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Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2015

Going to a snowy Sectional - with chains on

Posted Wednesday, December 17, 2008, at 9:01 AM

It must have been in the early 1960s at Sectional time when the snow got too deep to go anywhere (by today's standards) but we went anyway.

The roads were definitely dangerous but they didn't call off school, they didn't call off the games, and I don't remember hearing anything about "slick and hazardous." It was just snowy and that was that. Snow, even when it was six, eight or ten-inches deep, was a fact of life on the earth and we dealt with it. Life didn't grind to a halt just because it snowed, especially during Sectional week.

Snow or no snow, we could not miss a Sectional game. Our hometown team was playing in the Switz City gym on a Saturday morning and we woke up to a very thick blanket of snow. We just had to leave a little earlier to get there in time. While I was putting on extra layers under something purple and white, along with big ugly boots, my dad was outside putting on the chains.

Does anybody use chains anymore? I wonder if my kids even know about the chains? Do they still sell chains? If you say you remember the chains, you'll give your age away.

Chains were an odd-looking contraption that wrapped around the tires and gave us the traction we needed to plow through the ice and snow and stay on the road. They were an aggravation to put on but they were a winter necessity. My dad always, always carried a set in each of our cars and we never worried about getting home. If we were in Indy or Terre Haute and a big snow started falling, we didn't hurry up to get home - we knew we had the chains in the trunk. Our trunks were also stocked with buckets of sand, an old board or two and a couple of shovels.

It's odd but I don't remember our car sliding around too much or my dad being afraid of driving in bad weather when I was growing up. He was a very cautious driver and I guess that plus those chains really did do the job of keeping us safe.

Today we've got to have everything salted, sanded and plowed and now they say they don't have enough money to buy the salt, the sand and put gas in the trucks. Maybe we should just forget all that - everyone could go back to using chains again and we wouldn't have to keep canceling everything when it gets snowy or icy.

Besides being irritating to put on, there was a downside to wearing the chains... they were noisy and not just a little noisy - you couldn't sneak up on anybody with your chains on. You can hear a chained car coming a mile away.

On that Saturday morning, we rattled loudly all the way from Worthington to the Switz City gym and pulled in next to another car decorated with chains. I imagine many cars were rattling that day because there was standing room only.

Despite the heavy snow, the gym was crowded with Greene County folks - this was the real Indiana basketball I remember. In those days, both the north and the south sides of the Switz City gym were all glass and those Saturday morning Sectional games were always bright and exciting.

Those were the days when we didn't call off an event, especially not an Indiana basketball game, just because it snowed. Nope, we were there with bells, or chains, on.

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I think it was 1965 we had the big Sectional snow. I always thought we had one of the best sectionals in the state, at least it was for all of us. I remember cruising the top of the gym checking out all the beautiful Greene County girls.

-- Posted by RLU on Fri, Dec 19, 2008, at 12:57 PM

I don't remember the 60's but I know they do still make the chains for tires, I remember the chains and I know that out west they are a mandatory part of life during the winter months. I have a friend who lives in the moutains in Montana and she tells me about putting the chains on her tires every year.

-- Posted by Polar Bear on Wed, Dec 17, 2008, at 8:37 PM

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Anna Rochelle is editor of the Greene County Daily World and can be reached on Facebook or by sending an email to indianarose@fastmail.us.