The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

Apparently, the crossword puzzle that disappeared from the blog, came back.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Blizzard of `89

I woke up to the sound of a waterfall. And Faye yelling for help. Maybe it was actually Faye that woke me and then I heard the waterfall. It had been cold the night before, very cold. Freezing, in fact. Temps in the low 20's. You scoff? You snicker at what I call "cold?" This wasn't some frozen tundra like Minnesota or winter wonderland like upstate New York. It was Florida.

Granted, it was more like southern Georgia... "it" being Jacksonville... And we get cold weather there but it rarely got quite that cold or lasted more than an hour or so when it did. This lasted a bit longer... several hours longer. There was also some snow. Yes, I said "snow." It wasn't the first time snow has fallen in Florida. Tallahassee has seen snow a number of times, if I recall correctly. It allegedly snowed as far south as Ft. Lauderdale back in 1977.

If we flash back some 23 months, we find Faye and Douglas living in Manassas, VA. when a snowstorm rocked the area and left some 18 inches of the stuff on the ground.

I was informed that it was time to move. And the transfer requests went out. The maximum of 5, all to points much further south. The northernmost one was for Atlanta, the southernmost one was just inside the Dade County line, near the Dolphins stadium.

It took another year before I got one of those transfers and it was to Jacksonville, FL. A place I had only passed through a number of times and knew little about except it smelled bad due to the paper mills that fed its economy when I was was young. But it was warmer than Manassas and it turned out to be a nice place to live because most of the mills had shut down or found ways to control the stench.

It was a good move. Until the Christmas weekend of 1989. That was when the Blizzard hit. Now, it wasn't really a blizzard. Not by any rational standards. But it was a situation that the city of Jacksonville was totally unprepared for.

Jacksonville is a city that sits on a river, the St. Johns, and that means bridges to get in or out on the south and east. We lived in the southeast side, a place known as "Mandarin" locally. I had about a 20 mile drive to work. An easy commute, especially at 11:30 PM and 8:00 AM, most days. Weekends and holidays were even easier.

I had worked the 23rd of December on my night shift and was sleeping when the fountain erupted in the front yard. Faye heard something hitting the window in the computer room and noticed the roar of the water. Looking out the window, she saw the water spraying out from the broken valve for the sprinkler system. She woke me when she could not find the cut off valve by the water meter. The sun had finally warmed the pipes enough to melt the ice inside them which had cracked the valve. It took me some five minutes to find the cutoff and shut off the water. It did not affect the water for the house, the sprinkler system was on its own meter.

A fine start to the holiday weekend. I went back to sleep, rising at my usual 6 PM. I was due in that night again and the next. The man I was to relieve that night was going on vacation. I never made it. I called my boss that evening after learning that the city had shut down all bridges over the St. Johns due to ice. No one was coming into or going out of Jacksonville that night. There were no salt or sand trucks to make the bridges safe. There was no way for me to get into the office. The boss reached out to find a replacement who lived on the "right" side of the river. He ended up in a ditch after sliding off the icy road on his way in.

I drove in the next morning, carefully negotiating the ice covered roadways. And drove over the only bridge that was open. Someone had realized that all that was needed was a couple of dump trucks and some sand from the beach. I relieved A.B. and wished him well. It was only later, after a 90 minute drive home because of gridlock after Holiday Sunday services at the First Baptist Church downtown, that I learned that A.B. had slipped on the icy sidewalk and broken his arm.

Here's a YouTube video showing some of the Great Blizzard of `89... That is not me in the video.

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