If you live in the South, you know it doesn’t take much frozen precipitation to shut us down. We all have stories.
First note: I am sympathetic to the people who have to make decisions about whether to close things down or not, whether school superintendents or governors or pastors. We had a school superintendent in our church in Batesburg who helped me understand the complexity of the decision—school kids waiting for school buses at the end of long dirt roads with Mom and Dad leaving for work at 5:30 a.m. and the kids waiting outside expecting the school bus. When I was a pastor, I also learned that some sweet old folks have such a stern “Don’t miss church” instruction still lingering in their brain from their parents 80 years ago that they will drive in terrible, inclement weather to get to their church like the good Christians they want to be. Even when it was possible for some people to walk to church, I always felt the need to shut it town to protect these saints from themselves.
First story: Back when I was single, I visited my girlfriend’s home in Westchester County, New York. She and I were to get on a plane on Christmas afternoon to return to South Carolina where we were leading an after-Christmas camp for Young Life kids. After driving halfway to the airport in New York City, her dad asked which airport we were leaving from. Well, duh. We didn’t have a choice of airports in our Southern cities and towns. He was not happy when I told him the correct airport. Apparently we had been driving in the snow toward the wrong destination. We ended up being snowed into LaGuardia for 16 hours. This, please note, was not a Southern airport.
Second story: Honeymoon! Sally and I drove to New England for our honeymoon after Christmas in1972 and came back to our first apartment together: Huntington Apartments in Northeast Columbia—complete with fireplace. We got snowed in with the January 1973 snowstorm immediately upon our return—still the biggest in our memory. Schools were closed, but that didn’t keep our Young Life high school kids from visiting us! What a hoot! Schools were closed for about a week. The snow was deep. Then, Sally’s school, Gibbes Middle School, experienced a fire and she didn’t have to go to school for another week! Nice honeymoon.
Third story: Shelden and Christie Timmerman, Sally and I were going to Atlanta for a Big Weekend of eating at a fine restaurant and touring the Big City. When we got to Atlanta, we were locked down in our motel rooms because of snow. We were able to go to a fast food franchise across the street and order take out which we ate while sitting on the floor of our hotel room. An adventure.
Fourth story: Driving back to Kentucky from South Carolina when I was attending seminary, we (Sally, baby Jenna and I) hit an ice slick on I-75. Our car spun until it was sitting perpendicular across the highway. One car behind us drove on the right shoulder to avoid us and kept going. A truck behind us drove into the median and his cab and rig ended up on its side. I pulled off the side of the road until I was sure the truck driver and everyone else was okay. Cars were stopping to help. We were never touched by another vehicle. I got back into our car and we drove to the next exit and got a motel room for the night.
Fifth, sixth, seventh, etc. Too many to tell. What are your experiences?