Top of Utah Voices: Snowy days in Northern Utah

Dec 23 2013 - 2:47pm


Today, I planned to write about readjusting to Utah's silly liquor laws (and I still plan to soon), but last Thursday's snowfall bumped that rant. 

In high school, on snowy days like last Thursday, I drove my little 1979 Datsun pickup to the top of Lake Street and spun my wheels into the high school parking lot. With only rear-wheel drive and some sandbags thrown in the back of my truck, I weaved in and out of the snow trenches that redefined the laws of driving, as left and right no longer mattered but just making it to the top by any route did. That little truck outpaced much larger trucks with four-wheel drive and fancy Sedans that ended up spun out on the side of the roads. But, as I have extreme anxiety to be punctual - I'm the type that arrives early to an event and sits in the car until it's time to go in - I drove around the back ends of cars as their wheels spun and kicked up snow and made slick icy patches beneath them.

Only a few of us sat in our seats during first period on those days. Either our fellow students stayed home or they too had fallen victim to the piles of snow on the road. The snow covered the windows of the old building, and, within a few minutes, someone would raise his hand and ask our teacher, "Can we go?" He wasn't asking if we could go home. He was asking if we could go help. 

"Go, but get back here right after. No trips to Hardees or Grounds for Coffee or anything like that," our teacher yelled as we ran to our locker rooms to grab our coats and hats and gloves. 

We headed down Lake Street or 26th like fireman heading to rescue people. We felt proud for two reasons: we were good enough drivers to make it up to the top without getting stuck, and we got to act like heroes for the morning. Five or six of us found a spun out car, threw our hands down on it, and pushed until it was free - over and over until we had made it three or four blocks down the street and freed multiple cars.

Last Thursday, we all woke up to a foot of snow that covered ice from rain from the early, early morning. I pulled my son out of bed, carried him to the window, and, in his two-year-old voice, he had pointed at spun-out car after spun-out car and asked, "What's that?" I explained to him that people were stuck in the snow. "What's that?" he asked again when Toyota Tacoma pulled up, attached a toe rope beneath a car, and pulled it free. 

"That's a nice man," I said. I counted seven cars that got stuck just on our tiny four way stop. Men in trucks and young men walking down toward Ogden High School freed every single car before they went about their own days. One truck that was used to help free a car got stuck after the car had driven away, and all the other helpers ran over and freed it.

It's been years since I have seen snow like this. Tacoma rarely had snow. Kansas had snow but it either blew away or melted pretty quickly. 

Thursday morning, I thought about all that snow out my window. It's great for our economy. It's great for our reservoirs. And it's great for bringing people out who are just looking for a reason to help others during the holiday season. 

Happy Holidays to all! And stay warm, safe, and dry.

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