Roy Exum: The Ice Storm Of 1960

Saturday, January 7, 2017 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

By the first day in March in 1960, we had already had a bunch of snow and ice that winter and the forecast was not remarkable, rain with temperatures in the mid-40s but just be careful for ice that might form overnight. I was five weeks away from my 11th birthday, the second of four boys not yet teenagers, and my sister Susan was less than a year old.

No one ever predicted we were about to get hit by “The Perfect Storm.” Later it was learned we had a meteorological oddity – where the upper atmosphere was warmer than the lower – so when the rain from above descended through the freezing temperatures below, the legendary “Ice Storm of 1960” hit Chattanooga and our home on Lookout Mountain with such a spectacular fury there has been nothing to equal it since.

In our big yard alone, we lost 60 huge trees, mostly pines. The power got knocked out early so by midnight we were up, stoking the three fireplaces in the house in what turned out to be one of my life’s greatest adventures. All night long those trees would snap – really loud – and you could hear other trees all over the neighborhood giving in to the heavy ice.

While almost all the neighbors went to hotels downtown, my Dad decided we should stay put. Yesterday, as temperatures began to dip below 30 degrees and the radar showed we might get snow last night, I couldn’t help but remember living for an entire week – or was it ten days? – without any electricity in bitter cold.

At the time, my family was in the grocery business – we owned the Home Stores – so we would drag our sleds through the ice and snow to get provisions every day and then Mother would cook in the fireplace. It was a real hoot for us boys and we’d keep logs on the fire, read books, Daddy would tell stories, and there was a huge abundance of things to do.

What I remember most was how much fun it was living like pioneers. We would drape extra blankets over the doorway to help contain the heat. If you needed the bathroom you’d bundle up, go outside, and get behind some bushes. Keeping Cokes and ice cream was no problem and we would melt snow, boiling it, to keep the dishes clean when the pipes would freeze. They do that when it is zero degrees.

And when I tell my kids that I would bathe using a washcloth and a basin of water, they still swear I am lying. This was 56 years ago but I still remember yelling at my brother Jonathan to “bring some hot water … I’ve got soap in my eyes!”

The phone lines were down but we had a Philco radio that was battery-powered so listening to “Luther” on WDEF was our only window to the world. Every so often the police would come by, I suspect more interested in a fried-egg sandwich and hot coffee, than our welfare. Some of the other families that stayed would hike through the snow and ice to come by and visit almost every day and it was glorious fun.

Soon the house was full of people. We would play cards, sing, and soon we were delivering groceries by sled to those who couldn’t get out. I’m telling you, we had a time, and I remember every dog within a mile bunked in with us too.

It took two or three weeks to dig out, this after the power came back, and only now have the trees had the years to finally get big again. Over 50 years ago we had to learn poetry in school and I remember when the elementary school reopened after two or three weeks, I knew Rudyard Kipling’s sensational poem “If – “ by heart.

I stood and recited it for extra credit … and still got a ‘C’ in English. But the words have been dear friends to me ever since.

* * *

“IF” by Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;

If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;

If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,

Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!

* * *

I wish everybody could spend a week without telephones, computers, running water yet surrounded by the laughter of those you love. Trust me, “you’ll be a man, my son.”

royexum@aol.com


The Dollar Value Of The Trump Administration - And Response

Roy Exum: Walmart vs 535 Morons

Roy Exum: Swimming With Jim Morgan


I wanted to add to Roy Exum's "reveal" article helping us all understand just what the cost of running the government is. I went just a bit further this morning asking this question, what is ... (click for more)

There is an anonymous paper on the Internet that tells how Walmart could do a better job running America instead of the pompous flops and duds we send to Washington. Please try to connect the ... (click for more)

I’ve never talked much about this – it is too close to bragging – but in my teenaged years I was a good swimmer. I loved being in the water and maybe the greatest compliment back in the day was ... (click for more)


Opinion

The Dollar Value Of The Trump Administration - And Response

I wanted to add to Roy Exum's "reveal" article helping us all understand just what the cost of running the government is. I went just a bit further this morning asking this question, what is the president's staff and about what does it cost the taxpayers each year? Now assume you are very satisfied with Trump no matter what the cost, then this article will only bolster that support. ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Walmart vs 535 Morons

There is an anonymous paper on the Internet that tells how Walmart could do a better job running America instead of the pompous flops and duds we send to Washington. Please try to connect the dots on Walmart’s 1.6 million employees and the obscene profits that they make versus our 535 members of Congress who blow through money while “WallyWorld” churns out an average of $20-thousand ... (click for more)

Breaking News

DA's Office Will Not Prosecute Charges Against Man Who Was Beaten By City Officer

The District Attorney's Office said it will not prosecute charges against a man who was beaten by a city police officer after a traffic stop. The DA is dismissing charges against 37-year-old Fredrico Wolfe. Wolfe was charged in an incident last March 10 with DUI, violating the implied consent law, tampering with evidence, speeding, drug possession and resisting arrest. ... (click for more)

Hamilton County Schools To Close Thursday Due To Expected Ice On Roads

Hamilton County Schools will be closed Thursday due to forecast rain to last through the evening and freezing conditions to follow after 2 a.m. in the higher elevations in the county. Freezing conditions are expected to last until the afternoon in the higher elevations impacting travel in the area. Athletic events will be rescheduled and practices canceled Thursday evening. ... (click for more)

Sports

Massey Brings "A New Excitement" To Silverdale Baseball

Over the last few days, Chattanooga has been dealing with a brutally cold weather system that struck like a frigid shockwave from the northwest. Throw in yet several more rounds of rain nearing the cusp of sleet or snow and high school basketball teams heading down the backstretch of the 2018-19 regular season and it made Tuesday an odd time for baseball talk. Yet, Jon Massey, ... (click for more)

#1 Tennessee Escapes With Overtime Win At Vandy

In their first action since being elevated to No. 1 in the nation, the Tennessee Vols barely escaped with a win at Vanderbilt. Tennessee started with a 15-2 lead, but trailed by six late in the game on Wednesday at Memorial Gymnasium in Nashville. The Vols rallied to tie at 76-76 and Grant Williams, who scored 43 points and hit all his 23 free throws, had a chance to win it. ... (click for more)