21 Aug 2014
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"Nemo" Threatened to Bring All of New York City to Its Collective Knees

Turned out to be simply more hype than harm. A birds eye view from expatriate St. Louisans in the Big Apple this past weekend.

Robert Baer, the younger brother of Ladue-Frontenac editor Jim Baer, is a transplanted St. Louisan, retired and living in New York City. A graduate of the University of Missouri and Michigan's law school, this former Ladue High student took all of the hyped up storm in stride.

Amanda Meier, former resident of Olivette and John Burroughs and Penn graduate also resides in NYC. This is pretty much how the storm of the year turned out to be one rather major dud for both of our contributors.

Robert Baer first:

“Nemo threatens to bring Metropolis to its knees.”  Have no fear; New York was not threatened by a killer blowfish, swallowing hard boiled Yankees and tourists alike in an orgy of aquatic violence. 

Rather that was the prediction of breathless TV meteorologists, posed in front of stationery snow plows or atop mountains of road salt dominating the airwaves on the eve of the latest named winter storm, a mighty Nor’easter formed by the merger of two weather systems over coastal Connecticut.

When did they find the need to start naming snow storms anyway? Isn’t global climate change frightening enough without having to give new weather events scary handles?

Well, I’m a transplanted St. Louisan, by way of nearly 40 years in the frigid Great Lakes, so, more amused than terrorized by a predicted snow storm.

As a kid, I remember that wooden sled with red metal runners tucked away in the garage, waiting, JUST WAITING, for the big storm that would trigger the considerable effort required to get Dad to drive us down to Forest Park, Art Hill for the one minute sled run down towards the pond at the bottom. 

Whoa, better stop in time. Didn’t matter that grass was showing through the snow and so many other folks were on the slope that dodging sleds was more challenging than the sport itself.

My brother and I would both hop on and pretend we were the guys in those fancy bob sleds at the Squaw Valley or Innsbruck Winter Games. The real deal for me is that I remember one winter in the early 1950s when our parents went to New York City.

I was about 7 at the time. Dad had business at the home office and Mom was along for the glamorous trip to Gotham – shopping and a Broadway show. Our great grandmother from Peoria came to care for us. And did we get a huge snow storm that time – or so it seemed to me. Our German Shepard practically disappeared in the drifts.

Grandma made ice cream, of sorts, from snow. No competition for Ted Drewes or Pevely Dairy, but a great memory none the less. We had a blast and great stories for the returning parents. No doubt, their stories planted seeds in my mind about New York, the huge department stores, Broadway shows, taxi rides, Central Park, Lady Liberty and all. 

Now here I am, a full time New Yorker, living within cycling distance of Times Square with a view across the mighty Hudson to “Jersey”. Expectations exceeded and disappointed in equal parts.

I have to admit to being a bit bored with the Broadway entertainment scene; the small scale acting and comedy venues are much more fun. Eight floors at Macy’s, city block, flagship aren’t much better than two at the Galleria.

The gold to be mined here is in the people you see, and sometimes meet, every day. New Yorkers are thrust into confined quarters in ways that would astonish Midwesterners.

Subways and neighborhood markets are sometimes so crowded that touching strangers is unavoidable. Think about that as you rush down I- 64 in your Grand Cherokee. 

People here help others in public every day, hold open doors for one another and smile at strangers, who smile back. Go figure. Not to say New Yorkers can’t be tough as nails when the situation warrants. All in all you don’t have to feel alone among the teeming masses unless you chose to – some do.

But back to Nemo. As the snow started falling last night my wife, Sara, and I went out for a walk in the approaching storm. We saw buses with chains on the wheels and sanitation trucks fitted with snow plows.

We were surprised to notice that lines in the foods stores and Bodega’s (convenience stores) were about normal. But then we stopped at our favorite wine store on Broadway.

College age kids were lined up out the door to stock up on emergency supplies to get them through the predicted winter “storm of the century”. Some things are the same wherever you live.

Amanda Meier:

Everyone says your first year of marriage is full of challenges, but I never expected weather to be one of them.  After all, my home base of New York City is not exactly known for meteorological activity. Yet in the four months since our wedding, my husband and I have been displaced by Hurricane Sandy and blasted by a blizzard this past weekend.

Having grown up in St. Louis, my husband, Bennett, and I have seen our fair share of severe weather.  After graduating from John Burroughs in 2006, we headed east with dozens of storms under our belts.

We landed in New York after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania in 2010, having seen and survived many storms there, as well.

So when we returned from our honeymoon to warnings of Hurricane Sandy’s imminent arrival, we felt prepared.  But our tiny apartment in Manhattan’s Kips Bay neighborhood leaves little room for emergency supplies and weather radios; what we knew about storm preparedness from our childhood no longer applied.

We gathered only the essentials and prayed to avoid the worst of it. Unfortunately, Mother Nature had other plans, knocking out our power and water for four days and sending us to stay with friends.  Bennett spent much of the week at his midtown office, where he is a commodities research associate for Morgan Stanley

I worked out of a Starbucks, as the Chelsea headquarters for Rogue Confections, where I am the director of sales and marketing, was also powerless. Though the situation was less than ideal, we were thankful to have each other, friends to stay with, and a home to return to the next week.

With Sandy not far behind us, we were again concerned when we heard winter storm Nemo was approaching.  But rather than fearing the worst, we decided to embrace whatever came our way.

We invited friends over and watched as Nemo blanketed us with snow through the early morning hours.  Fortunately, this time we were spared the worst of the storm and were able to enjoy a great snow day despite the cold. 

It turns out that the key to storm preparedness here is not the bottled water and granola bars of our youth, but great friends and family and an open mind.  In natural disasters, as in life, it’s all about how you roll with the punches. 

New York Winter wonderland on the Ladue-Frontenac Facebook page.



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