Top of the Morning, Feb. 10, 2014: From the archives
It was a time of kerosene heaters, candles and flashlights.
Of darkened streets and smashed car roofs.
Of tree limbs everywhere.
Valentine's Day 1990 was no treat to anyone. Ice coated trees throughout East Central Illinois, bringing the limbs down on top of power lines, houses and cars and plunging the area into darkness that, in some cases, would remain for weeks.
Driving home from The News-Gazette that night may be the most challenging short trip I'll ever take. Absolute darkness along Church Street was utterly eerie. My headlights illuminated fallen tree limbs jutting at all angles out into the street and not-quite-broken branches suspended above.
And power was out when I got home.
Fortunately, my brother lived in Champaign, hadn't lost power, and graciously opened his home. It was cramped, but there was electricity and hot water. Compared with many of my co-workers and others I knew in town, I was lucky.
If you've forgotten just what those days were like — or if you hadn't yet arrived to this neck of the woods — take a look at our photo gallery at news-gazette.com.
I'd forgotten about kerosene heaters, and so I was taken by surprise by the photo of the line of customers waiting to fill their five-gallon cans with fuel for heaters.
A "sighting" meant the power company crew was in your neighborhood, so maybe you were close to having electricity. For the first time in days, or maybe weeks.
I'm not sure I ever saw the photo of the 14-year-old studying by candlelight in St. Joseph because the power was still out a week after the storm.
Did you shop by flashlight at Diana Foods?
If you were here on Feb. 14, 1990, leave your memories in the comments or email them to firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll add them online.
From Shari Grindley:
I remember that day well. My husband and I helped deliver flowers for a local florist and were out driving from early morning until around 9:00 pm. Many of the houses we delivered to that evening were without power. I remember us sliding down a few driveways even with the van in Park. We spent a lot of time driving around fallen tree branches that night but we managed to get all the flowers delivered and get back home safely (to our own house without power). It was a scary time to be out on the road and something I hope to never have to deal with again.
From Nancy Stephens of Danville
Going to classes the next day made it obvious who lived in the dorms; they had hot water. As time went on, I think students were sneaking friends in to shower.