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Columnist Sharon Nesbit weathers the storm of February 2021 with a nostalgic look back to the storms of yesteryear.

COURTESY PHOTO: SAM BARNETT - Columnist Sharon Nesbit ventured outside on her deck earlier this week, so see who was taller — her or the snow drifts in Troutdale.Well, this is big — for the first time in my knowledge, a resident of West Portland has evacuated to Troutdale after a storm.

Paula lives — or rather, lived — in West Linn where the ice storm was at its worst, toppling trees and utility poles and shutting things off like refrigerators, lights, heat, etc.

Paula is a survivor. She lived in Alaska. She dodged moose going to work. She is brave. She quickly took the cute little electric unit out of her fireplace, got up in the flue and removed the insulation she had placed there and went out in the storm to get fire logs, $100 bucks worth at the fanciest store in Lake Oswego.

"Then I remembered that I threw out my fire place grate when I converted to the electric unit," she said, so she sacrificed a grate from an expensive broiler pan and built herself a real fire. She cooked on her barbecue. Got her picnic cooler out and placed it outside to keep her food cold. She charged her phone and her Kindle in her car, the heater running to warm up.

Tuesday, she came to Troutdale for respite, where, miraculously, the ice storm that always follows our blizzards was largely decorative. We had an impressive set of icicles and then it went away.

Paula came for a shower, the first in five days, did two loads of laundry, and returned to her chilly home and her two cats. But she caved. Wednesday, she and the cats moved in.

Like I said, who evacuates to Troutdale? Tuesday was the first time in six days I was able to go out my back door, where snow was piled higher than the door knob. My other door similarly blocked, I watched the snow storm out my windows, blessed that the power was still on, and thought about other storms.

This from an old column: "The way I remember them, the old storms in Troutdale were in black and white. Snow and ice washed the color out of life when we were snowbound on our hill. So long as we had power, which usually wasn't very long, good old Jack Capell, TV weatherman, gave his best guesses on a black and white screen on the little kitchen television."

For today's full-color storms, they send the newsroom rookie to Troutdale in his/her television parka to lean against the howling wind and yell into the mic about how awful it is. We hate that. We know it is hell out here or, at least, approaching the gates of. But the privilege of saying so is reserved for we who live here.

We remember a week without power, cooking hot dogs in the living room fireplace, No. 1 Kid setting the feet of her footie pajamas on fire.

We remember hiking down to the old Troutdale General Store where Roy Meger worked in the cold and dark, selling hamburger quick chilled by East Winds. "Why are the bananas in the meat case?" we'd ask, and Roy would explain, "To keep them from freezing."

You could count on the general store and liquor store being open. People wondered for years why downtown Troutdale had its own liquor store, but we knew.

Our first storms on our hill were in the late 1960s, when there was only one four-wheel drive vehicle in all of Troutdale. It was the city pickup, the only town-owned vehicle. Chained and in four-wheel drive, the truck, with marshal/maintenance man Emil Carow at the wheel, climbed Buxton Road when nothing else could. I was standing in the blizzard at the end of the driveway when I saw the city pickup chugging uphill, Hubs and several other over-coated commuters standing in the back. Emil was grinning from the warm cab while all those suits froze their tails off in the back.

In black and white times, we loaned our neighbors food and wood and soup, stretching electrical cords from those who had power to those who didn't. Hubs and I worked most of the kinks our of our old house. We kept it reasonably warm. We know which pipes were likely to freeze. We had means of cooking and a propane light. When the power went, we curled up with the cats and waited it out. The television went black so there were no more teeth-chattering blondes on the screen trying to show us how to freeze ice.

We already knew that.

Sharon Nesbit can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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