Saturday, February 14, 2015

Western New York Winter Weather By Harold Livingston Spencer, Jr.

Once again, the Cousins Blog has introduced us to new cousins! Googling for information on his Carson family, Harold Livingston Spencer, Jr. found and emailed me. Wonderful to get to know him as before this, he was merely a link in our family genealogy—second cousin once removed. Now, he is a ‘Carson Cousin’!

How are we related? Go back to Grandpa Taylor’s mother, Emma Carson Taylor. Lloyd’s mother had five brothers and two sisters. Sister Anna Carson was Harold’s grandmother. Anna married Samuel Spencer of Springville, and they had two daughters and a son, Harold Livingston (named after Jane Livingston, Anna’s mother) Spencer. Harold Spencer had two sons and so, here we have our Cousin Harold!

The Three Carson Sisters--Libbie, Our Emma, Anna

During our epic winter weather, Harold and I have been emailing family information and stories back and forth. Harold was kind enough to share these winter memories with the Cousins Blog:

Harold In Yorkshire, northern Cattaraugus County, New York:

Living in the Western New York Snow Belt is really not all it’s cracked up to be. Most of our heavy snows come early in the season - late October, November and December, sometimes even early January. Then, if it turns cold enough, Lake Erie will freeze over and cut off the supply of water which generates the snows. That usually puts an end to heavy snow. Then, it’s the cold temperatures we have to deal with.

 The big blizzard of 1977, which was deadly, was caused by snow blowing off the frozen lake, dumping huge drifts on the suburbs south of Buffalo. Actually, very little snow fell, but drifts were super high from the extreme winds. However, this past fall’s blizzard was caused by a weather system that did not oscillate, but ran the length of the lake in a very narrow, well-defined band and dumped all the snow for a number of days, on the suburbs south of the city of Buffalo. The band never moved right or left, just kept on bringing snow to those suburbs.

We here in Yorkshire, New York were just about 8 miles south of the band, and did not receive more than 6 inches of snow - but we could laugh about it - they got hammered, and we didn’t.

Last winter, and so far this winter, the weather has been like it was, as I remember it, in the 1950s. I worked for the NY State Health Department’s Roswell Park Memorial Institute’s Biological Research Station in Springville from 1953 to 1964. For 5 years I was the resident caretaker, and part of the job entailed snow plowing of roadways and parking lots. Many times I was plowing roadways until 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning, trying to keep ahead of the snow - sometimes with success, sometimes with no success. Then I went to work for the day, and that evening started all over again.

While living on Buffalo Street as a youngster in Springville, my cousin, Liol Washburn, whose family lived downstairs, while we lived upstairs, and I really enjoyed the winters. We would collect icicles from the eves of the garage building next door. Then we would get Aunt Harriet, Dad’s younger sister, to make some homemade ice cream.

 We knew all the best hills in town on which we could sled or toboggan. Some evenings, when we were a little older, we would sled on the sidewalks on Elk Street in the village, until, that is, the homeowners kicked us off. Sledding on the sidewalks made them really slippery. We posted a kid at the bottom of the hill at Main Street to warn of any cars ‘cause we usually went across the street. And the hill on Maple Avenue was really good, before the highway department began to spread sand and cinders on the street.

 Anna Carson Spencer, Harold's Grandmother

That was a great place to sled (in the street - not the sidewalk). One of the kids in town had a bobsled that carried six kids, and that was a great ride, too. It would go about 3 blocks, almost to Buffalo Street. Then came sand and cinders.

My mother, probably when I complained about being cold, reminded me that the day I was born, January 31 in 1934, the temperature hit 35 degrees below zero; but in recent years it has never been that cold, although as a kid I remember seeing 30 below. All the windows in the house were frozen over on the inside. Nobody in that age ever heard about insulation for a house.

One of the best aspects of blizzard-type winter weather, is when they call off school for the day. Only once can I recall, that school was out for a whole week. That was great! If it was storming, everyone listened to the radio stations from Buffalo, which would broadcast any closings for the day. When they announced the Springville schools, we all cheered.

For years Dad was the chief mechanic for the local school district’s bus fleet. And he also drove a school bus. When the winters got bad, he was always on call to help pull a bus out of a ditch somewhere in the district. I rode with him a few times, but never thought the weather was of any significance. Thinking about that now, I was very wrong, because the drivers have a huge responsibility.

In the early 1950s, the B&O Railroad ran right through the village of Springville. One especially severe snow storm, the northbound passenger train, headed for Buffalo, became stuck in a shallow cut just north of the village. I don’t recall how many passengers were on the train, but they were all taken off and spread around town in private homes, until the railroad got its wrecker train down from Buffalo. That would have been about 3 or 4 days worth. That was in the days of steam locomotives, and it hit the cut and was stopped in its tracks.

Thanks, Harold! We look forward to more stories from your Carson side of the family!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

What Snow Storms We’ve Been Having!--Blizzards of 2015 By Pat Kinsella Herdeg and Various Cousins

What a crazy few weeks we’ve been having here in New England. So, I asked cousins to weigh in from their parts of the country.

From around Cousin Country, we have all sorts of results— Read on!

Monday January 26th was when our storm hit New England. After having almost no snow to speak off all winter (a few inches at Thanksgiving), we had finally gotten some snow the Saturday before the 26th

I asked my immediate family to become Storm Chasers and tell us what the ‘Mighty Blizzard’ did to their parts of the country. I began my email thread with:

‘We should begin our storm Monday around 7PM. And, as Glenn just reminded me, if we lose power, our electric snow blower will be no help!! We are hearing anywhere from 12-30 inches.

 And, the Mayor of NYC--Be prepared for a 'storm like we have never seen'??!! Irresponsible!’

 Dad (In Greece, NY)chimed in at 12:36PM with –
 My Kindle said "feels like 6." Like hell, it felt like 10 below. --roads all dry though

I emailed back:

Getting ready. Brian (our son) has texted he is on his way over to fill up his truck with some of our fire wood. We have already taken in our pile as we have nine fresh inches of snow already from two days ago. Oil lamps are ready.

View Outside our Front Door Here in Acton, MA

Syracuse reporting here (my brother Tim and wife Rose):

4:30 PM   Gently snowing for the last couple hours, not much is sticking.  They are saying 1-3 inches tonight.  In the Syracuse world that basically means we aren't getting any snow at all. 

Then, the next day—Tuesday:

Northern Most Outpost reporting in (i.e. Pat in Acton):

The storm was slow to start, but every station said, 'Just wait, it will arrive.' So we waited. Glenn and I tag teamed--he went to bed and I stayed up. At 1AM I shoveled out three inches and the first of the snow plowed at end of street. Then I headed to bed.

At 6AM, Glenn snowblowed away 11 inches of light powdery stuff--no sign of snow plows since 1AM and Glenn went back to bed.

So, 23 inches so far!! A good size blizzard. And, yes, we still have electricity.

South reporting (My brother Tom),

Wow, what a let down here. I've got about 2 inches of snow on the ground and that is all. It is cold and the snowplows have been through the street about every 20 minutes, pushing around that said 2 inches. School has been canceled, but it wasn't much of a storm. By the way, our weather reporters have apologized for getting it so wrong.

Angela Kinsella, who is usually cavorting on the California beaches with her hubby and dog Riley, was in New York City for business. She tells us: Only 4-11 inches in NYC - hardly a "historic storm"!

Ted Lochner's Home, Spencer, MA

But, in Spencer MA, Cousin Ted writes:

The snow is still falling here in Spencer! Finally a respectable snowfall of 25 inches so far! Having grown up in Spencerport, NY, this is what I am used to. Love it, love it, love it!

 Jen Kinsella in Cicero, NY comes back with:

We have just about nothing here. Please feel free to keep it!

Cousin Diana—You have more snow than we do in Minnesota!

 Then, days later, Diana sent this picture and wrote: I was feeling left out cause we had so little snow that most of my yard was brown. Mother Nature gave us a couple inches dusting today.
Cousin Diana's Snowfall--Not Much for Minnesota!

That blizzard ended with Acton, MA getting 34 inches, the sixth highest in the state. Yes, winter has arrived!

Barely cleared roads and driveways and as you all know, Linus (since when did they start naming snowstorms?) was upon us. Acton got about 14 inches three days ago, which was not bad as long as our roofs all hold up under our 57 plus inches of snow.

Cousin Norma on the Youngs/Baker side lives in central New York and tells us that she got 15 inches and that was quite enough!

Jen Dalle Kinsella in Cicero, NY says they got 10-12 inches of snow which resulted in no school for the kids and dicey driving, and interestingly enough for this SnowBelt area, way more snow than they got all of January.

From Baker Cousins--Hi from Fred and Linda Emhof who are spending our winter in Lakeland, FL.  It’s tough to keep up with the shoveling of sunshine but we love every drop of it.

My brother Dan in Rochester wrote:  Looks like 10-15 inches here on Superbowl Sunday. (Editorial Comment—Superbowl—whole other subject—We are BIG Patriots fans, so much snow and much joy here in Patriots Nation. OUR 12th Man?—Tom Brady! But, back to weather).

My sister Sue in San Francisco tells us even stranger weather statistics:
We haven't gotten rain since early December and San Francisco got zero--ZERO--inches in January, the first time that has happened since they began recording rainfall in the Gold Rush Days of the 1850's. 
Going into our fourth year of drought, the reservoirs are gasping, the countryside looks like ash, land in the fertile Central Valley is beginning to subside as the farmers pump out the aquifers to try to save their crops, many of the ski resorts in the mountains are closed because there's no snow, and the snow that does exist does not have sufficient moisture content in it.
San Francisco's Seal Rocks--No Snow Here!

One cousin in the mid-Atlantic states begged: Could you spare a few inches for the snow-deprived southerners in the family?

Meanwhile, Cousins Julie and Wes just got back to Colorado from a vacation in Mexico.
Julie writes:

 My wardrobe filled one suitcase. Wes's consisted of 1 pair of socks, 2 pair of undies and 1 pair of flip flops.  We caught snatches of the Superbowl game in Spanish (interesting) and continued our plight to empty the resort of rum drinks and margaritas at the swimming pool.

Judy Taylor Alberts writes: It has been chilly in Sarasota -- mid 60's -- we are getting to use our sweaters and jackets, while including this picture of their swimming pool to pour oil into the wound!

 Life is Tough at Judy and Jimmy's in Florida!

Jim Kinsella tells us:

Buffalo was hit by the storm of the century early this winter.  Syracuse was pummeled by several succeeding snowstorms.  Rochester, sandwiched between the two, got nothing!  Up until this past Sunday/Monday we had a paltry few inches.  Then the snow came...and it came...and it came.  It even resulted in a snow day, not something that comes often in Greece NY.  So what did we do...we skated on our enlarged ice-rink, built snow forts, and then cross county skied (first in our yard, then around the neighborhood).  We had school today but, upon coming home, we repeated the same things today.  It's been wonderful.  We LOVE winter (bring on the snow)!!!

So there you have the round up of cousins. I think over all, most of us DID grow up in wintery country, so we are used to it and enjoy it. As Ted Lochner said, it reminds us of our youth.

Just shoveled another three inches of fresh but wet snow and this weekend brings another 18 inches?! Truthfully, THIS time round, Acton could use what New York City got last time—not much!

Stay safe and warm around Cousin Country!