SMALL WONDERS:

The only thing better than Vin Scully on a summer night when everyone is still playing is Vin Scully on an October night when only a few are left.

As we round the corner from summer to fall, exchanging sunscreen and heat stroke for extra blankets, sweaters and soup, a dreamer’s mind turns to visions of cooler delights. First, I want to be in the stands when the Dodgers win the World Series on a chilly autumn night (beating the Yankees in five games, please). And then I want it to snow.

A few weeks ago, in a column about the Station fire, I made the statement that soot and ash are the only natural snow we Angelenos know; for surely it has never really snowed in the transformed desert that is our city. In saying that I was guilty of something every generation suffers: Historical Narcissism. Namely, that nothing happened before my blessed feet walked upon the earth.

Luckily, my friend Chuck Mont wrote in to kindly correct me. Born in 1922 and a Burbank resident since 1958, Chuck let me know that it has, in fact, snowed in the greater Los Angeles area. Real snow. From the sky. Not a giant Slurpee machine.

“I was in the Army training in late 1943 when it snowed quite a bit in Laurel Canyon,” he told me. He even sent me a picture of his future wife and parents’ cocker spaniel sitting in a field of the white stuff to prove it. This made me think.

Twenty-some years ago when I was a career student at Glendale Community College, I recall seeing a picture in the main hall that showed the school covered in a deep blanket of snow. More than another time, this was the image of another world. I went back to see if the picture was still there. It was not. But something else was: the amazing personal realization that I was young once, and that the school’s halls have miniaturized over the intervening years.

Arlene Vidor at the Glendale Historical Society confirmed for me that it has snowed in Glendale, in January 1949. She gave me a great photo of the original Glendale High School covered in snow 60 years ago.

She also directed me to the Special Collections Room at the Glendale Central Library. There I met George Ellison who generously opened the archives to show me a book full of photos and news reports of that rare meteorological occurrence.

Photo after photo showed every rooftop, street and palm tree in the area blanketed in up to 8 inches of new snow. Though George was only 2 at the time, he remembers the snow fondly, and building a snowman with other kids in his neighborhood. A snowman!

I’ve seen it hail and rain in sheets. I’ve seen floods and landslides. But I’ve never seen it snow here except in our hills. How lucky are those who have that memory.

It made me wonder what everyone must have thought when it started to snow. My guess is time stopped. My guess is people ran outside into this miraculous scene, beaming with delight and playing like little children. Imagine how it must have felt to see neighbors, co-workers and strangers all sharing in something ubiquitous, unexpected, simple and beautiful.

I’d like that, a blanket of powder over our city, our state and our country — and I’m not talking about the 22 pounds of powder found in some lady’s luggage at Bob Hope Airport a couple of weeks ago.

With seemingly endless rancor over health care, budgets, racism, troop surges and nuclear arms, with self-indulgent and ethically unrestrained celebrities, athletes and politicians screaming at us from every angle, maybe that’s just what we need. Snow.

Schools continue to have their finances downsized while class sizes grow, yet the state lottery is paying out hundreds of millions to lucky gamblers.

Our state has been driven to near bankruptcy by inept leadership.

Swine flu has us hiding indoors and behind masks and hand sanitizer.

People are wrongfully imprisoned with scant recourse while an Academy Award apparently wins you sympathy for being a law-dodging sex offender.

Our nation’s leaders can’t seem to agree on a way to make sure everyone in the richest country in the world can pay their medical bills.

We need a freak snowstorm to make everyone halt in their tracks and know that there is something bigger than us going on.

And since we’re playing in the snow, here are a few people I’d like to throw a snowball at: Kanye West, Serena Williams, Manny Ramirez, Harvey Weinstein, Rush Limbaugh and Nancy Pelosi. And anyone with the last name Kardashian, Simpson or Hilton, while I’m at it.

It’s kind of soothing to think about snow right now. Just for a day, time needs to stop so we can all build a snowman.


 PATRICK CANEDAY is a Dodger fan, freelance writer and Glendale native who lives and works in Burbank. He may be reached at patrickcaneday@gmail.com.

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