Saturday, December 19, 2015

1950's big post-Thanksgiving snow: finally gone

The unexpected snow began in Ambridge on the morning of Friday, November 24, 1950, and by the time it stopped, 26 inches--much higher in drifts--had buried Ambridge. Much of the snow still covered the borough at month's end, despite days of cleanup efforts mounted by Ambridge Borough and individuals.

I'm pretty sure snow-weary Ambridge residents weren't happy to see the December 1 forecast of "more snow expected." Just what they needed. The snow had been more than inconvenient, it caused real hardship for some, and it was dangerous in more ways that one, although I didn't find any snow-related deaths reported in Ambridge, unlike other parts of the area.

Fallen borough building spouting
Daily Citizen
December 1, 1950

Daily Citizen caption:
AN ELDERLY WOMAN PEDESTRIAN narrowly escaped injury last night when spouting gave way from the roof of the borough building with a crash. The woman, whose name could not be learned, happened along at 11:30 o'clock and missed being hit by a few feet. The spouting was weakened by the heavy fall of snow. It will be removed today. In the meantime the area is roped off.

The Citizen reported that snow cleanup was continuing. Traffic had been jammed for hours the night before on Route 88 (later Route 65) in Freedom and Baden because of snow removal. The result was Ambridge plant workers being late for work. The jam lasted for so long that truck drivers fell asleep during their wait.

Alleys and three blocks of Merchant St. were finally cleared. And Ambridge's First Ward (the south end of Ambridge, a good portion of it razed in the early 1970s for redevelopment), the borough's often-neglected neighborhood, would finally get its first post-snow trash collection.

Still, travel on Merchant St. could be tricky. The photo below shows December 2 traffic on the 600 and 700 blocks of Merchant looking south. Clerc's Jewelry Store, 710 Merchant St., was at the sign you can see part of at the lower left. The only other business I can identify for certain in this photo is Young's Shoes, 701 Merchant, owned by Saul Young, but I believe the business with the white facade on the southwest corner of 6th St. was Gutowski's Bakery, 699 Merchant.

Ice and snow covered 600 and 700 blocks of Merchant St.
Daily Citizen
December 4, 1950

Citizen caption:
MERCHANT ST. JAM --There was plenty of trouble on Merchant St. Saturday due to ice and snow. Deep ruts caused transportation to proceed at a snail's pace at times.

The December 4 Citizen reported that snow removal by crews and equipment working around the clock had, by that point, cost Ambridge $12,000, equivalent to almost $120,000 in 2015. Snow was finally cleared along local highways, helped by two days of warm weather. For the first time since the day of the snow, buses were running on normal schedules.

Steam shovel removing snow in Ambridge
Daily Citizen
December 4, 1950

Citizen caption:
MOUNTAINS OF SNOW were removed from streets and alleys over the week end. As a result today there is no slowing of traffic. One week after the big storm the town is well cleared of nature's handiwork.

But, just when Ambridge thought snow had been cleared in time for the Christmas shopping rush, the December 11, 1950, Citizen reported another snowstorm was supposed to hit the area, with three inches predicted for that day, and five to seven inches more expected to fall that evening and the next day. Drivers were warned driving would be "extremely hazardous" and were advised to use snow chains on their tires. On December 13, the Citizen reported more snow was "likely" that night.

On December 20, the Citizen reported that the snow piles on First St., which had made parking difficult for shoppers there, had finally been removed, the last street to be cleared.

The first two posts with even more photos of Ambridge during the big snow were:

"1950's big post-Thanksgiving snowstorm," November 28, 2015

"The slow, difficult clean-up after 1950's big post-Thanksgiving snowstorm," December 5, 2015

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