by Suzanne Eovaldi, staff writer
Reading what went on in Atlanta this week is just amazing! I moved to Florida after living near Chicago and the lake snow region of NW Indiana most of my life. We had to deal with bad ice storms in Southern Illinois when I was young and while at the University of Illinois in Champaign. Three inches of snow in Chicago is NOTHING. They got rid of a mayor that didn’t get and keep the roads open.
I had to teach in Chicago Heights, IL when the temperature was -48 and the wind chill was -82. As I recall, I was the only female that showed up, though most of the men were there. When we were dismissed at the 8 p.m. class break, my big Buick was the only car in the frozen lot. I had even locked the door! But the door opened and the Buick turned right over on my first try. I drove the back roads into NW Indiana, a story in itself. But those big trucks the Hoosiers drive had already plowed open the back roads, just by force and might, so I drove into my driveway, got inside my home and said some prayers of thanks. I never let my cars get older than 18 months; I know this was more costly for me, but I always got back and forth to work.
In l967, we had a land hurricane and that winter, one of those famous Chicago blizzards that this time really did shut down the city for a few days. My daughter remembers getting out onto our flat top roof to help me shovel off the snow before it hardened from sleet. We told the man next door he had better do the same, but he thought it was a silly idea. The next morning when he went out to start his car, he found his roof was on top of it.
My daughter tells me this winter up there is very bad, but they’re dealing with it. I asked, “How are your snow plows and shovels holding up?” She said, “We don’t have any; we have five boys instead!” She still remembers my telling her when on a plane, if the oxygen masks come down, put yours on first. I know this sounds odd at first, but if you fail, who will care for your little children? So she’s learned well to be prepared and to take care of herself and her own in emergencies.
I still have nightmares about being out on I-57 during those terrible white-outs. One Christmas Eve we were driving North to get home to Flossmoor, but conditions were getting worse by the minute. My family was depending upon my ability to keep the car on the road, even while semis were slip-sliding all over the frozen road. We got off at the last exit open, just south of Kankakee and spent our holiday in a little motel that took us in. I literally could not see where I was driving. When my Dad asked why he couldn’t see out of the windshield, I didn’t answer him. My little dog climbed up next to my right leg and I said, “We’re getting off now.” And so we did.
But, hey in my old age, I moved down to Florida and what an experience to observe these southern drivers. I’ve been out on I-95 in visibility conditions just as bad as up north in the white-outs. When those coastal storms move in, you are literally trapped in your car. Pulling off to the side just wasn’t an option during one of these storms.
But while up north, I’ve noticed that drivers slow down as conditions worsen. Down here I’ve noticed drivers tend to speed up the worse it gets. Why, I don’t know. It’s just Florida. Cheers everyone.