Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Thanksgiving 1950

I was not around in 1950, but my mom was. She has told us about this particular Thanksgiving holiday several times over the years and it still intrigues me.

My grandma grew up in a very small community in western Pennsylvania. It's where her family settled when they came over from Italy. In this community they STILL go to the post office every day to get their mail! They only got actual addresses a few years ago when they finally became part of the "9-1-1" system. When I send Christmas cards to the family there, it's still "P.O. Box 7" and their town.

Anyway, back in 1950 my mom was in her first year of nursing school, but they were given a few days off at Thanksgiving. My grandparents, along with my mom, aunt, and uncle were going back to Pennsylvania for the holiday. They had a car, so that made the journey much easier than it could have been, although it still took several hours to get there.

Back in 1950, Doppler Radar was a part of technology in the far distant future, so they really didn't know that there was a snowstorm coming in, or if they did know, they had no clue as to how bad it was going to be.

After they got to PA on Wednesday evening and were all settled in with the family, preparations for the feast began. At some point on Thanksgiving Day it began to snow...

and snow...

and snow...

and snow.

When everyone woke up on Friday morning, it was clear that no one was going to be leaving to go anywhere that day. There were a bunch of people in one small house, as it was a typical holiday in which everyone was together. Since no one had predicted a snowstorm was en route, they were really not prepared for it. Fortunately there was enough food in the house, so that wasn't a problem.

However, they didn't have an indoor bathroom at my great-grandparents' house...in fact NO ONE in that area of Pennsylvania had an indoor bathroom!

And there was only ONE pair of boots at the house. New boots had not been purchased for the upcoming winter season yet.

Apparently with so many people in the house, they had to be very patient and wait their turn for the boots to go to the OUTHOUSE in the back! But that was only after they somehow created a path to actually get there.

By Saturday my mom was starting to panic a little. There was absolutely NO let-up in the snowstorm, and she needed to be back to Akron on Monday for nursing school. There were NO EXCEPTIONS in nursing school. Grandpa had to be back at work on Monday too.

Sunday was the same as Saturday, except that the panic level was a little higher. Mom wanted to get to a telephone to call the hospital where the nursing school was, to let them know where she was and that she would be back as soon as she could.

Again, with technology not being quite what it is today, the few phone lines that were in existence were down due to the weather, so she wasn't able to make that call. On Monday, mom and Grandpa set out for the train station, walking through the snow drifts and STILL FALLING snow, only to be told that the trains were all canceled.

It snowed from Thanksgiving Day (November 23) until the following Tuesday (November 28).

Later in the week, they set out again, and this time they were lucky and the trains were running again. Just because the snow had finally stopped falling did NOT mean that things were all clear! The roads and tracks were still a huge mess and had to be dealt with. Grandpa and mom FINALLY were able to make it home after over 12 hours on a train, and mom finally got back to nursing school with NO repercussions, thank goodness.

Several days later, after roads were finally cleared, Grandma was able to drive the car home with the other two kids, my aunt and uncle.

If something like that happened today...well, let's just say that we would be totally prepared for it in every way possible. I like snow...but not driving in it or shoveling it.

And this Thanksgiving?? According to Dick Goddard (our Cleveland weather guru) we're supposed to have rain....that will turn to SNOW!