards of the late 1970's get people waxing poetic about how much snow there was, etc.
23 Inches in 29 Hours
For me, growing up on the other side of the Lake, well, the term "hold my beer" hadn't been invented yet, but it would apply here. Between Thursday morning, January 26th and midday Friday, January 27th, we got two feet of snow in 29 hours.
"No cars could get moved until the plows came through. And no plows could get through."
If you're not a weather person, here's what happened in layman's terms. A snow storm cloud stopped over the city of Chicago and didn't move for over a day. And it just kept snowing. And snowing. And snowing. (You catch my drift. Oh, you see what I did there.) That paired with 53 mph wind gusts and 6 foot drifts. The city was paralyzed.
The Best of Times
It's was the best of times because I was in grade school, and we didn't have all that many snow days. I think we had a week's worth after this blizzard. You know the snow suit that Ralphie's brother Randy wore in A Christmas Story. We all had those, but I don't remember feeling like the Michelin Man. But I do remember that there was too much snow to do anything like sledding. The snow was so high, it was like climbing mountains. Cold, wet mountains of snow.
The Worst of Times
The city was paralyzed. According to a History Channel documentary, upwards of 50,000 cars and 1,100 buses were abandoned. People couldn't drive their cars, so they just left them. Buses couldn't get around the cars or the snow.
The scariest part for 9 year old me
Trains were still running. My mother managed to get home early from work on Thursday afternoon. So she's sent me out with a shovel to make a path from the house to our detached garage by the alley. The snow was about six feet high in our backyard. I was less than five feet tall. I dug for a little while, but at some point it was like you were encased in these walls of snow. I'm not claustrophobic but I was scared. It was like you were trapped in the snow.
(TimeCapsuleClassicTV via YouTube)
Two days earlier, the thermometer hit 65. That record still stands for January 24th.