As with other elderly men, I do get up a couple of times a night to fulfill my obligations. Last night, I had a déjà vu event. At 3:00 a.m. I was caught up short in my superintendent’s days in Kutztown. If there was any chance of snow the night before, I would get up at about 3 a.m. or so and check the news about the impending weather predictions. If there was no snow on the horizon, I would go back to sleep. If I could see a substantial amount of snow already fallen, or there was a 90% chance of heavy snow, I would make some phone calls to the state police, department of transportation and the bus supervisor.
You do know that you can never satisfy the people 100% of the time. I think that Abraham Lincoln said that, or was that Bret Maverick. I just can’t remember. So, if I determined that there was a good chance of a school delay or a cancellation, I would put on my garments and head out into the wilderness. Just as I was leaving, and I am not sure that he didn’t time it, Jim Gilmartin, Superintendent of the Hamburg School District would call me. I must tell you that the phone was on my wife’s side of the bed and when it rang she would pick it up and berate Jim for calling so early and waking her up. Jim would apologize and ask to speak to me. I would usually tell him that I was on my way out and would call him a bit later. Remember there were no cell phones yet.
I would then go down to the Bieber Bus Company garage and meet with the bus supervisor, a tiny blond headed lady dressed in a parka and snow boots. If the snow were already on the ground, I would call the township supervisors, as well as the borough manager and ask if they were already out clearing the roads. Most times, they all were out, but one.
I have told this story so many times, that I almost believe that I made it up. I did not. I called a township supervisor one early morn and got his wife on the phone. I asked if I could speak with Mr. Ernie Boyer, the township supervisor in charge of the roads. She told me that he was already out clearing the rounds in the township. Since I had already called other people and knew that the roads had not even begun to be cleaned I doubted her veracity. I told her that unless she was sleeping with another man, I could hear snoring in the background. If that was her husband tell him to go out and clear the roads post haste.
I also had some critics within the school community. One such staff member used to complain bitterly that no matter what call I made, I was always wrong. I decided that since he was so interested in whether school would be called off or not, I would involve him in the decision. One snowy morn at about four a.m. I showed up at his house, knocked on the door and after a while, he came to open the door. I asked him if he would like to come with me and help make the decision. Would you believe he slammed the door in my face?
I was always called by the family that lived up on Hawk Mountain. Normally, he was a great guy. However, when the snows came, he became a beast. He always wanted me to take Hawk Mountain into my decisions. Since Hawk Mountain only had one resident, him, I decided that the weather up on the mountain did not signal me or get involved in my decisions. I told him that I could not base my decisions on the weather at the top of a mountain. I believe later on, he understood.
One more for the road. The superintendent of the Boyertown School District was one hell of a nice guy. He and I had a very pleasant relationship. One day, the weather folks were calling for a 95% chance of snow and lots of it. There was no snow on the ground in the morning, but by 10:30 in the morning, the sky had turned green. I alerted all of the schools and the bus company that I would probably call them very soon to dismiss.
I got a call from Jim at about 10:45. He asked me if it was snowing. I told him that it had not started yet. He said the same. I told him that I had everyone on alert. He said that he had done the same thing. At about 11:00, I heard that Boyertown was dismissing its students. I called Jim and asked him what had happened. He told me that as soon as he had gotten off the phone with me, it had started to come down in buckets. So, he dismissed. I said thanks and looked outside. There was no snow at all.
Actually, it did not snow in our area at all that day. However, in some neighboring counties, it had. I wondered about Jim and how he had made out. I called him that afternoon and asked him how much snow had fallen in his district. There was a long pause. He said that there was no snow. He heard me gasp and said, “I just didn’t want to look like the only jerk in Berks County.”