Blogs > Jim Collins' Editor's Notebook

Jim Collins is editor emeritus of The News-Herald and also serves as executive in residence at Lakeland Community College. His popular weekly column appears each Sunday in Comment in The News-Herald.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Willoughby winters can be brutal, but brighter days are ahead

I was thinking about spending the rest of the winter in Florida, playing golf.
I think about a lot of things I’ll never do. I used to think about playing Majong with Jennifer Lopez – until the lady of the house told me to cut it out.
I will say this about those two ladies, though. They are both exceptionally good looking, although the parts Jennifer has had in movies are much larger that the roles the lady has played.
I have never told you about those movies, although I must say the roles she played would have to be considered somewhat minor.
Beyond that, she has asked me not to talk about it. I must say this, though: The nicest person she ever worked with, in her opinion, was John Ritter, who was a big star on a TV sitcom (which I didn’t watch) and he died at far too young an age.
She said he was a prince of a man, and I feel constrained to point out that she is very good at evaluating princes among men.
But I digress. Let’s get back to the weather. Now that we have dispensed with February, let it be said that it was one of the nastiest spells of weather we have ever endured.
There is an old joke about bad spells of weather, but I won’t repeat it here. Just for one example, however, a bad spell would be “whether” when referring to global warming which, come to think of it, isn’t really such a bad spell when you think about it.
Unless, of course, you are a true believer in the nasty global “warming” trend that has enveloped us in early 2015. Fie on it, I say. Fie.
I’m not sure what “fie” means, but I think I read it in a play by Shakespeare. Or maybe it was Tennessee Williams. Or Tennessee Ernie. Some author of note.
But if you think this winter has been miserable, I direct you back to 1977 and 1978.
One of them was noteworthy for deep snow and the other for sub-zero temperatures. I forget which was which, but one of those days it was so bad out that we couldn’t get the papers to the customers.
Now, one thing you absolutely cannot do in the daily newspaper business is miss a day of publication. So there was one day in either ‘77 or ‘78 that we delivered two papers in one day.
Yes, it was that bad out. But all the papers got delivered. Note: In today’s world a lot of people are reading the paper on their computers.
Two thoughts come to mind: If you read in on a computer, why is it called a “paper?” Also, does the snow ever get so deep that a computer can’t deliver the paper?
For real snow, I mean really man-sized, or, if you prefer, woman-sized snow, I give you Thanksgiving weekend of 1950. Now that was a snowfall.
We had just moved from our old News-Herald building on West Spaulding Street in Downtown Willoughby into our new building on Mentor Avenue, also in Willoughby.
That was before our present new building on Mentor Avenue, which is just down the hill from our previous new building.
Except that the newest new building is in Mentor. You could easily hit a wedge shot from one building to the other, except they are in different towns. It has to do with where the city dividing lines are located.
All of which has little or nothing to do with the Thanksgiving snow storm of 1950, during which we had three pressmen stranded in the building for two days.
Snow removal at that time was not as sophisticated as it is today. Nearly total traffic paralysis set it. Cars could not get down Vine Street through the newly created town of Eastlake. (It had been Willoughby Township.)
The Willoughby Armory was home to Companies C and D of the 116th Engineers Battalion, Ohio National Guard.
Both company commanders, Stan Shwartz and Jimmy Robinson, worked at The News-Herald.
They got out their tanks, full track-laying vehicles which had no problem with the snow, and delivered milk and bread along the side streets off Vine because nobody could get to the store.
My recollection is that the snow was 30 inches deep, although some old newspaper clippings say it may have been an inch less than that.
Whatever, it was substantial, even by present-day Boston standards.
The good news is that baseball season is almost upon us, the Indians are in spring training in Arizona, and the rigors of an awful winter are almost a thing of the past.
So think pleasant thoughts of palm trees swaying and cactus bushes doing whatever it is they do.
The smack of a baseball into a glove means only one thing – the ball wasn’t hit to me and thus didn’t roll up my arm while the batter ran to second base.


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