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Below Freezing

Thirteen degrees below zero! Thirty below with the wind chill factor. The weather is the topic of discussion these winter days.

I spent winter growing up in Chicago, so I know something about cold winters with the wind and snow blowing off Lake Michigan. After I graduated, I spent time in Omaha, Nebraska. Now they know how to have a blizzard. When my husband and I were married we spent time in Fargo, North Dakota. Enough said.

I don’t want to tell my grand-children how tough I had it growing up, but I do not remember a single time when school was canceled because of the weather. Maybe it was because nobody had a car and if you didn’t have a quarter for the bus, you walked. We trudged through snow drifts, huddled at bus stops and endured the winter weather. If you could get there, there was school.

One of my fondest memories was the boots most of us wore. Yes, I’m joking. In those days’ girls didn’t wear long pants so the edge of the rubber boot slapped against our calves and left a red, raw mark that was painful and chapped. Still, they were better than no boots.

We walked in groups to school and we gathered together to walk home after school, unless we were lucky enough to hitch a ride with one of the few guys who had a car.

The fellow I’m thinking of was a handsome, dark eyed boy named Johnny Goldberg. He was a junior and no taller than most of the girls. He lived with his single mom, and he liked jazz. He was smart and could add a column of figures faster than anyone. He was a good friend and once told me that dancing with me was like dancing with a Mach truck. He dated my best friend Miki and the car he had was an old Nash rambler that he was constantly working on just to keep it running. If we were lucky enough to catch him after school, he would give us a ride. All seven of us, eight counting him, squashed into the front and back seats. With the cigarette smoke and the fogged-up windows, it was kind of hard to see out, but somehow, he managed. No seatbelts in those days. We were surrounded by tons of chrome bumpers, so we felt pretty safe. Our destination was Steinberg’s Drug store where we put our change together and purchased and shared french fries and a coke.

Writing about this makes me wonder about Johnny. He talked about joining the Navy after graduation, and because of his height, working aboard a submarine. The USS Thresher sank in April of 1963 taking all 129 sailors. I hope he wasn’t one of them, but I’ll never know.

Thinking back on those cold winters, I remember it being freezing cold, but I don’t remember complaining about the weather or even discussing the subject. Winter was cold and summers were hot. Betty

Parents, try this science project:

A cup of boiling hot water thrown into very cold air will almost instantly freeze in midair and create a shower of tiny ice crystals.

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