No your grandparents didn’t lie to you

A snow drift that accompanied winter storm Stella.

Regardless of how you feel about climate change or what its causes might be, the winters of the 21st century are no match for those of the 20th century. I do remember some rough weather myself. 

My experience isn’t complete for Tioga County’s weather because I was in SUNY Potsdam for five years (a real tropical paradise, of course) and about an equal amount of time in Florida. I do remember a stretch probably in the late 1970’s when the high temperature was usually in the single digits but I seldom saw the mercury much past zero. 

I also recollect some time back in the 1950’s when I think we had an entire week off from school because of blizzard conditions.

But these were no match for the weather in February of 1934 that pretty much convinced many people that knowing the temperature would require a different thermometer. 

The Owego Gazette on Feb. 22, 1934 reported that the temperatures of the past week had broken the record cold of the winter of 1917-1918. Along the river area the temperatures were fairly “moderate” (Owego had -35 on Jan. 10 and Nichols had -20 on Feb. 11). Leaving the river valley for the higher elevations was a different story: Candor -48; Richford -36; Spencer -50; and Halsey Valley -50.

This was not the record, though, as explained by the Gazette:

“The Berkshire report came from William Clark’s poultry farm at Berkshire. On the night of Feb. 9, Mr. Clark placed the thermometer at the northwest corner of his large poultry house, which is situated near the Owego creek. The wind blew out of the northeast that night so that the thermometer faced the coldest spot. In the morning the thermometer registered 52 degrees below zero.”

Another report from that period (Feb. 13, 1934) told of a sad tale that had been repeated from the Towanda Daily Review. It explained how water would drip from a pipe at Dayton’s Mill and how birds often came for a drink. As a sparrow came to drink its beak became frozen to the pipe. Unable to move the drips soon encased the bird in ice and it perished.

Anyone who still remembers the winter of 1934 should respond back to the Pennysaver at, or contact me directly at 642-8075 or by email to

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