In the U.S. the heat and accompanying droughts this summer have been record breaking. When I was a kid growing up in Minnesota, WCCO radio would put joking weather forecasts of blizzards and below zero temperatures in the midst of a heat wave. In the winter they would occasionally to a joking forecast of heat and humidity. The purpose was two-fold: to remind us that in the winter we wished for heat and in the heat we wished for cold. This gave us perspective and made us laugh.
When I lived in Columbus, Ohio, a reporter (the late Tom Fennessey) for the Columbus Dispatch wrote a column on January 13, 1982 that is fondly recalled to this day.He wrote it in the midst of a cold snap when his car wouldn’t start, and he had to take the bus to work. That day it was 2 below zero with a wind chill of 35 below. He thought it was obvious the column was a joke—but many took it seriously!
It is referred to as the Freeze Dried Man Column. I am putting it in my post today to add some humor to your day. One of the reasons the column is still discussed today is that many people called and wrote to the Dispatch saying the same thing happened to other people they knew, or that they new the chap identified in the column. Hope you enjoy this. I copied the photo of the article, but the legible text is below that copy.
Thurman Adler, 44, an accountant whose dream as a youth was to sail the South Seas, shattered to death from the cold Monday while waiting for a bus at a wind-swept corner in Clintonville.
The coroner’s office said that Adler broke into tens of thousands of pieces and appeared to be nothing more or less than a small heap of freeze-dried coffee.
Medical authorities are at a loss to explain what happened to Adler and police say they know of nothing like it in the city’s long history of bizarre deaths. The pastor at Adler’s church said his death may help settle the debate on whether the world will end by ice or fire. All over the city people said they knew exactly how Adler felt.
Witnesses to the incident were shocked. Adler, they reported, was one of five heavily bundled bus riders waiting for the No.2 E. Main-Fountain Lane coach about 7:15 a.m.
“We were standing there trying to keep as warm as possible when all of a sudden there was a loud ping. We looked around and there was poor Adler lying in a pile of little pieces beside his briefcase,” one of Adler’s fellow commuters said. “He broke apart like he was an icicle that had dropped off the eave of a house.”
“He was just like the glass that breaks when the tape recorder hits the high note on that commercial,” chimed in a second bus rider.
Others attested to the suddenness of Adler’s crystallization. “One minute he was there shivering with the rest of us and the next he was in a jillion bits. He looked like the pile of sweepings my wife leaves on the kitchen floor while she’s looking for the dust pan.”
National Weather Service meteorologists at Port Columbus reported the temperature at 2 below zero at the time of Adler’s fragmentation, with winds from the west at 15 miles per hour. That would place the wind chill index at about 35 degrees below zero.
Medical Authorities could only guess what caused Adler to break suddenly into tiny shards. “There is nothing in the literature to even hint at what may have happened this morning at that bus stop,” said Dr. Arthur Mycin. “We can only spin theories and hope nothing like it happens ever again.”
One such theory is that Adler, as he stood in the frigid air at the bus stop, was seized with a vision of Pago Pago and saw himself, bronzed by the sun, walking along a beach. Perhaps, authorities say, the intensity of that vision was such that Adler’s cellular chemistry was altered so that he had a much lower freezing point than usual.
If this theory is valid, Adler, indeed, was reduced by the same process that yields freeze-dried coffee.
The news of Adler’s disintegration was greeted with dismay at a meeting of the Mayor’s Task Force on Image, which had gathered to plan a strategy to counter the just-published book that ranks Columbus only 70th on a list of the nation’s most liveable cities.
“It’s not bad enough that Cleveland ranks 14th and Cincinnati ranks 17th,” one member is reported to have said. “Now the whole country is going to think we’ve got weather that turns ordinary citizens into powdered people. What’s that going to do for the old image?”
“If this news spreads,” another member said, “we might drop to No. 75 on the list, maybe down below Gary, Ind.”
A third suggested that Adler’s disappearance be listed officially as a kidnapping. “People don’t pay nearly as much attention to crime as they do the weather,” he said.
Everyone agreed that that was a good idea and that someone should announce a new hotel.