From time-to-time I will use my blog to share one of the many memories I have from my 15 years living in Pennsylvania and working at QVC. Since it’s frigid in most of the country right now and some pretty big storms are coming in, I thought this story from a very cold and snowy winter would be apropos. I hope you enjoy it! The featured photo is my dog Mandy, who loved playing in the snow. She was my best friend for the 11 years she spent on this earth.
I lived in “picturesque” Chester Springs, PA, when I worked at QVC. It was nice, about a 20 minute drive to QVC and out-of-the-way enough to be a wonderful, private getaway. My house was an old farm dwelling that had been redone. Had several acres of property and a one acre spring and stream-fed lake. Lived there for over 14 years and I loved it!
One weekday January afternoon, a snowstorm came out of nowhere. It dropped over 4 inches of snow in less than an hour and it kept snowing. The forecasters were saying we would probably have over a foot of snow before it ended. My house was set way back from the busy Rt. 113 but I could see that the traffic jam stretched on as as far as the eye could see. The cars were completely gridlocked as the road had become a sheet of ice. No one could get any traction. This included a school bus full of teenagers from a private academy that was stuck right by my driveway.
I had just gone grocery shopping so my dog Mandy and I were in good shape food-wise. I got out my massive snow blower, 24 HP with a 50” cleaning path. I cleaned my driveway even though it was still snowing. Even with this beast, 12 or more inches of snow was difficult. It worked much better to use it every 6” or so of snow.
It only took two trips (it was self-propelled) to clean my driveway. On the last trip out to the end of the road, I went out to the vehicles and asked if anyone wanted to come in to my house, since it was about 15 degrees and it was pretty obvious it would be hours, maybe more, before the cars and bus would be able to move. The bus driver was able to pull over and about 25 kids got out of the bus. No one else took me up on my invitation. I told them if they changed their minds they were welcome. Guess I look more like a serial killer or predator than I think.
The driver and kids came back to my house. My dog Mandy was delighted. She loved people since the more people there were in the house, the more chance she had of finding a sucker who would feed her until she burst.
The kids were all teenagers; everyone was either a junior or senior in high school. The driver was male, probably around 60. Everyone came in and I started to build a fire in the fireplace. One of the kids asked if he could help. He did and had a roaring fire going in a couple of minutes. Then a couple of the boys asked where I kept the wood. I showed them and they put their coats back on and went out, knocked the snow off the logs and brought enough in for several hours. They did this unasked.
The girls had settled down in front of the fire and were chatting and taking turns petting and loving Mandy. She looked at me like she was saying, “Hey, I’ve got a good thing here. Leave me alone.” She loved people and other dogs.
I let everyone know they could help themselves to the refrigerator. One of them opened it and, disappointed that I didn’t have any real junk food, asked if there was another fridge or pantry. I showed him the pantry which was equally disappointing from a teenaged perspective. He said that he and friend would go to WAWA, which was about 3 miles from my house. There was now over 6” of snow and it was snowing so hard now that you couldn’t see more than a few dozen feet.
I told him that the roads were impassable. He said that he and a friend were on the cross country team and could run – both ways! Everyone there said it was no big deal for the pair. Realizing that he was serious about the trip, I got him a couple of backpacks, gave him some cash and he and his friend took off. They were both back in about an hour and a half with enough “teenage food” for several hours. He even got me a cup of coffee which was still fairly warm and brought me the change.
During the evening we didn’t lose power. Some kids were watching TV, some were listening to my stereo, a few napped and some chatted. The driver slept by the fireplace. One of the young people noticed my guitar collection and asked if he could play. He was really good and several of the teens played and sang for us all.
When I said I had to go back out and run the snow blower, a couple of the boys asked if they could do it. I went out and showed them the finer points of my Godzilla-sized snow blower and they did a great job. They even cleaned a patch on the front lawn as I told them that Mandy wouldn’t poop or pee in the snow. When the snow finally stopped a few hours later, they asked again if they could do it again, which they did.
Cars didn’t move for the entire night. And, even though I went out and asked again, no one else came in. I had teenagers sleeping all over my house. Mandy was snuggling with the girls in my bedroom. I stayed awake all night, stoking the fire and checking the highway every couple of hours in case the driver would have to move the bus. By the morning, the roads had been cleared and the kids and driver left.
The driver was almost fired by his school as they said his actions were irresponsible. I had to appear at his hearing and assured the officials that the “sleepover” was my idea and that I was a public figure so the driver was certain I wasn’t a wacko…at least not a dangerous wacko. I convinced them and he kept his job. With all the headlines today, they might not have been so forgiving.
A few days after the storm, I received a wonderful thank you letter from the kids. It was one of the most amazing days I ever spent in Chester Springs. Changed my perception of young people forever, too.
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