SOME FLAKY TALES ABOUT A REALLY FLAKY TIME
Times Union, The (Albany, NY)
October 4, 1997
Author: MARK McGUIRE Staff writer
It was more than a storm; it was a touchstone. The Capital Region has endured its share of severe weather, from blizzards to severe windstorms to even the occasional tornado and hurricane. This one wasn’t even the worst.
Certainly more snow has fallen at one time than the 6 inches that came down on Albany on Oct. 4, 1987. But the damage it caused, and its totally unexpected fall arrival, left a mark on the region and its psyche.
But we don’t have to tell you: You told us.
The Times Union solicited readers to send in their stories from the storm. And you did, in the form of hundreds of e-mails, a likewise number of calls, a letter from prison, even a drawing from a then-5-year-old.
The stories are uniform and unique, of weddings canceled, cars destroyed, days without power, food spoiled, babies born and camping in living rooms. These tales almost invariably start with disbelief, then spiral into different recollections of perseverance and hardship and compassion and humor.
“The snowstorm was one of those events, not unlike one of those national tragedies (JFK assassination, Challenger disaster) in that, if you were there, you remember,” Roger Green of Albany wrote. “I’ve been to many parties where people compare their snowstorm stories.”
Everybody does have a story. Here are but a few:
Here’s mine – I was living in the West Hill section of Albany, on Second Street, between Ontario and Quail Streets. Since I was home on that Sunday morning, watching CBS Sunday Morning, I must have been having one of my periodic spats with the pastor [who is NO LONGER THERE]. Suddenly, the power went out, and immediately after I got outside, I could tell why. A branch on a tree landed on the power wire leading to my house was pulled out, fortunately along the side of the house so I wouldn’t accidentally get electrocuted.
Later that day, I walked to work at FantaCo, which, a dozen blocks away, never lost power. The weird thing about that storm is that lots of people never lost electricity at all, or only for a few minutes, while some people were without it for days, or even a couple weeks.
Sunday night, I stayed at a friend’s house.
Monday, walking to the store, there was this beautiful disconnect. Sunny weather, this foreign white stuff on the leafy trees. And steam – lots of steam. I remember thinking at the time that it had what I imagined was rather post-apocalyptic. I wish I had taken pictures, for I found it eerily beautiful.
I bought the local newspaper, which looked…different. The Times Union building on Wolf Road lost power because of the wet heavy snow, so the TU and sister paper The Knickerbocker News put out a joint newspaper out of the Troy offices of their rival, the Times Record (now the Record). It was in the Times Record fonts. I still have that newspaper, somewhere in the attic.
Monday night, I stayed at home. By then, I had put my perishable food in the snow outside, and fortunately, the gas stove was working, so I ate some of the food I had purchased only the day before the storm. I listened to TV via my battery-powered radio by candlelight. One revelation: the TV show Cagney and Lacey depend on visuals, as well as dialogue.
Tuesday, after work, I stayed with another friend, and Wednesday, after work, with the first friend.
Thursday after work, I was increasingly excited to see that the light at Central and Quail was finally working, and Clinton and Quail, and Second and Quail. YES! Power was restored to my house! My perishable food was ruined, since it had reached 70 degrees outside, but at least I could safely buy more.
The strange thing about this storm was that it was highly localized. Some of the surrounding area had more than a foot of snow and a federal disaster declaration was issued. Ask people in Syracuse or New York City about this storm and they have no idea. It was more like the Buffalo snowstorm of 2006.