With the approach of another winter season, I am reminded of a long string of weather oddities I have experienced in my lifetime.
One of the most memorable occurred when I was 4 years old.
As a sharecropper family, we lived less than half a mile east of the Clay/Randolph county line on a large farm owned and operated by one of my father’s brothers. The plan was to make a crop on one-fourth or one-third shares for a year while our father was awaiting the opening of a public job in Etowah County.
Our house had seen its best day, to say the least. It had no underpinning, no floor covering, no electricity and no plumbing.
In my mind, its biggest asset was a clear water creek that rushed by a few steps from the front door. A pool of foot-deep eddy water where the stream intersected with a dirt road provided a safe water hole for us kids to play in, as well as meet our household needs. Wagon teams occasionally stopped to drink, and motorists sometimes stopped midstream and used the water to wash their vehicles.
A nighttime game my younger brother and I played in our double bed was to shift our positions to catch a glimpse of stars shining through the cracks in a tin roof that had no ceiling.
Much to our surprise one fall morning, we awoke to discover a thin coating of snow on top of the quilt we slept under. We rushed to the front porch to get a closer look and jumped up and down in excitement over witnessing our first snowfall.
Later, my older sister walked to the school bus stop 200 yards away with the help of my father. Both she and I struggled to walk in the foot-deep snow, made our first snowballs, threw them at each other and lay on our backs and made snow angels.
Later that day we were treated to snow ice cream – another first.
In January1964, our young family of five witnessed one of Hartselle’s heaviest snowstorms when 12 inches of snow inundated our rental house on Curry Street.
The snow began falling late one afternoon and continued through the next day – fully 12 inches accumulated on the top of a barbecue grill in our backyard.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg! Several years later, a snow and ice storm practically paralyzed the city during the Christmas holidays. Temperatures dipped to zero degrees on Christmas Eve and forced organizers to relocate the $5,000 Christmas cash drawing from downtown to the J.P. Cain Football Stadium.
It was so cold, the lens on my camera froze shut while the drawing was taking place, and I hid it inside my heavy wool coat, awaiting the announcement of the winner.
Luckily, I got off two snaps and the image of the winner receiving the first-place prize from the contest chairman.