Tonawanda News

February 14, 2014

ADAMCZYK: The modern form of cabin fever

The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — “The snow is really piling up out there. I wish you wouldn’t make me leave here.” The noted tenor Meat Loaf sang that in a song from 1977, and it approximates an attitude I observe around Kenmore these days.

The ennui of winter comes, eventually, every year, that “I wish it would end” outlook. This year it arrived early, as did the snow. It is that low-level boom-and-bust rotation that hurts, that prevailing schedule of cold weather and snow, followed by cold weather and no snow. Just enough time to shovel it, move it, accommodate one’s self to it, and it goes away. Then it returns. The cold is a constant.

Be warned, if you have not by now: Weather bordering on ridiculous will be the setting for the rest of our lives, and if anyone does not believe “polar vortex” will be in our vocabularies forever more, well, you can stop reading now and return to your caves.

What we all do is return to our caves, these days, and watch the weather environment on television. At a summer resort in Russia they’re skiing, skating and/or luging on it. In the American South this week, they employed Buffalo-style maneuvers to deal with it.

In Greenville, S.C., a robot manufacturer built and demonstrated an automatic snow removal machine (I saw it on the Weather Channel), a suitcase-sized robot with tank treads on the bottom and a plow and headlights on one end, to deal with the city’s inch of snow. Charming. Why hasn’t anyone in Buffalo thought of that? Oh yeah, one inch of snow is unheard of here.

Cabin fever prevails, until it’s time to go outside, at which time it’s business as usual. Drive through snow in the streets like mashed potatoes? No problem. Shovel the sidewalk? Piece-o-cake. Then we return indoors to the comforts of a house full of heat, loved ones and television and we wonder why we ventured out.

Many of us have lived here all our lives. We’re acclimated to this. We miss it if it doesn’t happen, miss it if we’re elsewhere for a part of a winter, and certain old-timers will tell you this is the way it used to be, every winter.

It helps, of course, to have a support system, like the round-the-clock snowplowing services of Kenmore’s and the Town of Tonawanda’s Departments of Public Works (they also collect the garbage on mornings I consider it a hardship to roll the tote and carry the recyclables to the curb). I am reminded of Dick Buerkle, who once held the world record for the fastest indoor mile at 3:54.9.

It was 1978 when he achieved the record, a time when many athletes required full-time jobs to support themselves, and Buerkle, from Rochester, worked in Buffalo for Bausch and Lomb. After a particularly intense snowfall he sought a place to train, somewhere for a simple run in the street, and as Sports Illustrated noted at the time, he was told: Kenmore. Go to Kenmore.

It’s 2014, and you can still discern the dividing line between Kenmore and Buffalo simply by driving or walking over it. In Kenmore the streets are more-or-less down to bare asphalt and the sidewalks are cleared. I’d tell you Kenmore kids are playing hockey in the streets but it’s too cold for that.

Zero degrees Fahrenheit is the temperature inside your freezer, and also the ambient temperature, some mornings. It did not seem to bother the ladies of the Brighton Community Church, who showed up, on time and ready, for a regular meeting of their “Brighton Earlies” social and public service club this week (hi, girls). The two who walked with canes were not bothered; neither was the one who pulled a small oxygen tank behind her, nor the dozen or so of their friends.

Elderly women come out in weather that drives the young professionals of Atlanta to fear and anxiety, and that may the be key to what makes us what we are, here. We’re selective about the things over which we freak out. 

Ed Adamczyk is a Kenmore resident whose column appears Fridays in the Tonawanda News. Contact him at

Ed Adamczyk is a Kenmore resident whose column appears Fridays in the Tonawanda News. Contact him at