Anxiety rose with the predictions of perhaps 3 feet of drifting snow by morning. By the time I made it to the carryout, a line already snaked from the register to the front door. Easy enough to grab a big bag of Beer Nuts and a couple of boxes of Swisher Sweets, but when I fought my way to the coolers, alas, every last case of Goebels was gone. So I settled for the last two twelve-packs of Mickey’s Wide Mouths.
The noon street scene was a bizarre chaos – bustling sidewalks, frantic bag-laden people in a full jog, even stop-and-go, bumper to bumper traffic, a sight usually reserved for Friday nights when the locals cruised uptown in their hopped up, straight-piped pickups to show off their sticker collection, flaunt the noise ordinance, and look for fights with frat boys driving pee yellow Trans Ams.
As my vibram soles propelled me across State Street toward home, a fellow Jeff Hall mate passed on his Honda 125, stopped in the middle of the intersection, shouted to jump on. Off he weavingly sped between the cars, me with my precious cargo gripped under each arm, trying not fall off backwards on a teeth rattling, wrong-way descent of brick-paved Jefferson Hill. Alas, once safely settled in Jeff Hall, we of the second floor gathered in the hall to take stock of our situation as flurries outside began to waft downward. Were we properly prepared to survive the full-on wrath of Mother Nature? Were we suitably girded for every possible scenario – loss of power, heat, or worse? Would they cancel mid-term exams if we were buried in snow long enough? Did anyone remember to buy some Wild Turkey?
Between the fourteen of us on our wing, we ascertained ourselves to be in fair shape for at least a three day encampment, with a combined 19 ½ cases and 11 quarts of beer, 13 tins of Vienna sausages, 4 pounds of Beer Nuts, 9 cheap cigars a piece, some beef jerky and enough Oreo’s to last a week if we rationed six per man a day. Then, as Mother Nature rarely chooses to do, she threw us a bone. Over the next 36-hours of what became the deadliest blizzard of the decade, if not recorded history, Athens got all of about 10 inches. That’s it. We of Jefferson Hall Second Floor were each taught a powerful lesson that perilous, freezing Hocking Valley weekend, one that could never be learned in any classroom, one that was never lost on us despite all the winters that have come and gone since. Don’t drink and sled.
Thanks to our conscientious action and thorough preparation, we survived the Great Blizzard (however mid-terms did exact their toll on several of us later). Don’t fool with Mother Nature. Be sure you, too, are prepared for anything, in a 40th Anniversary Hocking River Masters Classic t-shirt, an Athens favorite since 1978.