YOU DECIDE FOR YOURSELF

This is an event I shall never forget. Some have called it a miracle. But then ...you decide for yourself.

It was late January some years ago and I was teaching my graduate class at SUNY Fredonia. It was a Thursday evening. And what a snow storm we were having! The class normally ran from 7:00 to 9:20 PM. From inside the classroom, we could observe under the campus lights, a ravaging snow storm in progress. The winds were howling with a fury and heavy falling snow was swirling into deepening drifts. We were about half way through the class when, at about 8:00 PM, I along with the class decided that we best adjourn early and get on our way to our homeward destinations. Within a matter of minutes, the classroom was cleared, each gathered their belonging, and homeward bound each went their way.

The cars in the parking lot were covered with at least a foot of new fallen snow. I remember a member of the Campus security force reminded each in the parking lot to drive carefully, that the highways were treacherous and the visibility was even worse. I put my gear in the back seat, cleaned my car of the accumulated snow, and started slowly on my way out of Fredonia to my home in Gowanda.

Taking Route 39 in Sheridan to Forestville was my usual way home. The snows were falling at an extraordinarily fast rate and one could feel the southwesterly wind gale hitting the side of the car. Traveling the short distance to Forestville was a slow go. I had no idea of the fierceness of the storm. I arrived safely in Forestville, and then I continued heading eastward toward Gowanda slowly ascending the hill out of Forestville. I put on my car radio, as the tires were grinding their way up the hill, and the announcement was made by the news commentator that "Route 39 from Forestville to Gowanda was impassable due to the heavy accumulation of snow and blinding visibility". There was absolutely no way I could possibly turn around at this point. I was less than a mile east of Forestville, when my car was suddenly pulled into an insurmountable drift on the passenger side, with my car facing eastward toward Gowanda. I was completely encased in a snow bank to the top of the passenger door. There was no way I could move forward or backward. There I was, and there was no cell phone, what was I to do? I did not dare leave the car, nor was there any reason to remain with it. A number of minutes passed with no solution, and the snow continued to accumulate with no end in sight; the outdoor temperature was nearing zero. Waiting it out seems to be my only recourse, but that was no solution at all.

Suddenly, off in the distance in a meadow to the south, two small moving lights pierced through the blinding visibility. Within a minute or so, two snow mobile drivers arrived at the door of my nearly buried car. They, of course, could see my almost impossible situation. Without hesitation, they told me to "remain in the car, keep the car running and they would get me turned around." I am unable to recite what happened next; that part is a mystery. I only can only recollect... almost instantly my car was now on hard pavement and safely turned around, facing westward back toward Forestville. Immediately, I opened my car door to thank the two of them and to reward them for their efforts. They were gone...no tracks, no lights, no sounds, just plain gone! I was shaking with amazement! There are no words that express my emotion.

Slowly, I traveled down the hill back into Forestville, thinking that at the bottom of the hill, the snowmobile drivers would be waiting. Nothing was in sight; the center of town was motionless. I continued on my westward drive on Route 39 to the junction of Route 20 and then traveled slowly toward Silver Creek to the intersection of Route 438. The going was slow; the visibility was far from good, and the snow accumulated rapidly. I traveled the route through the Native American Reservation on my homeward way to Gowanda. What a relief it was to see the intersection of Rte. 438 and Aldrich St. in Gowanda!

It was now 30 minutes past midnight; four hours from the time I left the College. Normally, I could make the trip in 30 minutes. The snow was still falling at a ferocious rate and the winds were whipping the snow into deepening drifts. But, finally I was safely home to be warmly greeted by my wife Elaine and daughter Lisa and son Mark. They asked me to tell them about the long trip home. I was almost speechless; for you see, I had experienced something that words are just not adequate to describe. I call it miraculous. But then...you can decide for yourself.