Strange What We Take Pride In

Snow - Syracuse, New York - Jan. 2014By Judy Berman

Snow is often the backdrop for terror or for light-hearted comedy in the movies. But, in real life, it can be a constant grueling battle with the elements.

Digging out and piling it on. Among five Central New York cities, my former home of Syracuse is now the setting for the dubious honor of winning the Golden Snowball Award.

My former neighbors are having a tough winter. Their claim to fame, as of Feb. 18th, is 100 inches of snow.

Snow - Mark Bialczak

I recall a record year when we had nearly twice that at 192.1 inches in 1992-93. That’s when I had a round-trip commute to work of 110 miles a day. It’s the year when Syracuse was the “Snow King in the Blizzard of 1993.” It beat out 1966’s record snowfall for one storm with 42.9 inches – just six-tenths of an inch more than 1966.

All the city did for that distinction was just sit quietly and get dumped on over one weekend in March. When all was unsaid and done, we were buried under 3-feet of snow – on top of what we already had.

The Syracuse Post-Standard boasted in its 1993 editorial page: “You have to pity the denizens of boring Southern California, or arid Arizona, or dusty Nevada, where the forecast is always the same: sunny, dry and mild. They’ll never experience the thrill of being caught in the grip of a rock-‘em, sock-‘em, knock and block’em snow storm like we had – unless they come here, to Central New York.”

I mean – you can’t buy an attitude like that.

Here are the bragging rights that no one talks about:

1)      the longest number of uninterrupted days of no sunshine

2)      the bitterest battle for the last bottle of antifreeze

3)      the tallest snow mound – piled high in our driveway.

This does get deeper. Hang on.

4)      The world’s longest and loudest recorded wail held by my husband, Dave, when he realized that he’d have to remove the white stuff.

5)      Dave also tied the record for holding his breath and turning blue during the same dramatic meltdown scene.

Fortunately, Dave got a last-minute reprieve when a couple of independent snowplow boys cruised into our neighborhood. They plowed us out after they coaxed $20 out of Dave’s wallet.

Then, six of our neighbors ran up crying and waving money at them. Before the snowplow boys left our block, they were very rich and planning to flee to Florida.

Snowman - Diane H. McDowell Gray and Donna Cox Austin

Other areas measure their success by their year-round attractions. We measured ours with something that doesn’t stick around – thank heavens!

Here’s wishing my former neighbors have an early spring and that Mother Nature takes it easy on them for the rest of this winter.

Snow - cardinals in tree - provided by Roland Allen

So, what are we in Florida bragging about? The Sunshine State leads the world in shark attacks in 2013. Fortunately, no one was fatally injured.

Florida’s lightning strikes, however, are a greater hazard. It is the lightning capital of the U.S.  Four people died in Florida in 2013 as a result of lightning strikes.

What are the strange bragging rights where you live?

COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Judy Berman and earthrider, 2011-15. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to (Judy Berman) and (earthrider,, or earthriderdotcom) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

A movie to avoid if you’re snowed in – “The Shining” (1980) with Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall and Danny Lloyd. Directed by Stanley Kubrick, the movie is based on Stephen King’s horror novel. 

A movie to cheer you no matter how much snow piles up – “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” (1987) with Steve Martin and John Candy. Directed by John Hughes.  

Best Snow Movies List –

Main Photo – Snow – Syracuse – provided by Danielle and Keith Wallace

Photo – Snow piled in a Syracuse driveway – Mark Bialczak –

Photo – Snowman hitchhiking to Florida  – a reader (see comments below) says that a family friend, John Santiago, made the snowman in Andover, N.H. on Beach Hill Road. (It was provided by Diane H. McDowell Gray.)

Photo: Snow – cardinals in tree – provided by Roland Allen

“Blizzard of ’93: Why Was it the Storm of the Century? Accuweather

  1. I can distinctly remember my first sight of what that blizzard had done to our little spot in the world, the morning-after the snow dump. I hit the garage door opener to our house and it rose one foot. Snow. Two feet. Snow. Three feet. Snow. Four feet … well, finally, daylight peeking from above the snow.

    I put my shovel(!) down, went into the house, called work and left a message: I would not be making it to Syracuse from Morrisville that day. Finally, the next day, my stepchildren’s father came down from the family farm with his backhoe to free his children and two happy parents by clearing that four feet of snow from our driveway.

    We cheered.

    Thanks for the memory, Judy!

    1. You’re bringing back snowy memories, Mark. Thanks for sharing your photos and your experiences.

      Three winter blizzards stand out for me: the blizzard of 1966 – even Syracuse’s main streets were impossible to drive on; the snowstorm of 1978 on my daughter’s 6th birthday when it took me 2 hours to drive (typically a 10-minute drive) from WOLF-AM where I worked part-time to home, and the blizzard of 1993. When I went on the Thruway – even though part of it was closed – to get to work in Utica, my kids thought I was crazy. Not in the Jack Nicholson, “The Shining,” way, but – yeah! I was. 🙂

  2. Love going down memory lane!! I never had this much snow growing up in North Carolina, but we had our fair share. Lol. I do miss the snow, but I love my beaches here in Florida so I’ll just go home for a visit when it snows!!! Love reading your blogs!!! Keep ’em coming!!

    1. Thanks, Diane. I’m glad you enjoy my stories. Just remember, our dubious bragging rights in Florida might make a heavy snowfall seem welcome. 😉 Thanks for the hitchhiking snowman photo. Love it!

    1. I recall an early spring one March. What a welcome reprieve that was. But the last snowfall on Mother’s Day in May one year – Arrrghh! I screamed when I opened our curtains and saw more white stuff piled on the ground.

    1. Glad you enjoy this. Once the weather’s done its worst, it’s easy for me to sit back and laugh. I mean …. what more can Mother Nature throw at me? Oops! I guess I shouldn’t tempt fate. Thanks for writing. 😉

      Love your story on Meatloaf – in a speedo yet. My eyes! I cannot unsee that image! 😆

  3. 100″ of snowfall, Judy?!! Syracuse deserves more than a Golden Snowball Award!
    (Though I have to tell you that I smiled at the image of a golden snowball–two days ago as we shoveled snow off our sidewalks and driveway AGAIN!, the neighbor’s little dogs hopped over and peed on our pile of snow!)
    Such a good balance of the snow man with the Florida sign…and the wonderful, colorful shot of the birds!

    1. Marilyn, those images of humongous piles of snow remind me why I only want to visit Syracuse during the other 3 seasons of the year. 😉

      Thanks for the comment on the photos. They were provided by Facebook friends and family.

    1. That’s scary, Carl. I’m so glad that your family survived that. I recall author/Miami Herald reporter, Edna Buchanan, writing about Miami’s high murder rate. For a cops reporter, that would be the place to cover. But that is an unnerving situation for any one to go thru.

  4. So viel Schnee liebe Grüße und einen schönen Sonntag lieber Gruß Gislinde

    (translation from Google: So much snow greetings and have a nice Sunday dear greeting Gislinde)

  5. I’m from Minnesota originally. We love to brag about how stupid-cold it gets.

    Here in Rhode Island, people don’t brag (although they ought to, there’s a lot to actually brag bout). Rhode Island is known for being a little runt with a self-esteem problem. 😉

    1. Tracy … I got your request for a typo correction. Done. 😉

      Rhode Island should be like the banty rooster and crow loudly about its bragging rights. Why leave that overachiever claim to all the rest of us? 😉

  6. Hope and pray our friends in the Winter states are doing okay. I can’t imagine myself plowing snow before work or worse my car won’t start. It’s 74 degrees in Houston. Yesterday we have Mardi Gras in Galveston. As for harsh weather, hurricane Ike makes haunts me still every time it’s hurricane season.

    1. Within a few months after we’d moved to Florida in 1999, Hurricane Floyd hit. The governor ordered an evacuation for the area we lived in. My husband and I stayed. We worked at a newspaper and covered the event. Scary. Like you, Island Traveler, hurricane season is one I dread.

    1. Jennifer, whose comment is above, told me that a family friend took the photo. They’ve since seen it everywhere. While she didn’t mind that, she did mind that some claimed they’d taken this photo. Yeah! I’d be steamed, too. (I got the photo off a friend’s post on Facebook. So it is everywhere.)

      Glad you like the hitchhiking snowman photo. He just makes me smile.

      1. Yeah, I’m just not understanding why people feel the need to claim things that obviously are not theirs. A photo like that is nice to share and is popular because it strikes a cord with the way a lot of people about the winter 🙂

  7. Wow, that sounds like a whole lot of snow!!! 😯 I can’t imagine what it must be like to have to dig your way out through your front door! I do remember a little bit of that going on in the 80’s, but probably no more than about 12 or 15 inches of snow, which seemed a lot to us! But having said that my parents remembered the bitter winter of 1947 in Britain where nearly the whole country came to a standstill, the snow was huge compared to what they were used to at the time. Here’s an image of a car in Yorkshire making it’s way after the snow had been cleared. I think they had snowploughs in those days, but not that many. I’m sure my Dad said most of it was done by men volunteering to dig with spades, and I can certainly remember seeing old film of the time showing a lot of digging by hand going on – they must have been tough people in those days. Hopefully there wasn’t any wailing going on then – but you never know! 😉 I don’t blame your husband for wailing – I think I would! 😀

    I bet your glad you don’t have to do this now! 🙂 I love those colourful birds in the snowy tree, I wish we had them here. They’re like Christmas decorations!! And I think your Mr Snowman is right to head for Florida – although it might be a short holiday for him – he may not last long in that sunshine! 😉

    1. Thanks, Suzy, for providing a link to that snow scene. I do recall snow piled that high after the snowplows went thru.

      I used a bit of hyperbole to describe my hubby digging out after a snowstorm. He probably only gnashed his teeth and muttered dark, censored thoughts. 😆 While I miss SOME of the snow scenes, I do not envy what my former neighbors are going thru now.

      Mr. Snowman wasn’t thinking when he tried to hitch a ride to the Sunshine State. I don’t think he made it – even though we did have a FEW cold days here in Florida. 😆

  8. Thanks, Judy. You’ve managed to make me feel better. My puny 57 inches of snow doesn’t seem so bad. They’re predicting more for Monday. Spring better hurry up and get here.

    1. The amount of snow in Central New York most years is staggering. I learned early on to layer – that took care of the cold. The best I could do for the snowfall was high boots. 😉 Wishing you see an early spring, Paprika.

      1. High boots is a good idea, Judy. I’ve never had a pair. The way things are going – with another 6 inches predicted for Monday- it might be wiser for me to invest in a pair of waders.

  9. Within the next 12 hrs., the winter temp. tonight here out in Calgary, Alberta will fall to -31 degrees C , -40 degrees C. My partner and I wondered if we could go walk 20 min. to the grocery store or café to huddle…

    In our city, many women wrap themselves in downfilled long coats which aren’t elegant and they will clomp around in all sorts of unfashionable, but practical books with fake fur, lace up, whatever. Even on days when there’s not much snow….to keep warm!! To hell, with fashion!

    1. Jean, those numbers sound downright chilling. I’d opt for the cafe.

      Fashion is highly overrated when it comes to a choice between freezing to death or staying warm. I’ll choose warm every time. I had a maxi coat – you can see it in my next post (Radio Daze) – that I felt was both fashionable and warm. Thanks for writing. Here’s to an early spring.

  10. Having grown up in Cooperstown, NY, I can identify completely! Don’t know if we set any records, but I used to get nosebleeds playing King Of The Mountain on an enormous pile down by the firehouse. Of course, some of that was from falling on my face… : (

    I can remember making a lot of money one winter shoveling roofs. Seems like it was a lot more fun back then. Maybe I should start paying myself! Loved the picture of all the cardinals– very enjoyable post, Judy, especially for us ex-Upstate New Yorkers!! : )

    1. Wow! I don’t think I’d want to get up on a roof in icy, bitter cold weather. Come to think of it that would not be my choice in any weather. But I’m sure you made out like a bandit. 😉 Glad you liked the story, Mark.

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