For reasons now incomprehensible to me, one glorious sunny May morning in 1980 I left San Diego and ended up in Denver. 1
Once I settled in I considered the move a push: mountains for ocean; same laid back attitude both places; same easy access to pot; gorgeous athletic women in both cities. All in all, it seemed if there was going to be a drawback, it was going to be the weather.
The weather in San Diego is constant. Like the sun and moon and stars are constant. It’s pretty well perfect in San Diego every day. 2 Denver? Well, that sunny May morning I departed San Diego? Denver had itself a record snowfall. Yes, I said record snowfall. In May.
However as it turned out, weather was also a push. I had forgotten, you see, to factor in earthquakes. While not technically weather, I was more than willing to trade off-season snowfalls for being unceremoniously surfed off my water-bed by minute long temblors at 3:00 AM. With aftershocks.
There was just no comparison.
So I adjusted to the Mile High life with an illegal smile. 3
But the Christmas Eve blizzard of ’82 was without precedent.
I won’t go into detail – you’ve undoubtedly your own cadre of acquaintances, drunk uncles and overbearing bosses who have regaled you with wild and woolly stories of the 3-5 feet of snow that smothered Denver in less than 24 hours. But there may be a similarity or two worth exploring between that mythic storm and recent events in Kansas City. 4
Take Bill McNichols, for example.
Bill was mayor of Denver back then and had been for some time. He may even have born to the position. Bill just seemed inevitable, you know? Like he would always be Mayor.
Then the Christmas blizzard happened and nothing moved for a week. Worse, I’m pretty sure most of the Christmas Eve snow stuck around to April.
Denver spent millions on snow removal, the city had a fleet of 50 snow plows, but even the major streets (6th Avenue and 8th, Colfax, Federal Blvd, Lincoln and Broadway, Speer Blvd, Alameda, Hampden and Colorado Blvd) were slooooow to be cleared, much less any of the neighborhood or side streets.
As it happened the following May Denver elected a guy for mayor who makes Tom Cruise look of average height. 5 As much as most people liked ol’ Bill, they just couldn’t get past all that snow on the streets.
The point being ol’ Bill had been Mayor of Denver forever, it seemed, and like that…he was gone.
If I were a betting man, I would wager that people in Denver liked ol’ Bill a hell of a lot more than most Kansas Citians like Mayor James. 6
- By way of Midland, Texas, of all places, where I was served “cowboy coffee” in bed every morning by a dried-up, stick-thin crone who insisted on calling me ‘baby jesus’. On the plus side of that layover…well, hell. There wasn’t any that I recall. ↩
- Remember…this was 30-someodd years ago; my memories may have…improved…a bit since then. ↩
- Bonus points for attribution. ↩
- To include power failures, thank you very little; the Charles manse was bereft the benefits of modern living from (roughly) 3:00 AM yesterday until the wee hours of this new day. We took it for a teaching moment – the fireplace afforded both warmth and sustenance. Though I must admit to disappointment over the Asta’s lack of enthusiasm for either skinning or eating the small brace of hares I trapped. ↩
- Federico Pena. Feddy and the Dreamers, they called him and his staff. Pena (nice guy, erstwhile city councilman and all of 5’4″ in his lifts) went on to build DIA and become Secretary of Transportation under Clinton. ↩
- ol’ Bill wasn’t in the middle of several lawsuits either, as I imagine James will be. No matter what gets rebuilt at J.J.’s, that block may well hereafter be known as Sly’s Doom. ↩