February is here and it’s been a surprisingly mild winter here in Naperville. Normally January is cold and snowy, but we haven’t had too much of that so far this year (knock on wood). We never seem to talk about winters when they are mild, so I thought I’d reminisce about some of the worst winter weather in Chicagoland during my life.
The Worst Chicago Winters 1960-1985
The first ‘bad’ winter I remember was in 1967 when a blizzard hit northern Illinois out of nowhere. The weather on January 24 had been relatively warm, so no one was ready for what happened over the next two days. Temperatures dropped to almost -10 while winds over 50mph threw 2 feet of snow all over Chicagoland. The fact that no one was prepared for this blizzard is what makes it the worst winter storm I can remember.
During the blizzard of ’67 Oswald’s was open every day. I remember my dad putting on his heaviest winter gear to walk the 5 blocks to Downtown Naperville. When I asked him about the blizzard, he said the only customers he remembered were snow removal workers who stopped in for candy bars.
The 80s had a couple of very cold winters. The weather on Christmas Eve in 1983 hit minus 25, which caused problems for many families and businesses. My family and business were affected when the boiler at our bookshop in Downer’s Grove died due to the cold. The employees were almost as bundled up as the customers. The store had an indoor temperature of 40 degrees when we closed up at the end day!
On January 20, 1985 Chicago experienced the coldest temperatures on record—peaking at minus 27! This was a particularly bad day of weather for me as the pipes going to the second floor of my apartment burst. Outside there was a waterfall of ice cascading down the side of the house.
The Worst Chicago Winters 1985-2020
Most of you will remember the last bad snow we had—the 2011 North American Blizzard. We accumulated almost 2 feet of snow overnight on February 1st! I remember driving the company plow truck with my brother Tres. We had to plow out Mary our pharmacist so we could get her to work. After that we drove out to Woodridge, where my son Wil was living at the time and plowed his car out so he could help open the store. Mary told me that she remembers filling two prescriptions all day, one of which was an antibiotic. Oswald’s has always been open, even during the worst days, to get our customers their medicine when they need it most.
Last year (2019) we had the Polar Vortex, where temperatures got down to around minus 10. Flights were canceled, businesses and schools closed, but at least we didn’t get very much snow. I’m thankful that we’re getting a milder Winter after the vortex. I love having all 4 seasons, but winter can get a bit extreme sometimes (summer too, but that’s another article).
Last Minute Valentine’s Day Shopping at Oswald’s Pharmacy
With the mild winter (so far), I am looking forward to having some nice weather for Valentine’s Day. I hope you all have something fun planned with your significant other. If you are in need of a card or gift we’re always here for you. Our shelves are stocked with Russell Stover, Fannie May, and Abdallah chocolates, along with the usual suspects like conversation and jelly hearts.
And a reminder for all you last-minute shoppers: Our card selection is still the best in town. If you need a last-minute card for Valentine’s Day (or anything else), stop and pick one out. If you’re really last-minute: we also have our great gift section, so you’re sure to find something your partner will love. And for you last, last-minute shoppers: we will be open until 8 on Valentines Day!