Thursday, January 03, 2013

The Winter of '79

The Bar at Blue Heaven, a great place for breakfast

Today in aerobics class, the Village People's "YMCA" played, a high-energy song that always brings back memories.  In the winters of 1977-78 Chicago recorded "coldest winter" and "winter of most snow."  Now if  you live in the Chicago area, winter weather records are no joke.

The winter of 1979 became both the coldest and the snowiest ever. I was enrolled as a data processing student at the College of Lake County in Grayslake, IL.  Enrolled in 5 classes, I made the drive to the campus several times a week in my almost falling-apart old car.   The new occupation of roof shoveling was born.  Our gutters got full of ice dams  and the water poured through the family room ceiling.  We had to drill a hole in the family room floor to let it all drain into the crawl space.  This was the winter I learned to swear like a truck driver.  That kind of winter.

The Village People saved me.  I listened to the car radio going to and from school, and the Village People were always on the radio.  They had a song called "Key West" that brought warmth to the cold northern Illinois prairie.  I told myself that some day I would go to Key West, and the whole idea of Key West, warm, sunny, far away at the end of the road appealed mightily to me.

The car finally broke down and I got a new Sirocco.  I passed my courses and was one giant step closer to getting a job.  I loved computer programming.  The Village People kept pounding out the hits.  I went home everyday and whacked at the ice on the house, and I swore a blue streak.  Sometimes, you just need to use bad words.  

I got to Key West in the summer of 2002  and again a few years ago.  It was worth waiting for.  Hot and sunny with the chickens all over and Hemingway's cats lounging about his house.  Good food and drink.   Fine folks.   I put it in a book, which is what I do with all the cool places I visit.

Eating on the Beach
Wouldn't mind walking down Duval Street about now with snow on the ground and 5 degrees above 0 this morning.  Here's to the Village People.

The Blue Parrot--a great place for a drink or three

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