Gather 'round, chirruns, and I'll tell you about an incredible happenstance that took place 25 years ago this very day. It was dubbed "Snow Jam" by a local pundit, for reasons that will become clear to those of you who didn't experience it.
January 12, 1982. Typical winter day in Atlanta. Temperature in the high 30's/low 40's. As far as I can remember, if there was talk of impending snow, it certainly didn't set off the usual Atlanta stampede to the grocery store for milk and bread - not that morning, anyway. We were all busy little beavers in the production department at Turner Broadcasting - taping shows in the studio, editing promos, writing copy, having production meetings. Life as usual, in other words.
Seems like about mid-morning word got out that snow was headed our way, but we all pooh-pooh'd it. Just the weather-folk stirring up the usual hype. Back to work, everyone!
Around 1PM, word came down that all but essential personnel needed to leave for home immediately. (Essential personnel in television is a grey area, but it certainly included engineers and Master Control Room folks that kept "The Andy Griffith Show" and "Three Stooges" running 24/7 on TBS.) It had, indeed, started to snow. And snow. And snow. We still didn't take the thing very seriously, jaded TV folk that we were, and many of us left it a bit late for safe travel home.
The folks that left it too late have stories that grow on the Scandal-o-Meter by the year. Tales of bedding down together in hastily requisitioned hotel rooms near Turner or crashing in the studio are legendary, 'Nuff said about that.
I didn't leave it too late (not late enough to have to bunk with a co-worker, thank God) but got out around 3PM having been offered a ride by two hot-shots new to Atlanta from Kentucky. I left my car in the parking lot and climbed in with Gerald and Paul. Whoa, Nelly!
Immediately the hot-shot snow drivers from Kentucky realized that - uh-oh! - ice and a bumper-to-bumper traffic jam (that pesky cause-and-effect thing, see) made forward movement in a car truly impossible. After sitting on 14th Street headed west and moving about 6" in three hours, I said, "Ya' know. I can walk home faster that this car's moving. See ya' and good luck, guys. Thanks for the ride!"
Fortunately, I lived about two miles away, so I left the warmth of the car to try to fend off blowing snow and icy pavements, willing to do whatever it took to get me moving toward home. Yes, it was cold, and it was slippery. Had a couple of nasty spills, but my momentum certainly outpaced that of the motoring public. It was a long two miles. Took me almost two hours to slip-and-slide my way through my little front door. But, oh!, what a relief. (Found out later that Gerald and Paul didn't get home until early evening.)
Husband Jack almost didn't make it at all. He'd abandoned his car by the side of I-75 and had attempted to take a short-cut to a surface street near our house. Of course, between the freeway and the street was a sort of gully or small ravine - he got down it OK, but it took him hours to climb up the other side because of the ice. He finally crawled in around 8PM.
It continued to snow heavily for several days afterwards. I managed somehow to get back to Turner to put in a few hours (had to make sure "Winners" and "Nice People" - two silly magazine programs we produced - got on the air) and indulge in the free food that Ted (Turner) provided for all the folks that were living in the studio during those days.
Though the city was paralyzed, there was a general party atmosphere that lasted for days. One of my favorite stories is how a new Atlanta restaurant built a loyal clientele because of the storm. According to one of the founders of Longhorn Steakhouse:
" . . . there was a major snowstorm in Atlanta that brought the city to a halt, so we pulled a sign out front that said ‘Drinks $1 While It Snows.’ So all these people forced to pull over walked in ’til they filled the place up. And over the storm’s three days, the steaks plus the genuinely friendly atmosphere surprised people, generating loyalty.” That event—taking place January 12, 1982—became known as the “Snow Jam."
It was party party party, amidst the slippin' and slidin', with - of course - the obligatory "baby boom" hitting Sept-Oct. 1982. Ah, the stories. Believe it or not, I can't find a lot about Snow Jam on the internet, which surprises me since so many folks love to tell their tales. There are certainly no pictures. Hm. Send 'em if you've got 'em, people!
Cheers to Snow Jam '82! (Just remember: "What goes on in the snow, stays in the snow.")