News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Columns

January 12, 2014

MAX JONES: Digging for wisdom in Larrison’s lament

The collective dissatisfaction of the mobile generation

TERRE HAUTE — Ferocious winter storms have been a rarity in west-central Indiana in recent decades, even though heavy snow or sub-zero stretches of days drop in occasionally to remind us how miserable they can make us.

When they do hit, they always seem to conjure up the ghost of the late Leland Larrison, mayor of Terre Haute for one term in the late ’60s.

Mayor Larrison, a Republican, encountered a couple of bad winters in his short stint in City Hall. As the story goes, he had some trouble after a spate of nasty snowstorms getting the Democrats on the City Council to appropriate needed funds for snow removal.

Later, in an interview with a national magazine reporter, he was asked about his inability to get the snow removed. He explained the difficult political situation and expressed his frustration by uttering the now-famous quote: “God put it there, God can take it away.”

Larrison’s lament has been mentioned numerous times the past week as roadways remained snow-packed and treacherous.

The symphony of complaints around town — and on social media sites — grew with each passing day.

We all can surely agree that the so-called “polar vortex” — how did I manage to live 60-plus years without ever hearing that term before? — created some stiff challenges for road crews on all levels. It wasn’t just the side streets of Terre Haute that were a mess and needed more attention. State highway workers had a terrible time with Interstate 70 through Indiana and Illinois for several days after the storm.

I understand why people got frustrated with the persistent ice, snow and slush. We are a mobile society, and we want to go where we want to go whenever we want to go. This particular storm stifled our movements, and we were collectively none too happy about it.

But I’m not jumping on the bandwagon of criticism. Maybe snow removal could have been better. I don’t know. Let’s admit one thing, however. These kinds of snowstorms don’t happen often enough in these parts for road crews to get really good at it. For that, I am thankful.

Despite the ranting and raving that occurred, it’s interesting to note that, as of today, much of the snow has melted. The snowstorm is well on its way to being a memory. Higher temperatures and steady rain have done their job. And the wisdom in Mayor Larrison’s epic words are clear as the driven snow.

God put it here. God took it away.

Jones can be reached at 812-231-4336, or by email at max.jones@tribstar.com. Follow him on Twitter,

@TribStarMax.

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