Continuing with my discussions of snowstorms for Blizzard Week 2016, I would like to tell you about the Blizzard of 1888 and a little boy named Leonard Blue, who was my grandmother’s uncle.
The day before the storm was warm and sunny. It was only one week before the start of spring. Daffodils had begun to bloom and the weather prediction was for “fresh to brisk winds, with rain, will prevail, followed by colder brisk westerly winds and fair weather throughout the Atlantic states.”
When people went to sleep Sunday night, it was raining. Everyone was caught off guard by what greeted them Monday morning—the “White Hurricane.” While the amount which fell in the city was recorded as “only 21 inches,” there were snowdrifts as high as the second floor of some buildings. Some areas of New York and Connecticut saw over four feet of snow, wind reached speeds near 100 mph, and the temperature hovered around zero.
When fourteen year old Leonard set out to work as a messenger that Monday morning, there were already huge drifts of snow. He was kept so busy he was unable to stop for lunch. At 2 pm he was sent to deliver a message to a man three miles away. He waited ninety minutes outside for a train, all while the wind and snow hurled around him. When he got to the address his employer gave him, he discovered that no one lived there.
No trains were running by then, so he began to walk—a mile and a half—before he fell down in the snow, exhausted and frozen, 3 ½ hours after he began his journey. He was found lying in the snow, unable to speak, by a stranger who brought him to his home where the man and his wife discovered that Leonard’s pants were frozen to his legs. He was badly frostbitten and in great pain, made worse by the fact that his left leg had been broken eight years previously after being run over by a farmer’s wagon. He spent the night with the stranger and his wife, and his parents (your three times great grandparents) were notified by a reporter from the New York Sun.
Moral of this story is that no matter how bad you think your job may be, it’s not as bad as that of poor little Leonard. None of you would ever be required by your employers to go out in a blizzard. They would have had to deal with me if they did.