"The snowstorm I'll never forget"
Before the big snowstorm hit, the weather had been unusually warm. Eight days before the storm, the temperature had dipped to a bone-chilling eight degrees (F). Five days after that, the temperature had climbed to a spring-like 65 degrees (F) a record high for that date.
Around five o'clock in the morning, on Thursday, January 26, the first snowflakes started to fall. They continued to fall all day and, by Friday morning, nearly two feet of snow covered the ground. That set a record for the most snow to fall in Chicago, beating the old record, set in 1930, by almost four inches.
The entire city was a Winter Wonderland. The cold wind from Lake Michigan had piled the snow into huge drifts, six feet deep in some places. We walked a few blocks to the neighborhood park and spent the rest of the afternoon sledding and building snowmen.
When we got too cold, we came inside for a change of clothes and cups of hot cocoa. We were having too much fun to even think about the snow's more serious effects.
THE CITY SHUTS DOWN
On Sunday night, we listened to the radio. The announcer told us that classes would be cancelled at nearly all Chicago schools the next day. Most offices would be closed, too. People were stranded at O'Hare International Airport, because the planes couldn't take off or land.
Schools and businesses stayed closed for several days. Even more snow fell. Later, the Department of Streets and Sanitation, whose job includes plowing the streets, reported that 75 million tons of snow had covered Chicago in a thick, white blanket.
STORM BRINGS SADNESS & JOY
Unfortunately, some people took advantage of the situation, breaking shop windows and stealing the things inside. The police arrested 273 of the storm thieves, and tragedy hit when a young girl was accidentally killed at one crime scene.
There were bright spots. I read in one newspaper that train cars packed with snow were sent south to Florida, where they delivered a present to children in the "Sunshine State" who had never seen snow before.
I SAVE OUR PORCH
My mother had a good reason to be frightened. One cubic foot of dry snow weighs about three pounds. When it starts to melt, the wet snow is much heavier, about 21 pounds per cubic foot. The five feet of wet snow that covered our ten-foot by ten-foot porch weighed a total of 1,050 pounds!
How could we safely remove the snow? It was piled so high that we couldn't push open the porch door. Not to be stopped, my mom had a plan. She opened a window and had me crawl through it, onto the porch. Then she passed me a shovel and I went to work, clearing off the snow.
That was a real chore, lifting all that weight with my shovel. My clothes were all sweaty and my shoulders and arms ached by the time I went back inside the house.
NO MORE SNOW
After all these years, though, one picture from the Great Snow of 1967 is still stuck in my head. It's the memory of radio antennas sticking up from the snow, attached to cars buried deep below. It's a sight I bet I'll never see again.