16 January 2008

Baby, It’s Cold Outside

It’s snowing!!!!!!!!!

Yeah, so you frozen-tundra’ed citizens are giving me the so-what shoulder. But you have to remember we Deep Southerners don’t have white winters. Winters in Atlanta resemble black-and-white photographs, but not from snow. We haven’t had a really good snow in a few years.

As Dino croons, Baby, It’s Cold Outside.

It was lovely driving home tonight — flakes swirling, people giddy on the radio, friends calling and squealing. Yep, in Atlanta everyone turns into third-graders when it snows. I came home, through on my cycle boots, and tromped around in the barely-an-inch snow. It was fabulous.

My front porch. My footprints in the snow.
My sad, sad geranium. It still had blooms a couple of weeks ago.

Which reminds me to share my frozen-tundra tale — twenty-six years ago this past weekend.

Snow Jam '82

January 12 started out as a typical winter day. We’d had a warm December, but the temps had finally gone down into the thirties and low forties. There was talk of a snowstorm coming that evening from the west — but we get all giddy about snow whenever the temp dips.

I worked in downtown Atlanta in those days, at Peachtree Center. My dad worked a couple of miles north of me at The Coca-Cola Bottling Company. He called me around 1 p.m. to tell me the snowstorm was coming in faster than expected, so he was coming to get me, to leave my car in the garage and meet him in front of my office building.

The streets were a mess, crowded with panicky Atlantans trying to hit Kroger for bread and milk before we were snowed in. I waited. And waited. And waited. Finally, nearly an hour later, OM walked up. Traffic was at a standstill, so he left his car at The Varsity and walked, carrying the dry cleaning he’d picked up earlier.

“Let’s just get a hotel room, Hooter, and ride it out.”

Yep. He called me “Hooter.” Long story — one that doesn’t involve what you’re thinking of.

“There aren’t any available rooms downtown, OM. The Bobbin Show’s here, and every hotel is booked through the week.”

The Bobbin Show was a big deal back in those days, thanks to the Apparel Mart.

“Then let’s start walking home.”

“But, OM, I’m wearing my fabulous new Anne Klein suede three-inch espadrilles. They’ll be ruined.”

One glance and I was saying a tearful goodbye to those lovely heartbreak-red shoes.

So, OM, his dry cleaning, his eldest child, and her lovely espadrilles started the trek north to Vinings. We walked along Williams Street, coming upon his secretary — still in her car trying to get on I-75 at 10th Street. We told her what we were going to do, so Karen (and her lovely three-inch leather boots) parked her car and joined us.

We walked onto I-75 northbound. At this point, the highway looked like Mad Max: Below the Mason-Dixon. Cars were barely moving, pointing every which way from skidding on the ice. Coming into the curve at the downtown connector was kind of cool: As if in slo-mo, cars in the far left lane would slowly … oh, so slowly … slide into the car in the lane next to them.

We were smart to leave our cars downtown.

It was weirdly festive along the interstate. We all knew we were trapped in a freak storm for the city, so everyone just went with the flow. Many folks were walking, and we were leaving the cars behind us. Every once in a while, a driver would open his door and let us ride for a quarter mile, just enough to warm us up.

Six miles and a couple of hours later, we made it to our exit. There was a McDonald’s at the bottom of the ramp (the same McDonald’s where the sister, Renae, HollyC, and I worked in high school). People had shown up with bread and meat, making sandwiches for us snow-wearied travelers while McDonald’s served free coffee. We got a bite to eat, OM called Mama from the payphone to report our progress, and we hit the road once again — OM still with his dry cleaning slung over his shoulder, Karen and I whimpering about the death of our stylin’ shoes.

When we got to Paces Ferry Road, a car was stuck in the ice, its wheels spinning. The three of us pushed it from the back bumper, getting it back on the road. The son of a bitch sped off — no wave, no offer of a ride. OM dropped his dry cleaning and flipped the angriest bird I’ve ever seen. I was so proud of my daddy at that moment.

We finally crossed the bridge over the Chattahoochee River, up Woodland Brook, then Orchard Knob, finally making it home to 4230 Brookview Drive — where hot soup and cocoa, a warm fire, and Mama awaited our arrival — three hours after we left. According to Mapquest, it was an 11.11-mile trek.

But we were smart. It took those who tried driving about eight hours to get home. Many others were stranded. Several bars and restaurants — most notably, the newly opened Longhorn Steakhouse on Peactree — became instant institutions.

We were snowed in for about a week — another rarity in these parts. Our snows, in generally, barely last a day.

And my espadrilles? A good cleaning by the shoe-repair shop, and they were still suitable for wearing with jeans.

So that’s my wintry tale — as good as any Jack London ever told. And now I’m off to snow-angel the back yard …

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At 1/16/2008 10:37:00 PM, Anonymous filegod1 said...

my dad worked downtown during snowjam, he carpooled with another male neighbor and a couple of thirty something ladies. When they became trapped in the traffic, he wanted to walk home, but the ladies were in skirts and high heels, so they staid in the car. It took him 9 hours to drive the 13 miles. My brother in law who was and still is a stud distance runner, left his car and made it home in 45 minutes. We all spent a long night sliding down the hills in our neighborhood.
The best snow time of my 25 years in Atlanta. Enjoy your inch of the white stuff.

At 1/16/2008 10:42:00 PM, Blogger Earl Cootie said...

I remember when it snowed in south Georgia in '73 (Feb. 10, I believe). My first snow ever, and oh yeah, I acted just like a third-grader. Of course, I was in fourth grade at the time, so it wasn't much of a stretch. I'm glad I've never lived anywhere with an excess of snow because I love loving it and I want it to be that way always.

At 1/16/2008 10:51:00 PM, Blogger SkylersDad said...

Nice story! Glad you liked the snow.

At 1/17/2008 12:48:00 AM, Blogger Mnmom said...

Great story! Just found your blog through Melinda June. I grew up in Iowa and that snowstorm would have been just another Tuesday.

At 1/17/2008 05:12:00 AM, Blogger Writeprocrastinator said...

I dug it.

"So that’s my wintry tale — as good as any Jack London ever told."

All hail the "Call of McDonald's." Especially since no snarling dogs, creepy old men or ice was involved.

At 1/17/2008 07:29:00 AM, Blogger Marni said...

Mom was working downtown, too and got stuck at a gas station. She said the funniest thing she saw was someone walking down the snow filled streets dressed in an Easter Bunny costume. Guess s/he was warm!!!

I think I have heard the story of a beer delivery truck opening its doors and everyone stranded on the highway had a GOOD time!!

I remember that storm, but I was home nice and warm...

At 1/17/2008 07:56:00 AM, Anonymous Janice said...

I remember snowjam as well! I worked near Perimeter and the *&% insurance company I worked for wouldn't let me leave! Something about the mail had to get out! I made it as far as The Lark and Dove where I put my name in the pot for dinner and called home for someone to resue me. Sure enough 3hours later I was rescued just as my name was called for dinner!

At 1/17/2008 08:43:00 AM, Blogger Bubs said...

I love that story.

Yeah, snow in the south is something isn't it? I remember visiting my folks in Kentucky once when it snowed, about an inch or so. We were leaving a store as it started, and there was a group of about 10 or 15 people standing in the vestibule looking out, kind of awestruck.

At 1/17/2008 09:34:00 AM, Blogger dguzman said...

Definitely worthy of comparison with White Fang.

At 1/17/2008 11:24:00 AM, Blogger Keith Kennedy said...

We had the same snowstorm here in Mississippi.

Folks from up north just can't imagine how badly things get screwed up down here when that happens and they laugh at us.

But that's OK. I can take it every 20 years or so with no problem.

The other thing I notices was that your foot prints on the porch seem to be barefooted.

I guess you didn't want to take a chance to ruin any other shoes in the snow???

At 1/17/2008 04:24:00 PM, Blogger Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

I had no idea your father was OM Puri. You are so "multi culti."

At 1/17/2008 04:47:00 PM, Blogger coffeypot said...

What happened to my comment? What I have to say is totally important (to me.)

Here is is again:

I was with Bug when the snow started to fall. It was her first snow and we were having a good time. When J-Man and Marni and Carl got home we went to dinner. The kiddies and I had a great snowball fight. I had snow inside my shirt when we got in the restaurant - where we got a chewing out by Marni. Bug was surprised to see how cold snow really is and how you can’t play long without gloves. It was fun.

Snow Jam ’82 found me stuck on I-85 driving a draft-beer truck. We set there for five hours before we were able to get off to go to “the barn.” In that time, my helper was in the back pumping beer to anyone who wanted it. Of course, many were asking for beer cups to pee in. It was a fun day. I got home around mid-night and the phone was ringing. My ex was stuck out on Peachtree St., where Peachtree Battle intersects, and need a ride home. I went back out to “rescue” her (picture the Calvary coming to the rescue, bugles blaring), and brought her back to my house. By then, I was asleep as we pull into the drive way. It was a fun day, too.

At 1/17/2008 04:59:00 PM, Blogger pistols at dawn said...

Good story. I was in Atlanta a few winters ago, and assumed it would be a tropical shorts-friendly wonderland.

There were 30 or so degrees that thought otherwise.

No snow, though, but I slept on a trampoline next to a skate ramp in a very cold warehouse and thought, "My life's really gotten away from me."

At 1/17/2008 05:25:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a great story! Love it! You are the Jack London of the South.

At 1/17/2008 06:32:00 PM, Blogger Barbara Bruederlin said...

What a trek!

If it's any consolation, that's almost what it's like around here with the first snowfall of the winter (and everybody has forgotten how to drive in snow). And we are supposed to be a winter city.

At 1/17/2008 06:39:00 PM, Blogger thirdworstpoetinthegalaxy said...

Love snow... and this story.

But never snow jams.

Never those.

At 1/17/2008 08:07:00 PM, Blogger BeckEye said...

Since you didn't try to build a fire directly under snow-covered branches, I'd say you have one up on Jack London.

Cool story. Literally. I'd love to get snowed in for a week.

At 1/18/2008 08:00:00 AM, Anonymous HollyC said...

snowjam 82, I was stuck in Athens with no power and nothing to do but study (living way off campus). I called RC and guess what? Both my sisters are at his place and they are having a snow jam party WITHOUT ME! sad huh?
Love the story about you and OM, I didn't know the whole tale. Good memory.


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