Monday, January 5, 2009

Memories on Monday - Winter Sidewalks

I grew up in a small housing developement west of Syracuse, NY and we had no sidewalks. My grandparents had a home in the city with just a few feet of sidewalk that didn't take long to clear. John and I have lived in several houses but only one had a sidewalk and because we lived along the main road the village plowed the walk in front of our house with a little bobcat and plow that was just the width of the sidewalk. It didn't take him any time at all to zip through town making the sidewalks safe but for whatever reason they did not plow the sidewalks on the side streets, that being the responsibility of each individual property owner. In that town you had until a set time each day to have your walk cleared or you were fined.

I worked only one day last December and my annual sidewalk rant began. My elementary route covers part of a village and although I've tried to work it out to pick up as many kids as possible right at the end of their driveway I still have four stops that are at corners. Only one of the sidewalks had been shoveled to the corner, forcing many of my students to wait for me in the road, a situation that infuriates me. It snows often and in goodly quantities here but how long would it take to shovel the kids a safe path to the corner? For that matter it probably wouldn't be a bad thing to have the kids do some of the shoveling!

I was ranting to Mom and she started talking about how her cousin, Jay Glover, used to clear the sidewalks of Buchanan, MI with a horse drawn plow. It was a wooden plow, just the width of the sidewalk and Jay and the horse travelled up and down the streets whenever there was snow. (There was a truck that plowed the street.) I'd love to know when Jay started this job and how the town handled snow removal when my grandfather was a child in the 1880's-1890's. Many of the family letters mention sleighing but I don't know if the roads were groomed for it.

John Reid has a great article at Anglo-Celtic Connections describing snow removal in Ottawa during the 1880's. He describes how they cleared the streets and then packed down the snow on the sidewalks, rather than removing it.

Jay M Glover was born in Buchanan, Berrien, MI, 18 January 1880 and was the son of Jay O Glover and Eliza Ann Alexander. He married Minnie Belle Haslett 28 May 1929 in South Bend, St Joseph, IN. She was the daughter of John A Haslett and Mary Elizabeth Blake and born in Bertrand, Berrien, MI, 8 July 1876. Jay and Belle lived on Mocassin Ave, Buchanan, MI, not far from the Carlisle family on Main St. As far as I've been able to learn they never had any children. Jay died at his home on 2 July 1949. Belle died 13 August 1951, Niles, Berrien, MI. Both are buried in Oak Ridge Cemetery, Buchanan, MI.


Miriam Robbins said...

We're having the same problem here, Apple. With 3 to 4 feet of compacted snow and ice (or slush, on those days when it warms up), the sidewalks are impassible. I don't know who is more lazy around here, the residents or the commercial property owners. This is one reason schools in the county were ordered closed today by the sheriff--that and there have been roof cave-ins and structural collapses all over this past week.

I worry about my son. It is difficult for me to get him to school (he attends a school outside our "zone" so I have to transport him) and still get to work on time. We have a great city transit system, but his stop is 6 blocks from school and no one is clearing the sidewalks. It's a busy street and too dangerous for him to walk in it from the bus stop to the school.

Tipper said...

Sounds like something needs to be done for the safety of the children. Worrying about so much snow-such a different world than here. I'm sure you know the jokes about if it flurries down south the whole town shuts down-the jokes are true!

Enjoyed the letter above.

Charley "Apple" Grabowski said...

I really hope that things get better out there soon! I whine about the snow but it rarely slows us down too much. We had a nice few warm days that lowered our pile. Ice tonight. Ice we do not deal well with at all!

I've only spent one winter in the south and now that you've reminded me that will be a future Monday post!