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Bergeson column: Late blizzards

As snowstorms go, last weekend's was a minor event -- even though it dumped the biggest snowfall of the season on our farm.

A few people had a tough time getting home. A few cars hit the ditch. A few events were canceled. What else is new?

What's new is that the storm dropped over a foot of snow within a week of the month of May.

The storm's timing might well cement its place in local folklore. Usually, a few dozen people have to die for a storm to really make history. But this one was late enough to sear itself in our memories for other reasons.

For one, the storm disturbed several proms. The most sacred and holy of high school events, prom, for those into such things, is the pinnacle of a high school mother's career, a $1,000 warm-up for a $10,000 wedding.

The audacity of the weather to muck up something so important!

Just as people in the nursing home today will tell you about the Armistice Day Blizzard of November 11, 1940, in sixty years you'll hear about the Prom Blizzard of 2008.

By 2068, Grandma will have to explain what prom was and why she was wading through slush in high heels and why her date rented a limo that got stuck in an eight-foot drift.

Before Grandma gets around to the actual blizzard, the grandkids will yawn, look longingly towards the door and mumble how busy they are.

By then, there will be new ridiculous fashions. Baking yourself in a tanning booth for a month will have gone out of favor. Renting tuxedos will be obsolete.

Other ridiculous fashions will have taken their place. Perhaps girls will be extending the length of their necks with silver rings. Perhaps boys will be stretching out their earlobes with metal circles.

Oh wait, they're doing that already.

In order for a blizzard to really burn itself into memory, either somebody has to die, or a big life event has to be interrupted.

Over 100 people died in the Armistice Day blizzard of 1940. Three dozen proms were interrupted in the Prom Blizzard of 2008.

The most memorable storm in my lifetime -- the one I am going to talk about in the nursing home -- involved baseball.

It was April 17, 1984. The Twins had recently moved into the Metrodome. Baseball could be played at any time, rain, snow or shine.

I headed to Minneapolis for a game in my rusty 1975 Dodge station wagon with bald tires.

At Alexandria, it started to snow. By St. Cloud, visibility was down to one hundred feet. By Elk River, I had to pull over.

I spent the entire afternoon waiting out the storm at the Highway Host. I sat in a booth with other travelers doing the same. They were older folks, and they were telling stories about the Armistice Day blizzard of 1940.

I got bored. Determined to see the Twins game, I crept down the exit, found a rut and crept towards Minneapolis. I could hear the slush knock off rust chunks from the rear fenders.

About ten miles from downtown Minneapolis, WCCO announced that the game was canceled. Seventeen inches of wet snow had caused the Metrodome to deflate.

They patched the hole and inflated the Metrodome for the next game. I attended. The turf inside the dome was soaked. Base hits caused big splashes in the outfield. The crowd was sparse.

The game was a bore but for one magic moment. One of the greats of the 1970s, Reggie Jackson came to bat mid-game.

Reggie took a mighty swing and hit a cannon shot towards second base. The second baseman jumped, but the ball kept rising.

The centerfielder went back to the wall and jumped, but to no avail. The ball kept rising and was still rising when it struck the folded bleachers behind the fence.

It was the longest home run in the two-year history of the Metrodome -- a minor event, but because I saw it, I will never forget.

So, while others in the nursing home will ramble on about the Prom Blizzard of 2008, I will prattle on about the Reggie Jackson Blizzard of 1984.

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