I personally drove very slowly, staying in low gear and was able to celebrate Mass for the few souls who ventured out and made it to church. Today I am feel- ing a few muscles that are sore from shoveling and am spending the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday resting up a bit.
Every time we have a big storm I can’t help but remember storms and blizzards of the past. Five come to my mind vividly. The Blizzard of 1966 I remember kept us out of school for about a week. It started snowing heavily on Sunday and by Sunday evening not just the schools but many businesses announced that they would be closed on Monday. My sister and I and two of the friends she worked with had been playing cards, when we heard of the closings we kept on playing Hearts to the wee hours of the morning. Every few hours I went outside to shovel out the joint driveway we shared with the neighbors who lived above us and the ones next door. My dad and each neighbor were supposed to each pay me a dollar for each time I shoveled. I don’t know how many times I shoveled dur- ing that storm but I do remember I didn’t get as much money for the job as they said I would!
One storm took place when I was in college that caught me by surprise. I can’t remember the year but was between1970- 1972. I was starting winter break at RIT and when I got up Saturday morning it was snowing but I remember saying to a roommate that I would probably drive out of the snow on the way home. Well I was very wrong! No storm warnings then like today. I almost had an accident before I reached the first exit on the Thruway but I kept going and so did the stormy weather. It took about three hours just to reach the Syracuse area so I decided to get off at the Liverpool exit. My Aunt Kay lived there. I made it to the development where she lived only to drive into a snow bank about three houses short of her house. She took me in and I was so glad to be off the road. I fig- ured I would stay overnight and leave in the morning. I figured wrong! It took a couple of days for most roads to be open, but her street wasn’t opened up for four days it was Wednesday before I got back on the road. By the time I got home and the driving still wasn’t easy on the way, most of my vacation time was gone. I learned a valuable lesson check the weather forecast before you get on the road. Sure wish I had listened to my roommate who advised me not to start out.
The Blizzard of 1978 found me at St. Bernard Seminary in Rochester. I remember as the storm was starting the maintenance man told the students and faculty to move their cars off the main parking lot so it could be plowed. Not everyone did I still have a pic- ture of a car that was blanketed in snow and one of the seminarians on top of the car on cross-country skis! It took a long time for the car to be dug out.
The Granddaddy of all though was the Blizzard of 1993; part of what was called the storm of the century. I was with Father Conboy that year at St. Joseph Parish in Penfield. It starting snowing right before the Saturday Vigil Mass by the time Mass had fin- ished the conditions had worsened greatly. We soon heard that a State of Emergency had been issued and Bishop Clark announce that all the Sunday Masses in the Diocese were cancelled. The snow just kept coming. By morning we had not even seen plows go by so Father Conboy and Father Jack Hedges and myself went over to church to celebrate Mass together. We did however have another person join us, a parishioner came right up to the front door on cross-country skis! The snow kept coming but no one came to plow, we were surrounded by a sea of snow that barracked us in the church complex. After a couple of days we could begin to see cars driving down the road in front of the church, at least we could see the antennas of the cars pass by. Finally after a few days a parishioner who owned a stone quarry sent over a pay-loader that cleared the four feet of snow as if was feathers! We were finally set free!
Remembering the storms I have experienced more importantly helps me remember the many people who were a part of my life when those weather events took place and the blessings those people brought about in my life. As I remember the past on this day I also thank God for the blessing of Martin Luther King Jr. who did so much to help break through barriers of prejudice. As a teenager I was so drawn to his non-violent message to bring about change. May the peaceful means he used continue to break down barriers in our day so we see all people as our brothers and sisters.
God’s Blessings and peace, Father Bill