Pat Shingleton: "Chester, Avalanches and Blizzard Fame..."
We may be donning hoods, gloves and ear protectors for the New Year. Appropriately we'll repeat a story about Chester Greenwood. He was cursed with ears that throbbed and ached anytime he was cold. His ears would change color when the temperature dipped below freezing, first turning pale white, then vivid red and finally blue. Chester had no trouble doing chores when the weather was above freezing, but once the mercury dropped, he dropped inside to get next to the fire. Chester would wear a heavy towel around his head to protect his ears and when ice skating he tied a scarf around his head, resulting in an unbearable itch. Allergic to wool, his ears either ached or were itchy. His doctor determined that his ears were allergic to wool and very sensitive to cold weather. With some assistance from his grandmother, Chester solved the problem by looping two pieces of wire with fur sewn to the ends. According to the United States Patent Office, he patented a device that included a steel band that secured the fur pads, and called it Greenwood's Champion Ear Protectors. He later formed the Greenwood Ear Protector Factory. For 159 years they’ve been known as "ear muffs" and Chester's hometown of Farmington is recognized as the Earmuff Capital of the World. The first Saturday in December celebrates his birthday, Every year, including an Ear Muff Parade. In closing, Ski resorts from British Columbia to Utah and Colorado a monitor early-season avalanches. There are two classifications of avalanches: loose snow and slab. Loose snow avalanches are fairly minor and form when powder snow falls on mountain peaks and cascades down the slopes. This type of avalanche rarely causes casualties however slab avalanches are deadly. Slab avalanches can transport trees, rocks and other debris on their journey down the slope. Temperature changes alternate the sequences of freezing and thawing within the snow pack. This process also strengthens the snow pack during these periods of melting. Avalanches can occur at any time and are more numerous in spring when the entire structure releases from the slab. Acts of God, The Old Farmer’s Almanac, compiled a list of events that were placed into The Blizzard Hall of Fame. On December 26, 1778, nine German mercenaries froze at their posts in Newport, Rhode Island that later became known as the Hessian Storm. As it struck southern New England, fifty people died in subzero temperatures that included an 18-inch snowfall. Offshore gales, associated with the storm, beached 28 vessels on Staten Island. The Blizzard Hall of Fame also recognized an event on December 26, 1947, when one of New York’s deepest snowfalls put 27 inches of new snow on the ground in Central Park in 24 hours. Twenty seven people died from the storm and snow removal costs rocketed to $8 million.