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The Armistice Day Blizzard

February 16, 2010

The writing prompt:
– reference a historical calamity
– use a word that has at least three homonyms, and use them all
– include a word used in English, but that is foreign (ex. chauffeur, mensch, padre)
– use the phrase: bull’s eye

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Comments always welcome!

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Armistice Day. That’s a phrase you don’t hear much nowadays, if at all, unless you’re talking to an old fella around my age. Sure, the day’s still there but it’s called Veteran’s Day now and while I admit to being an old stickler for tradition – I liked the old name, still do for that matter – the change made sense because from where I sit, if you’re going to honor veterans, then you should honor all veterans. It’s just a shame we continue making more with each new generation. Anyway, I’m wandering and I apologize for that. I was talking about Armistice Day and with all this snow making the news programs this winter, and all the talk of blizzards and such, it makes me think back to the big one: The Armistice Day Blizzard.

I was just a boy of 12 back in 1940 and that Armistice Day started out as something special. Here we were, moving into winter and we had spring-like temperatures in the 60’s. Who could believe we’d be getting weather this warm this late in the year? We Minnesotans are a hearty bunch and we don’t kowtow to winter’s threats, but this was a gift not to be ignored. A warm day like that so late in the year – a lot of folks decided to take advantage of it and take the day off from work and enjoy one last day of summer. Hunters took their boats out on the river for what looked to be a relaxing day of duck hunting and other folks took off for the lakes and parks. When you get a day like this in November you’d be out of your mind not to take advantage of it.

The weatherman – back in the days of yore we called them weathermen – told us it was going to get colder and we might get some flurries, but they never knew that within 24 hours we’d be smack dab in the bull’s eye of this storm. And what a storm it was. Started out as rain and then turned to snow. Later, the temperature dropped down low and the winds picked up and that storm wailed like a banshee, creating two to three foot waves on the rivers and lakes. By the time everything was said and done a day later, much of the state was blanketed with snow and 49 unfortunate souls, unprepared for the drastic and extreme change in the weather, lost their lives. It was a tragic day in Minnesota history.

© 2010 by Michael Fishman

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