Thursday, February 20, 2014

Energy Crisis Blessings

The late seventies brought harsh winters, somewhat like what we are experiencing now. I've seen pictures on Facebook, asking if anyone remembers the blizzard of 1978. Compounded with the frigid temperatures was the idea we were having an energy crisis. No meetings, no basketball games, no running to the mall for two weeks created a dull atmosphere. As a teenager, I found being stuck in my home, as much as I loved it, an island of loneliness.
As we put on extra sweaters with the turned down thermostat, we possessed no cell phones, internet or even more than one TV in my drafty house to keep me connected to my peers like kids today. School canceled for days dragging into weeks to conserve energy with the coldest of temperatures. I hibernated in my room with the gas stove, throwing off heat in intervals, cold in between. I kept the patriotic spirit by doing as much as I could by candle light, taking baths, reading, writing or just dreaming. My early readings of Little House books and Abe Lincoln biographies bolstered my resolved. I always wanted to live in the "olden days." I think I slept a lot, because we knew the school was closed down, no anxious waits for the news in the morning.
The authorities toyed with the time, making it Daylight Savings Time, but kids waited for hours in the dark for buses. The national news aired families in Florida griping about the pitch black night. That seemed to be the only place that didn't have the deep, deep cold. I think it was forty or maybe thirty four. Still it gave them daylight in the evening.
Being a teenage girl, emotions rise to the surface quickly. Irritation at not seeing friends at school, mostly the boyfriend and all the extra curricular activities rerouted to the next month, I was bored. I couldn't vent my adolescent steam. My mom overheard me complaining to a friend who called that a meeting was canceled.Thinking I called her a name, she became angry and cried. I rolled my eyes.  Dad blessedly worked, staying out of the feminine mire.
When we made it back to school, we hunkered around in our winter coats due to the heat only to be sixty five. We tried turning off the lights between classes, until our biology teacher explained that used more energy flipping the switch off and on for fluorescent lights. I never thought school would be so welcomed, but we couldn't do anything else when banished to home with conserving gas and all, school provided socialization.
After two years of brutal winters, the school district added the long spring break. Those first years, we had to attend school well into June. My senior year, they added ten days in April around Easter. We had a mild winter with no snow days in 1979, only the usual cold January, with no more energy crisis. Still with ten days off in the spring built into the schedule allowed me to take three weeks for my first visit to California. I ended up only missing a small amount of school for my educational trip.
I'll write more about this trip later.
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