The Snow of 1983 a Tale of Three Days
by Jeff Baker
Note: This was originally published in The Vantage following a campus-closing snowstorm in January 1983. I present it here with only slight alteration for clarity nearly forty years later. Oh, and it references “Frosty” Sheridan. (For the record, I was a young Senior.)
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
Conversations on that fateful Monday January 31, 1983 tended towards the weather, more specifically, the predictions of snow for the late evening.
Many people spent the afternoon commenting on the light drizzle which occasionally sputtered from the gray sky, or in recollection of the many times when the weathermen had been wrong in the past.
By 8 p.m. the conversation had turned to comparisons with 1978, 1971, 1970 and even 1888. Snow was falling, or rather being dumped by malicious clouds.
The scene the next morning was of a campus enshrouded in a velvety blanket of white, albeit a thick one, and a miniature version of the Himalayas where the parking lot used to be. Snow continued to fall, making the valiant attempts to clear the sidewalk by Newman’s janitorial staff (led by Frosty the Snowman) wasted at best.
Driving conditions? Pitiful.
Would Sister JoAnn Mark, academic dean, call off classes?
No one really cared. It was near impossible to get from McNeill to the cafeteria, let alone to school from off-campus.
Snowbound, the students of Newman did the only thing they possibly could to survive under the circumstances.
The Town and Country Market began to run low on beer by Tuesday night. One party was, according to rumor, held continuously for two days, interrupted by occasional snowball fights inside the dorm room. Someone started humming the “Twilight Zone” theme as more snow fell.
Wednesday dawned drably, as symptoms of stir craziness began to set in. Snowfall started and stopped on-and-off during the day and evenings. Record albums were ground to fine powder from constant replay. During it all, nobody seemed to notice that it was February 2nd.
Thursday morning. The song “Winter Wonderland” has lost its charm. A 7:30 phone call from my Mom. She’s heard incorrectly that Friends and Newman are holding classes today.
“Mom…I don’t have any Thursday classes…”
Friday—classes resume! Yaaaayyy! Return to normalcy!
A bright-eyed, bushy-tailed instructor skips merrily into the classroom, freed from imprisonment in a suburban house with six kids and addresses the class.
“Is anybody here today? No? Oh well…” he says and begins to recite the day’s lecture.
In the sky, the clouds chuckle grimly, planning another evening onslaught of that unmentionable white stuff.
From The Vantage, February 10, 1983.
Written by Jeff Baker. Special thanks to editor Linda Panzer and Advisor (the late) Jeanne Cardenas. Oh, and The Vantage was the college paper I worked on at Newman University, then called “Kansas Newman College.”