As I type this column, it’s snowing! It’s been a long time since we’ve seen any significant snowfall, but this one is impressive.

I am reminded of the best snowy time that I can recall. You can actually find it online if you search “Great Appalachian blizzard.” It happened on Thanksgiving weekend in 1950.

A combination of just enough moisture, a cold front dropping down from Canada, and winds that reached 160 mph in New England, triggered a 12-hour blizzard that impacted 22 states, killed 383 people, and caused damage equivalent to $717 million in 2020 dollars.

From my 7-year-old point of view, it was wonderful. The snow moved into Ohio during the Ohio State-Michigan football game. (For you Tennessee natives, that’s like UT vs. Alabama.) It came down so heavily that the yard lines were almost impossible to see. Attendees who headed for home were stranded on the roads and taken in by folks in nearby houses, and Dayton got a foot of snow.

But never mind all that. We got out of school for two weeks — unheard of in Yankee-land. Our school Christmas program was cancelled, which was fine with me because I had been cast as a balloon instead of the doll I had wanted to be.

I don’t know how much snow we got but it whipped into drifts, one of which formed around the front step to my grandmother’s porch; somewhere there is a photo of my 4-year-old sister straddling the drift, unable to get down.

At the time, she, my mom, and I were living with Grandma because my dad’s National Guard unit had been activated during the Korean conflict. We hadn’t seen him for months. Mom had taken a job at a local factory, and our house — which was about 100 yards south of Grandma’s on a hill — was rented for some extra income.

What my sister and I really loved about this storm was that after the snow, there must have been some freezing rain, because a hard crust of ice formed atop the snow. It was thick enough that she and I could walk on top of it.

We lived in central Ohio, which is a landscape of rolling hills, not too different from Dickson County. The hill beside the barnyard fence was fairly steep; and somewhere we managed to find some wires that we fit together to form a piece that we fastened from the top of the fence to the bottom. What did we do with that? We used it to pull ourselves up to the top so we could ski to the bottom, balancing on our feet on the frozen surface.

I don’t recall that we ever broke through the frozen crust. Neither do I recall sledding, so the snow was probably too thick for that. The hill where our house stood was perfect for sledding, which we usually did.

In fact, at some point in my early life, we were sledding when my mother put Little Sister, too small to go down by herself, in front of her. At the foot of the hill, we had a garden spot, which hadn’t frozen. When the two of them hit the garden, the runners sank into the dirt and stopped dead. Mom flew forward with Little Sis underneath her and they face-planted in the snow. She said that she just knew the kid would never again get on a sled, but when they dug themselves out, my toddler sister happily said, “Do again!”

But that‘s another storm. The 1950 blizzard was unprecedented. When the foot or so of snow thawed, Cincinnati was flooded. I’m sure other places were as well, but for me, it was wonderful. I spent the next 10 or more years hoping for another one like that snowstorm.

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