One of the better things about our location — the Piedmont in general, Chatham County in particular — is our location. I don’t mean that as double-talk or silliness but as a significant …
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One of the better things about our location — the Piedmont in general, Chatham County in particular — is our location. I don’t mean that as double-talk or silliness but as a significant benefit. Namely, that if the mountains or the beach or both qualify as a favorite place for you, then you’re not all that far away in miles or time from either.
Add to that the fact that our location is in a temperate zone where — most of the time — we’re neither too hot nor too cold, at least for extended periods of time. And now that the calendar has turned to March, we can expect examples of that as the spring season nears.
Every time we get to this place in the year, I’m reminded of several things about March — the grass is starting to grow and turn green, it’s usually pretty good kite-flying weather, soon the pollen will fly about and get behind the contacts in my eyes and we’ll have some warm days as well as some cool ones. For me, that means that wood-burning season isn’t over just yet.
It also means there’s living proof that the old nursery rhyme saying about March, that it comes in like a lion or a lamb and goes out like the other, is on full display. And that always reminds me of March 1960, when apparently a whole pack of lions was on the prowl, not just for the first part but for most all of the month.
In that long-ago and far-away day I was a mere child trying to navigate the details of the 5th grade. That particular month and year played havoc with part of that goal, however, for it was that month that we had snow each and every Wednesday.
In that day and age, “zoom” was what the Road Runner did to Wily Coyote every Saturday morning in the cartoons; “computer” was the fellow who could actually compute; and there was still such a thing as “snow days,” meaning we were out of school until the roads were passable.
Today, I’m told, that since classes can be offered by “Zooming” on the computer, there will be no more snow days, even if it gets as deep as an elephant’s belly. We learned this, of course, by being out of school for a year this year, more or less, another benefit of our friend, the coronavirus.
But in 1960? No way.
I can remember standing at the front door of my boyhood home during the first snow, watching the white stuff pile up several inches deep. So, there went Thursday and Friday school days. Eventually, it would warm up enough to melt during the day but would then refreeze Sunday and Monday nights.
You’ve got to remember that Chatham, with its 707 square miles, is a big land mass, and back then there were miles and miles of dirt roads in our county. So maybe — maybe — we’d go to school Tuesday, maybe, but come that night and Wednesday morning, Ol’ Man Winter would come calling again. And the process was repeated.
Again ... and again.
That month, as best as I can remember from the dusty pages of antiquity, we went to school maybe six or seven days, including a Saturday or two, which was a bummer since it made me miss the Road Runner and his zooming. Eventually, the state Department of Public Instruction simply forgave some of the missed days. (Maybe that’s why I struggle today with some things.)
Bad — or good, depending on your point of view — as those days were, however, they can’t and don’t compare with what those storm systems and some others did to places in the western part of our state.
In Boone, during late February and well into March, seven feet of snow fell. In Watauga County, some snow drifts were more than 10 feet high, blocking roads for days. Nearby areas reported the same conditions with Ashe County reporting snowdrifts 20 feet high. In some places in the mountains, snow covered the ground well into May.
So what are we in for this year? Stay tuned.
With a record like that one, though, it’s no wonder the riddle I asked one of my older granddaughters the other day makes sense.
“Why is the calendar tired on April 1?” I asked her.
She offered few guesses, finally giving up.
“Because,” I told her, “it just finished a March of 31 days.”
Bob Wachs is a native of Chatham County and retired long-time managing editor of the Chatham News/Chatham Record, having written a weekly column for more than 30 years. During most of his time with the newspapers, he was also a bi-vocational pastor and today serves Bear Creek Baptist Church for the second time as pastor.