Snow Now and Then

Three inches of white stuff and only two or three cars on the Thruway. We’ve become Californians, blanching at a bit of snow.

One hundred and twenty years ago, March brought New Yorkers the Great Blizzard of 1888. Snow fell to a depth of twenty one inches over three days, paralyzing the whole East Coast.

Madison and 49th Street, 1888

I came across dozens of pictures of the Blizzard in Yonkers, New York, when I was researching The Women of the House. I was so mesmerized, I felt like switching to write a book about the snowstorm in gilded-age Yonkers rather than the stone house Margaret Hardenbroeck built there in 1682. Bowler-hatted merchants outside snow-mounded shopfronts. The Yonkers train station, plowed under. Ladies dragging their hems through the drifts. Children scaling mountains of snow.

The Great Blizzard wasn’t all fun. Milk and coal totally ran out. Four hundred New York city residents died, hundreds were trapped in the snow. No trucks meant that snow had to be removed by horse and cart to be dumped in the East River.

But on a day like today, looking out the window,  I would love to experience the drama of that time.

p.s. Snow Cream: Set a pot outside to collect clean snow. Stir in vanilla and milk to taste.


Filed under History, Jean Zimmerman, Nature

2 responses to “Snow Now and Then

  1. A sleepy set-down by the fire isn’t a bad way to pass the time during a blizzard.

  2. Gil Reavill

    There’s a big blow coming mama
    It’s gonna rattle the windows tonight
    Let’s stay inside the cabin mama
    Underneath that blanket of white

    Sit me down in the chimney corner
    As long as the blizzard lasts
    Stoke the fire a little warmer
    And we’ll dream about the past
    Yeah sit me down in the chimney corner
    Fetch me my old guitar
    I’ll play the old songs ‘til morning
    While the wind blows away the stars

    We’ll hunker down here with our music
    Let the world out there fall apart
    All the while the storm is raging
    You’re safe inside my heart


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