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Sharing Smiles: True Stories from After Fifty Living

The blizzard of 69

The Blizzard of ‘69

The blizzard of 69

In 1969 I joined the Army Reserve, attending weekly meetings, summer camp, and six months of active duty. We met in a dingy Manhattan room. Commander Goldberg ran these meetings like a summit in The Situation Room.

“Go home,” Goldberg ordered one evening.
I couldn’t believe my luck. Blood, Sweat & Tears was coming to my university! My roommate, the student event coordinator, promised I would meet my favorite rock group. I raced to my car to pick up my girlfriend and drive back to school. The car radio sputtered warnings.

“Stay off the roads, we’re getting a blizzard.”
I laughed. What did the weatherman know?

Ten minutes later flurries turned into heavy snow. My car slid like a pinball game without flippers. Then everything stopped.

I was stuck.

I saw lights from a roadside Howard Johnson’s and fought through the blizzard to the entrance. 150 people were huddled inside. Two Dragnet-type off-duty cops were organizing crews to cover everything from food to sleeping spaces.

“It won’t be long,” the cops reassured us.
We were there for two nights and three days.

A strange thing happened. We worked together! Everything from card games to newspapers was shared. Strangers smiled and talked. People laughed.

The sun returned on the third day. The blizzard left two feet of snow, thousands of stranded people, and a city forced to shut down. I learned something I’ll never forget – when times are tough people rise to the occasion. New Yorkers would prove that repeatedly in the difficult years to come.

B,S&T weathered the blizzard in my fraternity house, jamming, and sleeping in my bedroom. They were gone by the time I got home.

Richie Fink

Long Island, New York
[280 words]

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