Roads weren't cleared and cars weren't so fast in the 'good ol' days.
Since shortly after New Year's Day, we were experiencing what some folks are calling a "good old-fashioned winter." I'm not sure about the "good" part, but we have had a real dose of winter weather recently, the kind some of us can remember from years ago.
It is interesting to note the way we deal with winter today compared to some of those years back in the 1940s and '50s. When it snows and the roads start to get slippery, some folks expect the highway departments to be out on them "now." While that may not be a realistic expectation when the snow keeps coming, some of us don't want to deal with driving on slippery roads.
The idea of slowing down to a safe speed may not hit us until we get into a problem. Today's cars, with all their safety features, can slide off the road mighty quick - or into the path of another vehicle. So we want the current bare road policy to be followed and now, not six hours later or tomorrow.
With weather like we have experienced recently, except for the January thaw of last week, we should try to understand what the highway departments have to deal with - and the costs involved.
Back in the 1930s, 40s and even 50s, our highways were not treated like they are today. We didn't have the large trucks with salt spreaders on the back of them and one man driving them.
We would see the trucks out there in all kinds of weather with two men in the back. They would use a salt-cinder mix and these men with shovels would throw this mix out the back in large arcs. And just the intersections would have this mixture applied.
Roads were usually plowed, but the snow would build up and, with the traffic, often turn into deep patches of ice. Travel was slow but people didn't seem to be in as much of a hurry in those days.
Cars were also different back years ago. They were built higher with more road clearance and higher wheels. And there weren't nearly as many of them. My unofficial guess would be about half as many cars compared to today.
Speaking of cars, the first ones that I remember Dad owning didn't have a heater. In fact, even during my years in high school, none of our cars had heaters. What a luxury it was when we finally owned one that we could travel in without being cold and our feet freezing.
Windshields would frost over inside mighty quick. Dad bought a small fan to blow air over them to keep the frost down. We used these fans even when we had a heater because there were no windshield defrosters.
Interestingly, what we didn't have we didn't miss. As improvements were made and we were financially able to buy them, we really appreciated the comfort and convenience they provided. Now we just "expect" them and are unhappy if we can't get them.
Our cars of today are really comfortable with heaters and defrosters that work quickly and efficiently. Some have automatic temperature controls and most have air conditioning. What a dramatic improvement over the years!
Recently, the media has been telling us how much getting rid of all this snow has cost us. I can't quote all the figures, but the job has been expensive. And we are paying through our tax dollars. So if we want and need, and we do, bare wintertime roads that are not slippery, we should remember that it is our taxes that pay the price.
If we are going to live in northeastern Ohio, we have to deal with Old Man Winter. Complain, sure, but do our best to enjoy it. We have it a lot easier than our parents and grandparents.
Parker is retired from The Ohio State University and is an independent writer for the Tribune.