Saturday Single No. 66

Originally posted April 12, 2008

We ended up with between eight and ten inches of snow from the Thursday/Friday storm, enough to snarl traffic Friday morning when the thick, wet flakes were still coming down. The Texas Gal headed to work in the worst of it – as I wrote yesterday – and she emailed me after she got to her office: “Don’t even try to get out today. It’s pure madness from all directions and getting worse.”

By the end of the day, however, the snow had stopped, the city had plowed the streets, and the temperature had risen enough that the sidewalks and parking lots were clearing. Whatever inconvenience there might have been was over. For a few moments, however, the mini-blizzard of 2008 put me in mind of another Friday when snow fell, a January Friday in 1975. But then, the snow kept up until Sunday.

Wikipedia calls it the Great Storm of 1975. Here in Minnesota we call it the Super Bowl Blizzard, as the Sunday when the storm faded was the same day the Minnesota Vikings lost a Super Bowl for the third time, falling 16-6 to Pittsburgh. Mournful cries and angry curses echoed off tall snowdrifts throughout the Upper Midwest.

The snow began to fall Friday morning. By that afternoon, it was apparent that – as we’d been warned all week – the storm was going to be a big one, and classes were canceled at St. Cloud State. Those few of us at The Table who’d hung around for the afternoon headed home. About twenty minutes after I got home, there was a knock on our door. My friend Larry, who lived in Elk River, a city about thirty-five miles away, stood on the step. He’d gotten about five miles out of town before deciding there was no way he could get home. So he retreated and came to our house. This was Friday. He didn’t get home until Tuesday.

All Friday night, most of Saturday and into Sunday morning, the snow fell and the wind blew. We got, if I recall correctly, about two feet of snow, and the wind blew it into oddly shaped drifts all over, leaving some parts of the streets with a scant few inches of snow and other sections nearby buried under four to five feet. There were times, of course, when the snow let up for a while. During one of those on Saturday, Larry and I walked across the intersection to Rick’s, where we joined him and a few friends who’d also taken advantage of the literal lull in the storm in a ferocious game of Pit, the commodity-trading card game.

When we left Rick’s a few hours later, we walked another two blocks and went across the railroad tracks to the Dew Drop Inn, a neighborhood beer joint. We were the only customers there, but we knew the place would be open; the proprietor lived in an apartment in the back of the building. We sat at the bar, splitting a pitcher of beer and munching on pickled turkey gizzards as the wind picked up outside and the snow began to fall again.

We grumbled as the Steelers dominated the Vikings on Sunday. On Monday, when the snow had finally ended, I walked a mile to the library at St. Cloud State and manned the periodicals desk all day while Larry and Dad shoveled snow; I got the better end of that deal. By the time Tuesday dawned and the roads had been cleared, Larry was more than ready to get home to Elk River.

We’ve lost touch with each other over the years, but for a while Larry and I were pretty good friends, and from time to time, we’d laugh about the weekend of the Super Bowl Blizzard, about the game of Pit and the beer at the Dew Drop Inn, about listening to records in the rec room while playing board games. One of the records he always said he remembered was my latest acquisition, Songs for Beginners by Graham Nash.

And that’s why “Be Yourself” from Songs for Beginners is today’s Saturday Single.

Graham Nash – “Be Yourself” [1971]


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