By MIKE WEST
This crazy up and down weather reminds of the days when February brought Tennessee its coldest weather.
While I certainly don't remember it, but my own birthday goes back to the famous 'Blizzard of '51.'
I was born right after it hit. And it's still referred to as "The Greatest Ice Storm" in the history of Tennessee. Nashville recorded 8 inches of snow and ice, but it was worse in the hills of Cannon County.
My father had to dig out the car and then came the ride down icy, snow-covered 70S to Good Samaritan Hospital in Woodbury.
Like I said earlier, I certainly don't remember it, but I managed to be born in Good Samaritan and not in a Ford.
The storm knocked out most telephone service and power to thousands of Middle Tennessee homes. Roofs collapsed, cars were abandoned everywhere. Trees blocked highways. Most businesses closed, along with the schools.
It was a mess.
We did have heat and all our folks did too, because they heated with wood or coal.
And while some of my folks still heat with wood, coal has gone by the wayside.
Can you even buy coal these days? TVA still has its coal-fired power plants and you can see railroad cars full of the dark stuff, but using coal to heat households had pretty much died out by the 1960s. But I don't know of a single place to buy it in Middle Tennessee. (That's not to say I have been looking for it either.)
But people in areas where coal is plentiful still burn it. In places like Pennsylvania, Kentucky and West Virginia homeowners can still purchase it and have it delivered by truck.
Coal, like firewood, heats its users four different ways. You work up a sweat moving it into the basement. It heats you a second time as you shovel it in a furnace. Of course, it heats you when it burns and then, a fourth time, when you have to shovel out the ashes.
Speaking from experience, coal heats hotter and longer than wood, but I prefer the smell of firewood.
But when it comes down to it, I must confess to preferring a heat pump. It is much nicer to flip a switch and turn on the heat instead of all of that moving, loading and cleaning.
…Until your power goes out.
That's when you start pining for the good ol' days.
And you start looking for anything that will put out a couple of BTU’s of heat. Then you dig out the quilts, blankets and your heavy coats. Get those candles fired up. They will put out a little heat.
Then after the panic passes, you will decide today is a cold, drab Wednesday but it will be sunny and 70 degrees by Friday.
Yep, welcome to Tennessee’s wacky winter weather. It’s like the old Channel 4 weatherman (the late Boyce Hawkins) would say when he gave his “Mexican” weather report: “Chili today, hot tamale.”