Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Two of the Top Banned Books and the Blizzard of '77

At the Pelham Library, we have been reminiscing about the Blizzard of '77, during this 30 year anniversary of the event. I was amused to find this article by a friend in the Welland Tribune which mentions two of the most banned and challenged books of all time. With the permission of the editor, the story appears in full. Photo: Erno Rossi, author of White Death reads over stories from 30 years ago.

The Blizzard of '77
by Brian DiMartile
Ah! The blizzard of 77! I remember it well. Who doesn't? After finishing teaching, I stopped to shop at the Pen Centre, not really comprehending the total effects that this storm would bring. Warnings spread like an avalanche that the 406 to Welland was closed; that one would be crazy to even attempt to make it home.

Lo and behold, I bumped into my Aunt Lorraine and three other Wellanders. All of us wanted to get home and decided to pile into my large Lincoln thinking that it had a better chance of ploughing through the drifts than any of their lighter weight vehicles.

As we started south, I felt quite nervous but confident enough that we could make it ­ until we went further. Cars were piled everywhere and no life was in sight. Blowing snow whipped around us as we zigzagged in darkness from lane to lane, trying to avoid the abandoned vehicles. We knew that we were in trouble when we confronted a graveyard of giant ploughs left stranded at the corner of Highway 20.

To make matters worse, one woman in the back seat with my aunt was moaning and screaming that we were all going to die. She had no rosary and wished that she had not changed purses that day. As she wailed in competition with the wind, my aunt tried to calm her.

Her screams were not welcomed by anyone since all of us thought that there could be an element of truth at the foundation of her fear. At her wits end, my aunt reached through the darkness for a book on the back shelf; shoved it in the lady¹s hand and screamed, "Here¹s a Bible. Pray for us!" The woman clutched the book to her bosom. She felt safer now as she began reciting the Lord¹s Prayer ­ at least a hundred times.

We made it as far as the old Sportsman Motel at Turners Corners and spent the night there. That Bible and her prayers had helped us find sanctuary ­ according to her. It wasn't until the dawn of the next day that she realized that she had been praying with one of my literature texts not the Bible.

We all had a chuckle and thanked God for hearing her prayers - even if it seemed blasphemous to have been using one of the most controversial and banned books in North America -- THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

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