Archives for February 2020

Cold through the ages

An L&A Archives dive into the “winter” records

February: master of deception with its bright but frigid days. A 95 year old member of my family once told me that February is the sunniest month of the year. She obviously wasn’t talking about my disposition as I stared blankly at her, disbelieving. She’s 95 and has seen her fair share of Februaries, maybe this is the year I trust more. I just can’t get July out of my head whenever I think about this…

Sunniest or not, February is cold, and people here in Lennox and Addington County have known all about surviving and thriving in the frigid winter months. Some folks like George Detlor (1794-1883) even understood what it meant to survive and thrive in those months not traditionally thought to be frigid. One of Detlor’s diaries spans from 1822-1849, and his entries for May 1834 paint an interesting, albeit frightening, picture for that month:

  • 13  Last night and this morning snowing 2 inches all go off by night
  • 14  snowing again
  • 15  snow and frost  Icesickles [sic] 1 foot long

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MAY! Foot long icicles! 

Of course people deal with the cold in their own ways. For instance, I like to wear what are clearly spring/summer clothes with sweaters and pretend winter’s not happening. Incidentally, you now have insight into how I feel about spending money on clothes for one season. And if you’re this guy, you do the logical thing and turn parts of an airplane into a snow machine.

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N-6212   Airplane modified into snow machine, [192-?]. Lennox and Addington Historical Society Collection

We don’t know much about this fellow and his winter death trap. Please feel free to get in touch if you do. This may or may not be Lennox and Addington County but how could I leave this shot out?

Winter clothing and fashion through time is just as fascinating as an airplane snow machine. Winter clothing today looks almost summery next to the billowing, heavy dresses and muffs of the past. Fur had its day in the sun (not really in the sun but I’m still pretending winter’s not happening), and there’s plenty of proof of that in our photograph collection. 

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Left: N-2482  Unidentified woman in winter overcoat, carrying fur muff, [1864]. Stephen Benson Photograph Collection.
Middle: N-2955  Elbert and Russ Kellar in winter coats, [1910]. LAHS Collection.
Right: N-5345  Tom Mills, 1935. Plumley Family Photograph Collection.

Spring is around the corner and the bulky coats and hats will be returned to the basement closets. There will be a spring in our steps (pun intended), and the birds will come alive with song. Sunny February will be replaced with even sunnier months – July is obviously sunnier than February! Winter is hard but at least we have heaters in our winter vehicles now. 

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