Winter weather brings surprises
By Clif Knight
This past weekend’s weather – a mixture of rain, sleet and snow – created a brief picture of winter and left many wondering what might be left of the season’s surprises.
I was reminded of a long string of weather oddities I have experienced in my lifetime. One of the most memorable occurred when I was a 4-year-old farm boy.
As a sharecropper family, we lived less than 100 yards east of the Clay/Randolph county line on a large farm owned and operated by my father’s oldest brother. We were obligated to make a crop on the farm for one year while our father was awaiting the opening of a public job in Etowah County.
Our house had seen its best day, to say the least. It had no underpinning, no floor covering, no electricity and no plumbing.
In my mind, its biggest asset was a clear water creek that rushed by a few steps from the front door. A pool of foot-deep eddy water where the stream intersected with a dirt road provided a safe water hole for us kids to play in as well as meet our household needs. Wagon teams occasionally stopped in it to let their teams drink, and motorists sometimes stopped in midstream and used the water to wash their vehicles.
A night-time game my younger brother and I played in our double bed was to shift our positions to catch a glimpse of the stars shining through the cracks in a tin-top roof. Much to our surprise one fall morning, we awoke to discover a thin coating of snow on top of the quilt we slept under. We rushed to the front porch to get a closer look and jumped up and down in excitement over witnessing our first snowfall.
Later, my older sister and I walked to the school bus stop 200 yards away with the help of my father. Both she and I struggled to walk in the foot-deep snow, but we made our first snowballs and threw them at each other and lay down on our backs and made snow angels.
Later that day we were treated to snow ice cream – another first.
In January1964, our young family of five witnessed one of Hartselle’s heaviest snowstorms at our rental house on Curry Street. The snow measured 12 inches on top of a charcoal grill in the back yard.
Another freezing rain and snow several years later knocked out the town’s main electric generator on Christmas Eve and left some families without power for three to four days.