News From Terre Haute, Indiana

News

January 19, 2014

MIKE LUNSFORD: The night the snow fell

The lasting legacy of a storm to remember

You would think that the cold winds and deep snows that we endured two weeks ago would be old news by now, but as I stood in the checkout line at a grocery store just a few days back, a gallon of milk in one hand and a quart of orange juice in the other, a customer just ahead of me appeared to be stocking up to make a run for the Donner Pass, and all she could talk about was the storm.

I’ve listened to numerous tales of hardship and depravation these past few days, at the bank, the local gas station and at a hardware store, where I thumbed through a rack of insulated bibbed overalls, a pair of which I have every intention of owning before this winter is over.

There have been stories of dead car batteries, drifted roads and icy slide-offs, and one friend told me that a few rooms in his place registered 32 degrees after his overtaxed heating unit gave up in its effort to outrun the storm’s fury.

The “Polar Vortex” of 2014 has not only left a trail of burst water pipes, wheezing furnaces and potholes in its wake, it has forced me to finally admit that I am no longer a big fan of winter. This has been a cold season, one that started well before the calendar told it to, one that seems to be about as welcome as uninvited relatives who have little intention of leaving anytime soon. No, this winter has already given me my fill of shoveling snow and cracking fingers and trying to keep my truck between the ditches.

I am, of course, more than old enough to easily recall the “Blizzard of ’78,” the measuring stick that everyone uses when bitter air comes sweeping down from Canada to smack us around. It was, in my humble opinion, a much tougher animal to deal with than this year’s storm, despite the fact that there was nearly a 70-degree difference between the high temperature last Monday and the miserable Monday before. The storm of ’78 lasted longer, dumped more snow and left us isolated here in the country, all cold hard facts that are more palatable now with the proliferation of 4-wheeled drives, cell phone communication and back-up generators. That’s not to say that I wasn’t worried on the nights this storm’s winds blew and its snow fell; I worried plenty.

Joanie and I tried to avoid the shark-invested waters of the supermarket the Saturday before the storm arrived. We got our cupboards stocked a few days earlier, topped off the tanks of our car and truck, made sure the barn cats (one, a big hungry freeloader that appeared on our step two days before the big blow, and who is available for adoption) had a good layer of straw to tuck around themselves, slipped an insulated cap over our outside faucet, changed our furnace filters and hunkered down in the house to wait for things to happen.  

By the time the heaviest snow came — and kept on coming — I had brought wood into the garage if we needed to open our fireplace, and began the trek to our bird feeders, amazed from the very beginning that our feathered friends were managing to get to the supper table at all, considering the brutal winds that raked across our yard like backhanded slaps.

Luckily, we never lost power, and despite a worrisome, but temporarily frozen water line to our refrigerator’s ice-maker, we came through the mess with little more than sore backs from shoveling and the creeping dread of a record-setting electricity bill coming in the mail.

In January 1978, I was doing my student teaching at a rural school just south of Crawfordsville, living in a rented apartment in the quiet little town of New Market. Because I was on a very limited budget — something between abject poverty and canned soup twice a day — I closed off all the rooms in my half of a duplex, using only the living room, kitchenette and ice cube of a bathroom. There was a certain Hugh Hefner feel to the place, since I had to set up my bed in the living room. Sleeping in the bedroom there would have required a ski mask and a sleeping bag suitable for Peary’s assault on the Pole.  

My time in New Market was a mixture of excitement and pure drudgery. Those were the days of long-distance calling, so I used to head to a mom-and-pop gas station/grocery along the main drag in town to call my then-girlfriend, who decided the next year to marry me. Commiserating with my situation, she had spent the previous winter — a terrible one, too — getting her student teaching done in Vincennes, living in a one-room upstairs apartment, where, minus a freezer, she kept her frozen pizzas on the roof.  

I gained a certain confidence in being able to fend for myself that winter, while the kind old lady who lived next door kept me alive with generous care packages of freshly baked cookies. My teaching took a back seat to the 13 days of school we missed, so many days that I was told I had to live on in New Market a while longer, subsisting by then on a steady diet of cornbread that I baked in an old iron skillet (the mix was only about 12 cents a box) and shivering my way through snowy afternoons of watching Phil Donahue on my 14-inch television and reading Shakespeare.  

One memory that will stay will me forever came after I dug my Plymouth out of a massive drift to drive — with the requisite 300 pounds of concrete blocks in the trunk — a few miles north into the country to eat supper with my cousin, Rick, and his family. Coming up over a rise on their narrow road, just a mile from the single flashing light in New Market, I met a National Guard tank as it cleared the road with an enormous blade.

The rumor is that the Vortex is to come calling yet again this winter. If it does, I’ll continue prayers that my power stays on. I’ll be willing to shut off rooms to conserve heat if I have to; I’ll even eat a little cornbread for old times’ sake.

The big advantage now is that I won’t have to call my girlfriend long-distance.

Mike Lunsford can be reached by email at hickory913@aol.com, or c/o the Tribune-Star at P.O. Box 149, Terre Haute, IN 47808. Go to his website at www.mikelunsford.com to learn more about his books. He will be speaking and signing at the Marshall (Ill.) Public Library at 6:30 CST Jan. 30.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
News
  • MET072914leo screen.jpg Slick’s debut

    Bobby “Slick” Leonard was the main attraction but his hometown, Terre Haute, was constantly in the background as friends, fans and family gathered in Indianapolis Tuesday night to honor the man famous for the words “Boom Baby.”

    July 29, 2014 8 Photos

  • MET 072914 TAJIMI YANASE.jpg Sister-city students get a dose of ‘new culture’

    One of Juri Sawada’s dreams has been to visit America.

    July 29, 2014 3 Photos

  • Motion delays trial for 2012 homicide

    A man who has been jailed about 20 months in connection with the homicide of his wife will not go on trial next week as scheduled.

    July 29, 2014

  • Sheriff charged in prostitution case

    Clark County Sheriff Danny Rodden has spent more than 30 years in law enforcement working to protect the public from criminals, but on Tuesday he was treated as one.

    July 29, 2014 1 Story

  • maple candy closeup.jpg Vigo Parks dishing out the sweetness

    Vigo County Parks and Recreation has made a “sweet” addition to its maple syrup production at Prairie Creek Park.

    July 29, 2014 3 Photos

  • Danny Rodden indicted on federal charges

    Instead of overseeing the operations of the Clark County jail and police force Tuesday, Clark County Sheriff Danny Rodden found himself being transported by the FBI to Indianapolis to answer federal charges.

    July 29, 2014 1 Story

  • Woman’s condition ‘fair’ after grocery store wreck

    A Terre Haute woman was listed in fair condition Tuesday at Eskenazi Health in Indianapolis as the result of injuries sustained in Monday’s accident on the Baesler’s Market parking lot.

    July 29, 2014

  • Semi driver cited for alcohol use

    A commercial vehicle driver has been placed out of service after he tested positive for alcohol consumption during a Tuesday morning traffic stop in Sullivan County.

    July 29, 2014

  • Church to give out school backpacks

    United Methodist Temple will stage its first-ever Back-2-School Bash from 5 to 7:30 p.m. on Aug. 9.
    The church is located at 5301 S. U.S. 41.

    July 29, 2014

  • MET 072814 BUS MEYERROSE.jpg Bus safety features

    New safety features on South Vermillion School Corp. buses have led to fewer disciplinary problems and fewer incidents of motorists illegally passing stopped school buses, officials say.

    July 29, 2014 3 Photos

  • Pendergast.jpg Humvee driver says foot caused fatal accident

    Kyle Pendergast, 22, the Terre Haute driver of a black Humvee charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated causing the death of a teenager, has told police he could not turn the wheel before the vehicle flipped in a field in an early Saturday morning accident.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo 1 Story

  • MET 072814 CONTAMINATED Cleaner may have contaminated water

    Groundwater and soil testing is set to begin within a week to learn whether toxic chemicals might have seeped into the wells of a small southside neighborhood and even beyond.

    July 29, 2014 3 Photos

  • Housing Authority’s Warren Village nearing completion

    Construction on the newest Terre Haute Housing Authority property – Warren Village – should wrap up next month, a housing authority official said Monday.

    July 29, 2014

  • rush-hr.jpg Observers predict ‘wide open’ process of picking next chief

    State Supreme Court Chief Justice Brent Dickson surprised observers in June when he decided to step down after a brief tenure as the state’s top judge.

    July 29, 2014 2 Photos

  • Multi-vehicle accident in parking lot

    A woman was hospitalized with injuries after a multiple-vehicle accident late Monday morning in the Baesler’s Market parking lot on Poplar Street

    July 29, 2014

  • Old National acquires Michigan bank

    Evansville-based Old National Bancorp and Grand Rapids-based Founders Financial Corp. said Monday they have finalized an agreement under which Old National will acquire Founders through a stock and cash merger.

    July 28, 2014

  • Ohio man falls to death at Cataract Falls rec area

    Indiana conservation officers are investigating the death of an Ohio man that occurred at about 4:10 p.m. Sunday at Cataract Falls State Recreation Area in Owen County.

    July 28, 2014

  • MET 072514 WWI 01MORAHN.jpg Postcards from the war front

    A native of France, Marie Decleir saw humanity at its worst as she experienced the death and destruction caused by World War I, which began 100 years ago today.

    July 27, 2014 2 Photos

  • MET 072714 NASCAR STEIG.jpg Watching Gordon make history

    As race car drivers competed on the track on Sunday in Indianapolis, racing fans in Terre Haute gathered around television screens and watched history unfold during the “Crown Royal Presents, The John Wayne Walding 400 at the Brickyard.”

    July 27, 2014 3 Photos

  • STATE OF THE STATEHOUSE: Inept amid partisan fury

    Retired Congressman Lee Hamilton has warned of the perils of political ideology, calling the body where he spent 34 years “noxiously partisan.” Now, he worries the divide is downright dangerous.

    July 27, 2014

  • Restaurant Inspections: July 28, 2014

    July 7-11

    July 27, 2014

  • MET 072514 I-70 CONE.jpg Caution zone

    Travel the interstate at your own risk.

    July 26, 2014 5 Photos

  • Earl Elliott report1 copy.jpg Report: City‘s general fund to remain in red

    The city’s general fund balance on June 30 remained deep in the red, even after Terre Haute received its twice-yearly property tax check from the state.

    July 26, 2014 6 Photos

  • MET 072314 INTERN 01MILLER.jpg Interns, getting foot in the door, bring diversity to workplace

    Shanya Tompkins interviewed with Coldwell Banker-Troy Helman Realtors, anticipating an eight-week, part-time summer internship.

    July 26, 2014 5 Photos

  • MET072514dance porter.jpg Everybody get up and dance now

    National Dance Day promotes dancing as part of a healthy, active lifestyle.

    July 26, 2014 4 Photos

  • Pendergast.jpg Man arrested after rollover kills teen girl

    A Terre Haute man has been arrested and a teenager has died following an alcohol-related accident early today.

    July 26, 2014 2 Photos 1 Story

  • Brother sues W.Va. senator over business loan

    U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin III faces a $1.7 million civil suit filed by a brother over a lifeline to save a family carpet business. in the late 1980s.

    July 26, 2014

  • MET072514 invenadamson step.jpg ‘Minds-on camp’

    Sylvia Ann Adamson longed for privacy, so she invented a solution to that problem at “Camp Invention.”

    July 25, 2014 5 Photos

  • Linda Tincher.jpg Riley lion’s roar goes global

    Linda L. Tincher has become the first woman from Indiana elected to serve as an international director for Lions Clubs International. She was chosen earlier this month during the clubs’ 97th international convention in Toronto, Canada.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • MET072514 SPPRAK glasses.jpg Kindness ‘undercover’

    Hundreds of people gathered at Bob Warn Field at Sycamore Stadium on Friday for a night of baseball, music, the “Green Man” and green shades.

    July 25, 2014 2 Photos

Latest News
TribStar.com Poll
AP Video
Two Women Narrowly Avoid Being Hit by Train Raw: Japanese Soldiers Storm Beach in Exercises In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre Girl Struck by Plane on Florida Beach Dies Raw: Weapons Fire Hits UN School in Gaza Crayola Announces Family Attraction in Orlando Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship Broken Water Main Floods UCLA Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo Boater Rescued From Edge of Kentucky Dam Kerry: Not Worried About Israeli Criticism Raw: Earthquake Rocks Mexico's Gulf Coast US Ready to Slap New Sanctions on Russia New Sanctions on Key Sectors of Russian Economy Raw: NH Man Held on $1M in Teen's Kidnapping 'The Bachelorette' and Her Beau Go Public Raw: Obama Eats Ribs in Kansas City
NDN Video
Heartwarming 'Batkid Begins' Documentary is Tear-Jerker Sadie Doesn't Want Her Brother to Grow Up Chapter Two: Designing for Naomi Watts Broken Water Main Floods UCLA "Maxim" Hotness! See Jessica Alba's Sizzling Spread Two women barely avoid being hit by train Orlando Bloom and Justin Bieber Reportedly Came To Blows In Ibiza Meet the Man Behind Dumb Starbucks Chris Pratt Adorably Surprises Kids at a 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Screening NOW TRENDING: Peyton Manning dancing at practice "The Bachelorette" Makes Her Decision Thieves pick the wrong gas station to rob Golden Sisters on '50 Shades' trailer: 'Look At That Chest!' Staten Island Man's Emotional Dunk Over NYPD Car - @TheBuzzeronFOX GMA: Dog passes out from excitment to see owner Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted 'Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1' Sneak Peek Florida Keys Webcam Captures Turtles Hatching Morgan Freeman Sucks Down Helium on 'Tonight Show' Robin Wright Can Dance! (WATCH)
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -

     

    March 12, 2010

activity
Real Estate News