Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Where were you today in 1996?

I saw on the news that on this day in 1996, Tower Minnesota reached -60F below (-51C), for the coldest minimum temperature on record.

That reminded me of a story, so let's answer the question "Where was Steve on this day in 1996?".

In 1996, I was a freshman at the University of Minnesota, Duluth living in the dorms. Being in Duluth, where the winters are cold, UMD has built all their buildings connected to each other. In fact, nearly everything is all mushed together as if it was one giant building that they kept adding onto.

This sucks if you are a fan of an open, green, campus because the whole campus is basically one giant building with a surrounding parking lot.

On the other hand, if you like to be warm in the winter, it is great. In fact, all the dorms are directly connected to the sprawling monstrosity of a building, so people in the dorms never have to go outside if they don't want to. You can always pick out the freshman as they are the ones wandering the halls in shorts and sandals in the depths of winter.

Anyways, although it wasn't -60 below in Duluth back in 1996, it was plenty cold and the governor canceled all state schools. That of course included UMD and left the 10 of us or so that lived on the same floor of the same section of the dorms with an unexpected day off.

Now, there is only so many times you can beat Super Mario Brothers in a row, so many times you can race Ghost Valley in Super Mario Kart, or so many times you can watch 7-year old basketball teams on cable access TV.

Eventually we needed something to do, bad.

That year we had gotten a lot of snow in Duluth, in fact the snow was drifted nearly over my window on the first floor. We latched onto the idea of going sledding. Except no one had a sled.

That didn't stop us, as someone came up with the idea of using the plastic shower curtains from the shared floor bathroom.

Next thing you know, a big group of us were heading across the street to a hill, three shower curtains in hand.

If you've ever gone sledding you know with the right combination of snow surface, sled material, and weight you can really get going. Well, the stars had aligned on February 2nd, 1996. No one has ever gone as fast as we did on those slick plastic shower curtains.

The greatest speed came when you piled three or four people onto a curtain, as with the extra weight you could really get up some speed.

The only problem was that the curtains provided absolutely no protection from bumps on the hill. You felt every single one of them going down. But man, you were going fast.

Eventually the curtains couldn't stand up to the abuse and ripped. Later that year we tried the curtains again, but it was never quite the same.

So there I was, on one of the coldest days ever in Minnesota, outside sledding on plastic shower curtains borrowed from the dorm bathroom.

3 comments:

Brenden Johnson said...

I was in class like a sucker. Every single school in the whole state was closed...except for the U of M, Twin Cities. So I headed out that Friday morning for my classes. Only to find that almost no one else went. As it turned out most of the professors repeated their lessons the following Monday so I got to hear the classes twice. I could have had a long weekend either way, but no, I was studious. Of course that was probably the high point of my studiousness in my 6.5 year college career.

Steve Eck said...

Hehe, so the high point of your studiousness in college came just weeks into the second quarter of your first year? :)

I didn't realize the TC campus still had school that day. But I guess Duluth is quite a bit further north.

Brenden Johnson said...

Latitude had nothing to do with it. I don't know if it was -60, but it was at least -30. And there were plenty of schools in Minneapolis and to the south that were closed. No one was very happy.

And yes, my studiosness was all down hill from there.