The Coolest Snow Day Ever – Hamilton, the City of Ice


A Kid's Dream Come True

A Kid’s Dream Come True

We transferred to California in 2004.  We left a house in Ohio which we sold for $200k and felt pretty good about the sale.  What a shock it was when we arrived here for our house hunting trip!  Holy cow, nothing had prepared us for the price war going on in the Sacramento area.  Keep in mind, this was right smack in the middle of the giant bubble that was building in the housing market.  The bubble was one part of it.  The other part was not apparent yet.  Every house, almost every house we looked at was priced a good two and a half times the equivalent house in Ohio.  What the heck – how many doctors and lawyers could there possibly be here!?

I think it was evening number three, as we were sitting outside on a dining patio of a Mexican restaurant when all of a sudden it hit me; it’s the weather!  No humidity, no insects, mild temperatures and even when it’s hot during the day, there’s always a 30 degree temperature reduction, making the evenings fabulous.  No wonder housing prices are so high.
So, the other day we were watching The Masters, (aka the Justin Meltdown), on tv.  The course looked beautiful but man, all the insects buzzing about.  It made me cringe a bit – am I ever going to miss this beautiful California weather!  What I really don’t miss about the weather back east is the cold.  Every now and again we’d have a mild winter in Ohio, but for the most part it’s cold for 3-5 months.  I remember a few winters of subzero temps, but mostly what I remember is having to wear gloves in the house because my knuckle joints would ache all day.
As a kid, we loved the cold.  Cold weather could bring lots of snow, possibly giving us kids a snow day.
Snow day – kid jargon meaning ‘hallelujah, no school today, let’s all play outside all freakin’ day until our fingers turn black from the cold’.
My favorite snow day was actually 3-4 days in a row, I think the winter of 72-73., (I think it was 72-3, might have been 73/4).  The ‘snow’ actually was ice, a horrible ice storm.  Well, horrible for the adults that is.  For us kids, it was pretty much a prayer answered by God.  You see, pretty much the entire southwest corner of Ohio had been blanketed by a whole inch of ice.
By the way – if any Hamiltuckian figures out what year this occurred, feel free to edit this Wikipedia Page and Put Hamilton on the map:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_ice_storms#1970s
It was the worst ice storm on record for Hamiltucky.  For two entire days, the city was crippled.  The weight of ice on electricity and phone lines, (no cell phones yet), cut power and communications in many areas.  The adults were going nowhere.  Government employees were working overtime to clear streets and restore the phones and power.  We kids hoped the temperature would never rise!
Ice skates!  If you had a pair of ice skates, you could be king of the world.  I didn’t own a pair, but someone I knew did.  If I’m remembering this correctly, I think Colin Cole loaned me his older brother’s skates, (Colin was mentioned in this story).  Hamilton has a branch of Miami University and the university had its own ice skating rink that was open to public skating in the winter.  If we weren’t roller skating, we were ice skating.
This was so nice back in 'my day'

This was so nice back in ‘my day’

I wasn’t the greatest ice skater but I could hold my own without cracking my skull on the ice.  On the second day of the great ice storm, (aka ‘Junior High Christmas’), Colin and I must have skated all over the entire west side of Hamiltucky.  From my house, we skated all down Cleveland Avenue until we reached the creek.  The weather had been cold the previous couple of weeks so we knew the creek would be frozen solid already.  The ice on the streets and the creek was not very smooth, but it was smooth enough for us to navigate and act like hockey idiots.
We spent a half hour or more on the creek until Colin’s skates slipped out from underneath him and he bumped his elbow on the ice.  This wouldn’t have happened if he hadn’t been acting like Bobby Orr, using a big branch as a hockey stick – his stick got caught up on something, flipping him around and landing him on his back.  We limped our way out of the woods and back up onto the streets.  How cool is it to be the only people able to make our way all around town?  The only vehicles we ran into that day were city trucks, trying to lay down salt and cut through the ice.  Every now and then we’d see walkers pointing at us, (no, not Walking Dead walkers), and once we even saw other skaters.  We skated over to the Woolco parking lot, then across town to Colin’s house.  I skated my way home late in the day.
On day three, there were lots of streets beginning to be cleared but the sidewalks still had their coating, for the most part.  By day four, all was getting back to normal and our little slice of ice heaven was all but melted away.  Darn, we had to walk on regular feet again!
It may be cold, but it's a major award (Italian too)

It may be cold, but it’s a major award (Italian too)

If you had access to ice skates, this week was a great time to be a kid.  Every now and again, all throughout my school years in Hamiltucky, we would be fortunate enough to be granted a snow day but nothing would ever rival the week of the great ice storm.  Today Hamilton is trying to make itself a city of sculptures, complete with its own ice in the winter – no snow day required.
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