The alumni magazine for Franciscan University of Steubenville just sent out a call to alumnae for stories of weather-related memories from their time at Steubenville, whether it be from the campus or life in the city or at the campus in Austria. For some reason, I have quite a few weather-related memories from my years there.
I recall that the winter of 1992-1993 was one of the worst in my memory. Over Christmas break it snowed about every 3 days back home in Boston so I was ready to head back to Steubenville where it never got so deep I had to shovel. Right. After my 11 hour drive, I pulled up to the on-street parking in front of my apartment on Ridge Ave to find a giant, ice-hardened snow bank which I had to shovel right then and there so I could park my car and go in the house.
That January was also ridiculously cold with several days of subzero temperatures. It was so cold at one point, I recall walking from Starvaggi to J.C. Williams with no skin exposed except for a little slit between the brim of my wool cap pulled down over my eyes and the top of my coat collar zipped as high as it would go. I could see only the ground in front of my feet and I moved as fast as I could to get out of that bone-chilling cold. It was so cold it was difficult to catch your breath. That was the same time I got mild frostbite on my finger holding my keys to start my car one morning.
Later that year, in March, during Spring Break, we would get yet another blast of winter, this time an actual blizzard that dumped snow from Florida to Maine, including poor Steubenville whose largest snow removal equipment was pickup trucks with plows on the front. I remember the city being paralyzed for days and having to walk to campus through the snow to get to Mass.
We were glad to finally see that winter end.
In contrast to the snow and cold of winter, I believe it was the summer of 1994 or 1995, we had such a massive thunderstorm during one of the youth conferences that they evacuated the tents right before a huge gust of wind toppled the “big top”. Miraculously, no one was hurt.
That night, I was at a friend’s apartment with a large group, watching the lightning and enjoying the excitement of a citywide power outage. That’s when someone got the bright idea for a run to Drover’s over in West Virginia to pick up hot wings for everyone. (It might have been me.) As the resident Drover’s hot wings addict, I volunteered to go. I remember driving up the little road into the hills on the other side of the river, rain pouring down in sheets so I could barely see the road, lightning like flash bulbs going off overhead, questioning my own sanity for venturing out in the storm, when a lightning bolt struck just off the road. I nearly jumped out of my skin and drove off the road, but thankfully I was unharmed and the road was not blocked. Oh, but I did get those hot wings, you can be sure, after all that. And they tasted even better—if that’s possible—for all the effort it took to get them.
Back to winter, when I was editor of the school newspaper, The Troubadour, i used to stay late on the deadline nights, Wednesdays, I believe, to put the issue to bed and then drive the layout boards (yes, it was all laid out by hand back then in the Stone Age) to the local newspaper that printed the paper for us. One cold winter night, we had an ice storm and when I walked out of the building I fell flat on my butt. All the sidewalks and the plaza were sheets of ice. I managed to climb the hill to where my car was parked by clomping slowly through the snow next to the sidewalk, but when I got to my car, I had another problem: My entire car was covered in a half-inch thick sheet of ice and I had no way to get inside. Meanwhile the clock was ticking toward my deadline. I forget exactly how I solved the problem, but I believe it required me to return to the newspaper office, grab whatever sharp object I could find and then laboriously chip away at the ice holding my door shut until I could get in and turn the car on to melt the rest.
They say New England has rough weather, but Steubenville often gave us a run for the title.