cars

As winter arrived in Coburn Creek, West Virginia in 1950, a storm of epic proportions was about to set some serious records. From November 22 to 30, a slow-moving, powerful storm system dumped heavy snow across much of the central Appalachians. The storm would be remembered as as “The Great Appalachian Storm of 1950,” and it blanketed areas from western Pennsylvania southward deep into West Virginia with over 30 inches of snow. Several locations even received more than 50 inches of snow. Coburn Creek, West Virginia, reported the greatest snowfall total…a staggering 62 inches. Most towns can be shut own with 24 inches, so 62 inches was unthinkable. There is no way a car can get through that, in fact it will take hours to get a snowplow through it. For all intents and purposes, much of the Appalachian Mountains, and especially the Coburn Creek area were at a standstill.

The cold front was massive, with frigid air stretching from the Northeast into the Ohio Valley and all the way down into the far Southeast. Temperatures fell to 22°F in Pensacola, Florida, 5°F in Birmingham, Alabama, 3°F in Atlanta, Georgia, and 1°F in Asheville, North Carolina. This record cold led to widespread crop damage, particularly in Georgia and South Carolina. In the north, intense winds associated with the storm caused extensive tree damage, power outages, and coastal flooding in New England. In New Hampshire, Mount Washington observed gusts as high as 160 mph. And, onshore winds along the coast caused extreme high tides and flooding in New Jersey and Connecticut. The storm was fairly short lived, and the temperatures quickly returned to normal in the first week of December 1950, bringing a whole new problem with them. The rise in temperatures led to a fast snowmelt, flooding several tributaries and major rivers. The Ohio River reached 28.5 feet, 4 feet above flood stage, in Pittsburgh. In Cincinnati, it reached 56 feet, also 4 feet above flood stage.

At the time, the Great Appalachian Storm of 1950 was one of the costliest storms on record, and it contributed to at least 160 deaths. Overall, on the Regional Snowfall Index (RSI) this powerful storm ranked as a Category 5…the worst category, for the Ohio Valley, and a Category 4 for the Northeast of the 212 storms our scientists have analyzed for the region. The RSI value of 34.7 securely locks its first place rank, well above the 24.6 RSI value second worst storm in March 1993. Only four Category 5 storms have impacted the Ohio Valley since 1900, so it is highly uncommon. During the storm, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, received 30.2 inches of snow, and both Erie, Pennsylvania, and Youngstown, Ohio, received more than 28 inches of snow. Across the region, over 18 inches of snow affected more than 6.1 million people. Such high snowfall totals affecting so many people largely contributed to the storm’s high ranking on the RSI scale.

In the Northeast region, the Great Appalachian Storm ranks as the ninth worst storm to impact the area out of the 203 analyzed. That fact seems surprising given the severity of the storm. I would have expected a much higher ranking. Over 30 inches of snow affecting 1.3 million people in the region largely contributed to the regional RSI value of 14.5. With that value, it ranks just behind the more recent February 2003, February 2010, and January 2016 storms. The late February snowstorm of 1969 remains the strongest storm to hit the Northeast, with an RSI value of 34.0 making it a Category 5 or “Extreme” event. The March 1993 “Storm of the Century” remains the second strongest snowstorm to hit the Northeast, with an RSI value of 22.1 also making it a Category 5 event. As I look out my window at the light snow falling, I find myself feeling grateful that this storm is not expected to be anything like the Great Appalachian Storm of 1950.

These days, driving our cars everywhere we go, there are certain amenities in our cars that we take for granted, but that in reality, we just couldn’t live without. One of those amenities is the automobile air conditioner. Summers would be just miserable without air conditioning in the car. While a company in New York City first offered installation of air conditioning for cars in 1933. Most of their customers operated limousines and luxury cars. I don’t suppose too many people could afford to add that to their car. Then, in 1939, Packard became the first automobile manufacturer to offer an air conditioning unit in its cars. I’m sure that everyone who could afford to buy a car that year, was really excited about the possibilities.

The cars were manufactured by Bishop and Co, of Cleveland, Ohio. The “Bishop and Babcock Weather Conditioner” also incorporated a heater. This looked like a perfect car. Cars ordered with the new “Weather Conditioner” were shipped from Packard’s East Grand Boulevard facility to the B&B factory where the conversion was performed. Once complete, the car was shipped to a local dealer where the customer would take delivery. There were some drawbacks, however. When you think about automobile air conditioning and heat, you immediately think what drawback could there be?

Packard fully warranted and supported this conversion, and marketed it well. However, it was not commercially successful for a number of reasons. The main evaporator and blower system took up half of the trunk space. That problem was alleviated as trunks became larger in the post-war period. The system became outdated by more efficient systems in the post-war years. The original system had no temperature thermostat or shut-off mechanism other than switching the blower off, and even with the switch off, cold air would still sometimes enter the car with any movement as the drive belt was continuously connected to the compressor. Systems designed later would use electrically operated clutches to remedy this problem. The several feet of plumbing going back and forth between the engine compartment and trunk proved unreliable in service. Probably the biggest deterrent was the price, at $274, which would be over $4,692.12 in 2014 US dollars today, it was not affordable to most people in post-depression/pre-war America, but I doubt if the fact that you had to turn off the engine and get out of the car to flip the switch, located in the trunk made it impractical for the most part, and because it also had to be turned off the same way,and with no adjustment, it was something you had to do often. The option was discontinued after 1941. Of course, as you all know, while this version was discontinued in 1941, the air conditioner was not, because we all have a much more efficient version in our automobiles today.

My nephew, JD Parmely is a car fanatic. I have never known anyone who owns more cars than he does, and the number keeps getting bigger. I suppose, that as the saying goes, “to each his own” really applies here. Cars are JD’s thing, and he can often be found out in his garage tinkering on one of them…sometimes until 2:00 in the morning. It is what makes him happy, and it has from the time he was old enough to think about cars. JD knew from a young age that he wanted to be a mechanic, and so he went to college in Arizona for his training, and now, not only does he work on his own cars but he is a mechanic by trade too. They say that when you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. That certainly is true for JD.

It would be my guess that the only job JD loves more than being a mechanic, is being an uncle. Since the first time he became an uncle, he was in love with that whole part of his life. JD’s brother, Eric Parmely and sister-in-law, Ashley now have three children, so JD is uncle to Reagan, Hattie, and Bowen. He takes his role very seriously, spending time with them whenever he can, and I’m sure that he is considered a great blessing to them. JD has a heart of gold, and those kids all know how much their uncle loves them, and like most uncles, they have him wrapped around their little fingers already. JD has a soft heart in that area, and I’m pretty sure that those kids know it too.

JD is the kind of guy you can always count on. He has been a ready help to his brothers and uncles whenever they asked him. He has also been good to his dad, even taking him into his home after he had a stroke, and helping him with the demands of his new health status. Having been a caregiver myself for 13 years, I can say that taking care of someone is no easy job, and those who do it deserve our respect. All in all, JD live a very busy life, sometimes it can wear a person out just thinking about it, but it’s what makes him happy, so that’s all that matters. Today is JD’s birthday. Happy birthday JD!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Like most of the Schulenberg men, my brother-in-law Ron Schulenberg is a work-a-holic. When he isn’t working as a diesel mechanic at Wyoming Machinery, he is working on a car at his own house. This year Ron also put a roof on the family home and put up a fence around the yard. Like any work-a-holic, he spends an average of 16 working hours a day, and then comes in to spend time with his favorite people, his wife Rachel and his son Tucker, and the dogs of course. Weekends often find him working with his nephew, Barry or brother, Bob, both of whom are work-a-holics too. The men cut wood or work on cars. The main good news about all this for Rachel is the fact that she knows where to find him. That’s the way I always felt about Bob’s work.

Ron loves grilling, and really knows his way around a barbeque grill. That seems to be another trait of the Schulenberg men…including my father-in-law, Walt Schulenberg, who was just like his sons and grandsons. Of course, these days, Ron has a helper with all his activities. His son Tucker, his sidekick, is right there doing whatever his dad is doing, be it working, playing, or grilling. They are best buddies, and they are perfectly happy to have each other to count on for help on their projects. It’s important to have an assistant for these things, and Tucker would rather be working with his dad, than almost anything else in the world.

While Ron is a work-a-holic, and like getting things done, he does like his relaxation time too. He enjoys traveling. The family took a trip to New York a while back and really enjoyed Niagara Falls. Ron really enjoys his work, but the reality is that we work to make a better life for our family. Work is a means to an end…a better family life. I can’t picture Ron never getting out there and working…at least not until he is really, really old, but I think that if you ask Ron how he feels about the things he does in life, he would simply say, “I’d rather be camping!” Today is Ron’s birthday. Happy 50th birthday Ron!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

building-the-lincoln-tunnel-jpgLiving in New Jersey, does not necessarily mean that people work or shop in New Jersey. Since Manhattan is just across the Hudson River, many people work and shop there…who wouldn’t, given the chance. I suppose that at some point it was decided that there might soon be too many bridges over the river, and maybe a tunnel under it could be built. The first known underwater tunnel to be built was the Thames Tunnel, built beneath the River Thames in London, connecting Rotherhithe and Wapping. It was built between 1825 and 1843 using Marc Isambard Brunel’s and Thomas Cochrane’s newly invented tunneling shield technology, by Brunel and his son Isambard Kingdom Brunel. So the idea was not new, and in fact, not even new to New York City. The Port Authority had acquired the Holland Tunnel in 1930, and soon after New York and New Jersey authorized the agency to proceed with its plan to build what was then called the Midtown Hudson Tunnel or the Midtown Vehicular Tunnel. Creating a 1.5-mile-long structure, even above ground, would be no small accomplishment, but to build it under a riverbed was a monumental task. Hundreds of huge iron rings, each weighing 21 tons, had to be assembled and bolstered together on site to form the lining of the tunnel. At some point it was decided that Midtown Vehicular Tunnel was not grand enough…so in the spirit of patriotism they named it the Lincoln Tunnel, because of the George Washington Bridge. On this day, December 22, 1937 the 8,216 foot center tube opened in 1937, followed by the 7,482 foot north tube in 1945. The 8,006 foot south tube was the last to open, in 1957.

On average, the Lincoln Tunnel sees upwards of 120,000 cars passing through every day. It is one of the busiest roadways in the country. On the afternoon of September 8, 1953, the tunnel became famous when two men, who had attempted to rob a house in South Orange New Jersey were chased away by its residents. Their car’s license plate was relayed to the police. Peter Simon and John Metcalf escaped into the Lincoln Tunnel and were spotted by transit authorities upon entering. A car chase ensued amid the traffic through the tunnel. Police commandeered a delivery truck and fired shots at the getaway car as it swerved around other vehicles. In all 28 shots were fired, and the driver, Peter Simon, was shot in the head about three quarters of the way to the other side of the tunnel. The gunfight was reported by The New York Times the next morning.

The Hudson River current has historically stayed close to the edge of Lower Manhattan, but with the construction of Battery Park City, which juts out into the river, part of the current has been rerouted. Its new location brings it more toward the river’s center and it’s uncovering much of the soil lying on top of the walls and ceiling of the Tunnel. As of 2009, some parts of the tunnel’s walls have seen a soil coverage decrease of about 25%, making them far more susceptible to shifting or cracking in the coming years. Not good!!

The process of building the 1.5 mile tunnel was grueling. To support the cavities that the workers dug out, they lincoln-tunnelinstalled a series of 21 ton iron rings set into the walls. The workers who dug the tunnels, called sandhogs, had to use a series of airlocks to depressurize and re-pressurize their bodies while entering a new section of the tunnel. With no ventilation, the air in each pressurized section got stale quickly. The excavation involved digging, lining the walls with the rings, pouring cement into every crease and crack to the keep the water out, and finally they moved along to the next airlock. Clifford Holland, chief engineer and namesake of the Holland Tunnel, died of a heart attack at 41 years of age due to immense stress during the construction, as well as the growing toxicity of the air in the airlocks. The Lincoln Tunnel faired better, with no reported work-related deaths.

The Littlest HelperA True HelperMy nephew, Barry Schulenberg, and his wife, Kelli have been doing some remodeling on their bathroom and their home outside of Casper, Wyoming. Barry has a knack for carpentry, and that reminds me of the little boy that was Barry, helping his grandpa, my father-in-law, Walt Schulenberg build the family home north of Casper. It seems like so many years ago, and yet in my memory files, I can see it so clearly. In those days, Barry wanted to do anything his grandpa was doing…so much so, in fact, that Barry had decided that he didn’t need to go to school. He was just going to go to work with his grandpa. I can’t say exactly how much Barry learned about carpentry from his grandpa in those days, but I think he took something away from that experience, even as a little two year old boy. I think he found that he liked to build things, but more than that, it built a bond between grandfather and grandson that would last a lifetime.

Over the years, Barry helped his grandfather do anything he was doing. From splitting wood to working on cars, the two of them were almost inseparable, except for the inevitable job/school times that each had to go to. Barry lived for the time when his grandpa would be home from work and they could go work outside. I’m not sure if my father-in-law felt worn out or not, but if he did, he rarely showed it to Barry. They were best buddies and that was all that mattered. The three granddaughters that my father-in-law had then, were his little princesses, and were treated as such, but Barry was his working buddy, and that was just the way it was. I think the girls were ok with that too, because carpentry and cars really weren’t their idea of fun anyway.

I don’t know if Barry realized how special his relationship with his grandpa was, but I really hope he did or does now, because it was special. Not every little boy gets to spend the time with their grandfather that Barry did. That was a blessing beyond blessings for both of them, and it was special to watch too. My father-in-law has Barry & Kelli SchulenbergWalt Schulenberg and Linda Knox 1949_edited (2)been gone now for over three and a half years now. I have to wonder if Barry misses his grandpa as he is working on the current project he has set himself to now. It’s not that Barry can’t do the work himself and with Kelli’s help, but I have to wonder if he doesn’t hear the echo of his grandpa’s voice guiding him through the steps to remodeling the bathroom. His grandpa really knew what he was doing, and to top it off, Barry looks like his grandpa too. No wonder they got along so well. They were two of a kind. Today is Barry’s birthday. Happy birthday Barry!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

JD13876265_292781794411876_617624038936402311_nMy nephew, JD Parmely is a single guy who mostly just loves cars, working on cars, and driving cars. For the most part it’s all about the cars for JD. But there is one more…well, really two things that are even more important to JD than his cars. I never thought I would see the day that happened. I think anyone who knows the Parmely family can guess what is more important to JD than cars. Yes…his nieces Reagan and Hattie. JD has always loved kids, and had a great time playing with his younger cousins, but no cousin can hold his heart like his nieces do.

Any man who has kids knows how quickly those kids steal your heart, but girls have a tendency to wrap their daddies around their little finger pretty quickly. While JD doesn’t have kids of his own, he has found out how quickly two little girls can have a major effect on one uncle. A man spends his whole life learning to be a strong man. Nothing is supposed to have an effect on them…right? Wrong!! Enter two little girls, whose smiles can melt your heart in a second. Add to it the fact that these two little girls like some of the same things the uncle does, such as cars and motorcycles, and the fact that they don’t mind getting dirty on the trails they hike, and 13557692_272603193096403_6265197797856153303_n10387478_10203972189043974_3295763557144631040_nyou find yourself with every ingredient necessary to steal a heart. And that is exactly what those two little girls did.

JD still loves his cars, motorcycles, and mechanical work, and he loves working on the house he bought from his grandparents, but none of these things will ever take the place of those little nieces…and I think JD is totally ok with that. Being uncle to Reagan and Hattie is the highlight of his life. But then he always was a kid at heart. Today is JD’s birthday. Happy birthday JD!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Bob at about 16Few birthdays mark such a big change in one’s life as this one will for my husband, Bob Schulenberg. Bob had planned to retire in January of 2017, but with the offer of a severance package through the City of Casper, where he has worked since May of 1989, due to the economic downturn, Bob retired on July 1st. It was like icing on the cake, and we couldn’t turn it down. That means that since he was 17 years old, this is the first birthday Bob will spend without a job. That is such a foreign thought to him…and to me. Bob is a hard working man, who has a lot of trouble sitting still…probably for working so hard for so many years, so I doubt he will do much of that. Besides, there are people who have been waiting for him to retire, so he can work on their cars. Hmmm, does that sound like much will change with him? I don’t really think so. In fact, I think that the only thing that will be likely to change, is the stress of an 8:00 to 4:30 job…with a boss. I think that the “B” word is one word Bob is totally ready to imageremove from his vocabulary…and I’m ready for him to be able to remove that word too. One of the things we are looking forward to is more free time to walk and hike, because we both like that. Of course, since I am still working, most of that will be around Casper for now.

Bob has a few other plans in mind to occupy his time, like finally getting his garage organized and putting in a storage shed to house the things that really won’t fit in the garage now that it will be a shop, and not just a place to park the cars most of the time. That’s all fine with me, as long as he leaves me an open stall to park my car in, because after all, my car lives there and the cars he is working on don’t. I can see him hanging out at the parts house, talking to the guys, because most of the time he doesn’t have much time for visiting when he goes in there. And of course, there will be the morning breakfasts with the other retirees…you know, that exclusive club that can go have breakfast at 9:00 if they want to, because after all, they don’t have to got to Bobwork. I guess you can see why I am going to have to keep him walking and hiking…yes, it’s so he doesn’t get fat from all that sitting around.

Oh, I tease Bob about sitting around doing nothing, but that simply isn’t Bob’s style. He will probably watch a little more television, but my guess is that it won’t be very much or very often. He has better things to do than to sit around wasting away. For Bob, retirement means the freedom to get out and do things, without having to stop and go to work, and I am very happy for him. Today is Bob’s birthday. Happy birthday Honey!! Have a great day!! We love you, and we are all very happy for you!!

Dad's 1936 PlymouthDaddy's Little HelperFor most girls, their car is simply a way to get around, but for guys its very different. They have to fix their car up, soup it up, change things on it so that it looks hot. Of course, a big part of the draw for making their cars look hot was to have a chick magnet. Still that doesn’t explain why grown men…married men…happily married men, work on their cars to make them look hot. It really is simply a guy thing, and it doesn’t matter how old the guy is. Most men just don’t want to be out driving a beater. They have set standards for themselves, and it would be…well, totally humiliating if they were seen out driving a dorky car…for Pete’s sake. It isn’t just the young guys or the current generation that has to have the latest thing in cars either. It seems to be all guys, or at least the majority of them.

My dad had a number of cool cars. I suppose that the cars he had then would not be looked at as cool these days, but in his day they were pretty nice. I think it was harder to fix a car up back then too, because you couldn’t just go out and buy a pinstripe kit to make it look like a fancy, hot car. If they wanted that, they had to save up the money to get someone to paint those stripes on by hand. It doesn’t matter what they did to the cars back then, because if you put that car in todays world, the kids would probably not think it was very cool. Nevertheless, in my dad’s day, they were very sharp looking.
Chris' CamaroKevin 1
My husband, Bob loves some of those old cars. He still loves the hot cars, and the fancy paint job, but those old cars, with a fancy paint job…well those are cool. My son-in-law, Kevin Petersen and his boys, Chris and Josh totally get the whole hot car thing too, and they don’t mind the older cars…especially a Mustang or a Camaro. I don’t know how much they would like the old cars, but they do like their cars hot, They spend hours and hours working on their cars to make them better, hotter, and nicer. It’s just a guy thing.

Grandpa & Grandma Byer as a young coupleOne hundred and twenty three years ago yesterday, my grandfather, George Byer was born. His life would take many twists and turns. It would span two world wars, as well as other wars. He would live during two different centuries. He would see the transition from wagons to cars, and also the transition to airplanes. He would marry the love of his life, Hattie Pattan on Christmas Eve, and I think he always felt like she was the best Christmas present he ever received. He loved her so much. She and his family were the top priority to him. Grandpa loved kids, and they wanted a large family. They had nine children.

My best memories of Grandpa are of his gentle ways. He always called us kid. It was Grandpa Byer and 6 of the kidsnever meant in a generalizing way, it was his way of being endearing, and you always knew that. You always knew that Grandpa loved being a grandpa. He loved spending time around his grandkids. I remember him stopping by our house. My sisters and I were so excited to see him. He was fun to play games with, and never made us feel like we were in the way. He just loved kids, especially his grandkids.

As his life was coming to a close, there were times that he didn’t remember who we were. It’s strange when your grandfather recognizes your husband before he does you. Grandparent VisitThat was what happened though, he thought I was the nurse, but he knew my husband’s name. It was because of a trip we took him on. Bob was so good with Grandpa’s worries. He explained the map and showed Grandpa where we were and where we were going, on a trip we took to take them to Cascade, Idaho, where they had family. It was a trip that apparently meant a lot to Grandpa, and he was grateful to Bob for putting his mind at ease, in those later years. Yes, Grandpa’s life took many twists and turns, but I seriously doubt if he would have changed a thing. It was his life, and he loved it. It’s hard to believe that grandpa would have been 123 years old yesterday. I know you had a wonderful day Grandpa. We love you and miss you very much.

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