But except for about a dozen snowflakes the other morning, it has in fact been a mild and snowless winter—not like the storied winters of the past.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m grateful not to be shoveling a foot of “storied winter,” but aren’t our recollections of the past often of those unusual and daunting times, especially when it comes to weather? The epic blizzards and snowstorms, the damaging floods, the tornadoes, windstorms and damaging straight line winds?
We tend to remember Mother Nature when she is either at her most stunning, or most threatening. As I look at the calendar, I wonder if Mother will have a surprise for us in March.
The weather can create moments in history that are memorable in their own right. While I’m not a life-long Ewing resident, I have lived in New Jersey my entire life, and here in Ewing for nearly 45 years. There have been a number of powerful winter storms which completely shut down just about everything.
I particularly remember the “Blizzard of 1996,” which actually met the criteria for a blizzard here in Mercer County.
The weather station at Mercer County Airport recorded 24 inches of snow, with poor visibility and three hours or more of winds at 35 mph or more. Streets, including nearby Route 31 for me, were completely buried and void of traffic.
Travelers were stranded everywhere. Some neighborhoods lost power. The snow continued for a few days, and was followed a few days later by more snow —and then melting, and rain and ice. Schools, workplaces and businesses were closed for days on end.
A few other major winter storms come to mind as well, including more recent ones, like the one dubbed “Snowmageddon” in 2010. While I wasn’t living here at the time, there was also a major northeast snowstorm in January of 1978 which crippled the entire northeast for days. How was it here in Ewing—does anyone remember it, or have stories to share?
Of course, for the child in us all, the storms are followed by days off from school, and winter fun outdoors, building snow forts and snow people, tubing, sledding, and skiing, and even sometimes skating if the ice is thick enough.
What were the best hills in Ewing for sledding? We occasionally took our kids to a hill behind New Jersey Manufacturers (which is now a parking lot I believe).
There were also hills at the Katzenbach School that were good for sledding. I vaguely remember hearing of some good sledding hills over at Mountain View Golf Course too, but we never tried them out.
Where were your favorite places to sled? And how about skating? Were there favorite places in Ewing to skate in decades gone by? Comment below.
Meanwhile, unless they are cancelled by a huge snowstorm, there are two events of historical interest happening in Ewing in March that you might be interested in attending:
On Sunday, March 8, the Ewing Historical Society will be holding a presentation by researchers and authors Beverly Mills and Elaine Buck on the ongoing creation of the Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum in Skillman, telling the stories of the African American community in central New Jersey. The talk will be held at the 1867 Sanctuary at 101 Scotch Road, beginning at 3 p.m. Admission is $10 for members of the Society, and $15 for the general public.
And on Sunday March 29, return to the 1867 Sanctuary at 2 p.m. for a sneak preview of a major celebration coming later this year.
Ewing jazz man Jerry Rife and his Blue Skies Swing Band will be on hand to musically celebrate the 130th birthday of music and jazz legend Paul Whiteman – who rests in a mausoleum just steps away from the Sanctuary. Whiteman and his music will be celebrated later this year – stay tuned!
Helen Kull is an advisor to the Ewing Township Historic Preservation Society.