Baltimore snow
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Baltimore Snow

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In his Baltimore accent, my dad used to say, “If you don’t like the weather in Balmer, wait five minutes, and it’ll change.” I didn’t know then that this is something Baltimorians say all the time. I thought he made it up! In any case, it’s the truth. In fact, that’s exactly what has happened as I write these words. Yesterday was below freezing. Today is 54°! It’s like going from Alaska to Florida overnight without having to board a plane!

The No-Guests Wedding

Not surprisingly, no serious snowstorm had been predicted when my parents were married on March 29, 1942. It turned out to be one of the worst snowstorms, 14 inches, that covered all of Baltimore. (It’s still in the top 15 snowstorms.) They couldn’t change the wedding date, as all the arrangements had been made. Plus, this was during World War II, and my dad was in the Merchant Marines. He had a three-day pass before returning to his ship.

Everyone walked from my grandparents’ house on Shirley Avenue to the rabbi’s home, about two blocks. My mom walked behind my grandpa, stepping in the tracks made by his boots. After the ceremony, they all trudged back to my grandparent’s home. It was a small gathering of Mom’s parents, Dad’s mom (his father had passed away years earlier), Mom’s sister Lil and husband Ducky, and her two brothers, Jack and Bob. There was no caterer, so my grandma prepared lunch. Much to my chagrin, the photographer did not show, so there are no photos of their wedding.

After the wedding, my newly wed parents were to stay at a downtown hotel for two nights until my dad shipped out. That never happened. They slept in Mom’s room at home.

Snow Fun

There were many snowstorms when I was a child growing up in Baltimore. We loved the snow. Bundling up in our warmest jackets with sweaters underneath. Wool hats that we didn’t care itched. Sometimes earmuffs. Gloves or mittens. And boots. I loved wearing boots! I used to pretend I was a brave soldier like the ones in WWII, or a police officer or firefighter. Of course, no women held these jobs back then, so sometimes I pretended I was an Eskimo!

We would romp in the snow, make a snowman or snow angels and throw snowballs at each other. None of mine ever hit the target of one of my siblings. When we got too cold or hungry, we’d come in the house and shed all our outer clothes on the runner in front of the door. We’d line up our gloves and mittens on the radiator. They looked like tired soldiers resting from a brutal battle. After some hot chocolate, Mom made us march down to the basement and hang our wet coats and hats on the clothesline.

Sometimes the electricity would go out, and Daddy would build a fire in the fireplace that was in the living room. We’d all get our sleeping bags and sleep in front of the fireplace until the heat came back on. It was an adventure that we loved. I can’t say the same for Mom, but she was a trooper about it and made it feel like fun.

The Best Snowstorm Ever

The one snowstorm that really stands out, however, was March 18, 1958. We had an accumulation of 12 inches. Schools were closed for two weeks! This was before the city had the equipment to really clean up the snow. There were no snow tires. People put chains on their tires, but this was not an easy task, and many people just waited it out. (I bet those chains didn’t help tires to last longer!)

We couldn’t really go out and play in the snow, as it was just too deep. No one had boots that wouldn’t be covered by the snow with their first step. Poor Mom. Pregnant with her fifth child, home all day with the four of us whining about boredom after two days. My dad had a gas station and towing service, so he was out helping drivers from dawn ’til dusk as we were driving Mom crazy. She had to think of something. There were just three TV stations then, and after early morning cartoons, there were soap operas and not much else. We played cards and board games, but soon we were the other “bored!” What to do?

Drastic Measures

Baltimore snow mah jongg

Mom decided to teach us how to play Mah Jongg. Marcia was 15½, I was 13, Chucky was 10½ and Ricky was seven, too young to play. I’m not sure what he was doing while Mom taught us, maybe watching morning kiddie cartoons on TV, reading or just playing with toys. He was pretty good at amusing himself.

Surprisingly, we actually had fun learning. It’s not a difficult game, similar to Gin Rummy. We were used to playing card games as a family. But learning Mah Jongg made me feel like I was in Mom’s inner circle of this mysterious Chinese game. The suits had funny names of Bams, Cracks and Dots plus Winds, Dragons and Flowers. I’m the only one, however, who truly loved the game and am playing still today. Though more flowers and jokers have been added, it’s the same game. I love meeting with my Mah Jongg friends weekly for a wonderful afternoon of playing. It doesn’t even matter if I win or not (though, of course winning is definitely more fun than losing!)

But Now…

There have been plenty of snowstorms since 1958, and most of the time, I love to see it and then love to see it disappear quickly. The allure of snow in youth is gone after 50+ years. I hate bundling up to clean the porch, steps, driveway and car. It’s strenuous, and I’ve aged considerably. Stuart is older than I am and not well. It’s just as hard for him as it is for me. The two young men who live across the street used to do this for us, but they are both off to college. Now we have to try to find someone else to do it.

Once the car is cleaned and the roads are safe, I’ll venture out. But there are crazy drivers who are impatient and just think everyone should get out of their way! Believe me, I do when I see them. Actually, I don’t really venture out unless it’s truly important.

Alas, if only we lived closer to our children or grandchildren. They would help in a heartbeat. But, one lives 20 minutes away (and that’s not exactly next door.) The rest live in Howard and Carroll Counties while we live in Baltimore County.

Now, I mostly just stay home and enjoy the beauty of the snow. And pray it’s all gone before Mah Jongg day!

Please leave your comments below. 

Read more by Linda Miller.

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    1. Lisa, Thank you so much for reading my stgories and leaving comments. I think this is one every Baltimorian can relate to.

  1. I hated the snow as a kid, and more as an adult – so much so that at 47 years old I moved to Florida 🤣🤣🤣🤣

  2. Great story! Ken and I got married 12/26/76, and it snowed overnight. We had a lot of out-of-town relatives coming; all but one elderly couple made it. That winter, 1977, was bitter cold and I was sick for two months with sniffles, sore throat, sinusitis, etc. It was so cold that the Chesapeake Bay froze, something that happens maybe every 100 years. I guess I don’t have many fond memories of snow but my kids do—all the big storms when school was closed for days. I do recall a blizzard in 1966–powdery, drifting snow was everywhere. We were stuck for days.