The snow is falling…and I am not referring to the lyric from the well known song. Our forecast is for 6 – 12 inches of snow. Thats is a lot for Southern Illinois. It is 9 degrees above 0 with a 14 mile per hour wind which gives us a ‘feels like’ temperature of -9. Forty-two years ago this past weekend Little Egypt had a major blizzard. I had yet to begin working at Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale. Forty-two years sounds like a lifetime…but it is only a significant portion of mine at the age of 63. I am thinking of the unsung heroes of SIUC. The Grounds staff is, no doubt working non-stop to endeavor to get ahead of the most significant snowfall that we have experienced in several years. I have personally witnessed the herculean labor of this wonderful and often forgotten group of dedicated people who love their University! The chill factor is 9 below zero…step outside for just a minute…which is probably all that you need to expose yourself to… before the danger of frostbite sets in…and see what the outstanding Grounds Staff are undergoing to attempt to clear the roadways and sidewalks and steps and entrances to the university buildings…that we all enjoy using.
I spent my career in Building Services at the University. Most of the custodial staff works either the second or third shift. Their tremendous efforts at keeping our school’s buildings safe for our precious students and staff and faculty are constant and often not seen by the University Community. The continual mopping of snow melt and the drying of slick spots is never ending. The supreme dedication of the housekeeping staff is vital to the ongoing operations of Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale and all to often is taken for granted by the University Community. When I consider the physical danger that our dedicated Grounds and Building Services staff have undergone through the past 42 years…I am overwhelmed with their unwavering dedication to our University!
I vividly recall 42 years ago as MJ and I were dating and soon to be engaged. She lived in a house trailer and her Maverick, Ford was snowed in with 18 inches of snow. I proceeded over to her dwelling to shovel her car out of the drifts that occurred due to the blizzard of 1978! I shoveled for an hour and there was at least another hour to go. I looked up from time to time to ensure that MJ was watching my labors… I weighed 169 pounds. Perhaps you think that is a lot of weight…I was very thin at 6 foot and 3 and 1/2 inches tall. The thinnest of my adult life. The first year that we were married I gained 50 pounds… I had not been eating much.
Our short life experience tend to repeat themselves. I remember my thoughts at 21 years of age and my current reflections at 63 years old. They do not vary much. I have been privileged to be married and united with MJ for the past nearly 43 years. Our 43rd anniversary is March 24th. I recall what a treasure I considered her nearly 43 years ago…and I feel the same today… I recall the snow and blizzard of 1978…and my young adulthood and my excitement at believing that I was going to secure the hand of my beloved… I remember the cold winter and what I perceive to be our long life ahead…and I look out the window of my Loft Office in my home at 108 Ash Wood Lane in Carbondale…and I am amazed at the rapid journey that has transported me from 1978…to 2021.
Eldorado had a great atmosphere for a childhood in Southern Illinois. It was full of kind people and safe environments for children. I grew up in Southern Illinois although I had been born in Chicago, Illinois. I probably would have been a different adult if I had been reared in Chicago. Not worse…just different… I was born in the land of southern influence and country thinking. Much of it is beautiful and pleasant and to be desired. Other beliefs and convictions I have brought from my time in the city and an urban environment. My feelings have been formed by my christian convictions and my career at Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale. I am convinced that we all have value in God’s eyes. I know that he is not a respecter her persons or positions. I know that, ‘Jesus loves the little children…all the little children of the world. Red yellow, black or white…they are precious in his sight…Jesus loves the little children of the world.’