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Jewish World Review Dec. 23, 2000 / 25 Kislev, 5761

Greg Crosby

Greg Crosby
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Consumer Reports

A nice old-fashioned winter -- WHAT CRAZY summer-like weather weíve had in Los Angeles lately. Even as snow falls in many parts of the country this week, weíve had temps in the low 80ís. Thatís hot even for Southern California. Not the best weather for singing "dashing through the snow" ditties. Personally, I was hoping for a cold wet winter this year. The colder the better. I like weather with some guts to it. I want to run my fireplace and cuddle up with a book, my dog and my wife (not necessarily in that order).

We need a nice old-fashioned winter. The kind of winters my father used to tell me about when I was a young whippersnapper. The winters where the sidewalks were so cold that you had to put strips of newspaper inside of your shoes to keep your feet from freezing. Where you had snow banks as tall as a man. And snow so deep that you couldnít even walk through it without getting soaking wet up to your waist. Winters so cold that when the wind blew you could feel the frigid air going right through your clothes and deep into your bones. Ah! Now thatís invigorating!

Thereís nothing quite like an old-fashioned back-East style winter. Winters that were so cold, that if you were outside you couldnít stand still -- you had to keep moving or else the blood in your veins would freeze up and you would become a human popcycle. Winters with Jack Frost nipping at your nose ...and other places. With icicles hanging from the roof tops -- and ponds and lakes frozen over. When going outside meant wearing seventeen layers of clothing. Yessir! Those were winters!

Once upon a time we had a winter like that right here in LA. Not like the wussy winters we get in California these days. Believe it or not, about 52 years ago, Los Angeles had itself an old-fashioned back-East winter. On January 10,1949 the Civic Center had over a half an inch of snow. Snow blanketed eucalyptus and palm trees. School was dismissed. Kids built snowmen in Glendale.

The white stuff covered the football field at the Rose Bowl. In the San Fernando Valley the snow fell for three days. And I was born right in the middle of it all. Thatís right, on January 12, 1949 I made my way into the world during the big freak snowstorm in Los Angeles. Coincidence? I donít think so. Some who know me well, even think the snowstorm was my fault. But I canít see that. After all, when I was born I was only a baby. It wasnít my fault that motorists were trapped in their cars in Laurel Canyon because of frozen radiators. Was I to blame when the temperature dropped below 28 degrees and the orange groves started to freeze? If they really want to blame somebody, they should blame my mother. Or better yet, my father. But I am altogether innocent, I assure you.

It would be interesting to see how the Los Angeles of today would react to a similar snowstorm. Of course, no one would be stranded in Laurel Canyon anymore, since everybody now owns a cel phone. The tragedy of lost orange crop is minimal as we have so few orange groves now compared with fifty years ago. Considering what happens on the streets and freeways now when we get a light rain, Iím sure a snowfall would turn traffic into a demolition derby nightmare.

Local news would hype the thing into the biggest event since the burning of Rome.

Breaking bulletins every fifteen minutes. Expanded coverage. Their graphic logos would scream out across the TV screens, "Blizzard Watch 2001!" And reporters would be out all over the Southland shoving microphones in peopleís faces and asking that hard-hitting question, "what do you think of all this snow?"

But one thing is for sure, the sight of our hills and eucalyptus and palm trees blanketed with a dusting of snow would really be something beautiful to see. Just donít blame it on me, okay?

JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. You may contact him by clicking here.


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© 2000, Greg Crosby