1962: Big California Snowfall

Jan. 21, 1962. We spent two freezing hours trapped alongside an icy snow-covered highway down Merced River while Dad struggled, under the car, going numb, to free the big Oldsmobile from errant tire chains grapping the rear axle like an iron python.  I sat outside with Dad, going numb, trying to help but not helping beyond just being there caring. The grinding cold was lulled somewhat by Jay’s cheery voice narrating an imaginary baseball game. “Tell that one bye, bye baby,” in an imitation of iconic Giants broadcaster Russ Hodges. Jay announced a home run. We just wanted to free the damned car from its iron ankle bracelet.

To make the whole thing worse, this was the one weekend in a lifetime that snow covered all of California, not just the Sierra. Normally the ice and snow end by Yosemite Valley, or at least in the hills above Mariposa. This time we had snow and ice all the way through Mariposa, and Merced. By Los Banos it was so bad that we had to stop for a night in a motel before we tried to get over Pacheco Pass.

We finally got back to Los Altos the next day. It had snowed about three inches on Eastbrook Ave. Martha woke Mom up saying, “the whole world is full of snow.”

This was when Chip’s reaction our neighbors’ (the Knights) building a snowman was a dismissive “typical Knight trick.”