The Way We Were: Winter storms

The Way We Were: Winter storms

The News-Gazette had its beginnings in 1852. While there aren't any folks around from those days, we do like to look back at our area's history.

That's what the new series is about. News-Gazette staff writer Paul Wood will collect groups of photos to spark memories from decades past.

Today, as the temps alternate between 58 and zero, the series starts with about 60 years of winter-storm memories — the hassles as well as the fun.

In the spotlight: 'I remember ... that tunnel so well'

Whether you're sledding down a hill or licking a light pole, winter is fun when you're a kid — no dreams of moving to Florida for many years to come.Here's our caption from a blizzard more than three decades ago:

Matt Larson, 9, left, and Marc Zollinger, 7, both of Champaign, dig tunnels in snow piled up by plows at Clark Park on Feb. 29, 1984.

Zollinger, now 41, has the memory of this moment engraved in his mind — being photographed tells him exactly what he was doing on that day, he says.

Now a Spanish teacher in Portland, Ore., as a boy he loved everything from feet of snowfall to even the ice storm of 1990.

"I remember waking up that day to the snow, and that tunnel so well," he says. "We had a lot of fun."

And lived to tell the tale.

There was also sledding, on a small scale — but then he was a small human person.

"We lived on Charles Street," he recalls. "There was a little tiny hill in our back yard, and it seemed like a big one then."

Zollinger went to school at Booker T. Washington in Urbana, where he lost touch with Larson, then Edison and Central.

A lot of snow meant being out of school, much more hassle for the parents than the kids.

State Climatologist Jim Angel remembered 1990's Valentine's Day ice storm as one of the area's worst winters.

"I always dread ice storms; they're worse than snowstorms because you're more likely to lose power. That Feb. 14, the ice on the lines caused people out in the country to lose power for many days. Even in town, (many) were without power for 50 hours."

Personal note: A friend of mine lost all her prized fish when her aquarium went on the fritz. My house never lost power.

Zollinger thinks the power at his house might have been off more than a week.

But for him it was an adventure.

"I enjoyed the beginning part when we lost power. We wore jackets in the house; that was fun. We finally had to move to a friend's house. My parents made the right decision. The power might have been off 10 days," he said.

Living in Portland, he misses snow. Most local drivers can't handle it when the streets get dusted. If they really want snow, it's on top of Mount Hood.