Tom reflects on Tucson's strange snow day

I once read that The New York Times didn't want to be considered just another newspaper, but rather the paper of record, something that could be looked up 50 years hence to provide the reader-researcher a full accounting of an event and the proper contemporary perspective thereof. I remember thinking, "How delightfully pretentious; good for them."

Having grown up in L.A., I read the Los Angeles Times, which, by the time of my youth had managed to turn itself into a pretty good paper, having reversed decades of being a shameless mouthpiece for the robber barons, water thieves and racist thugs who transformed the sleepy hacienda into whatever the hell it is today. The L.A. Times gave you news by the pound; one of my favorite stories was about the time that Barbara Bain, who starred in the original Mission: Impossible TV series, sued the Times when her dog was killed by the extra-large Sunday Times that had been thrown over her wall and landed on the dog. The L.A. Times was thorough, but I don't think it ever claimed to be the paper of record.

I'm not really sure what the Weekly will be like in 50 years, but I want to take this opportunity to state that I was here on one of the greatest days in Tucson history. I reveled in the Great Snow Day of 2013.

I was up at the barber shop at Oracle and Magee when The Magic began. I was overdue for a haircut. Back in the day, I had great hair. I had that wild, curly, never-look-the-same-way-two-days-in-a-row Italian fro. But seeing as how that was just about the only positive physical characteristic I had, a vengeful God punished me and it sorta mostly went away. (I generally avoid mentioning that I also have green eyes, lest He hear me and send down a zap to turn them blue.)

To add insult to injury, what hair I do have left grows at a ridiculous rate, so I need regular maintenance. Even the slightest procrastination leaves me looking like Doc Brown in the Back To The Future movies. However, during basketball season, I can only get a haircut after a loss. That's not superstition ... OK, it's superstition. During the 2011-12 season, my girls didn't lose a game between the end of November and the beginning of February. With a stretch like that, the best you can hope for is an Einstein look, but what I got was Mick Fleetwood after he stuck his wet finger in an electric socket.

Anyway, this season, the girls put together a nice little streak at the end of the regular season and then, because of some bizarre scheduling, we had to wait 17 days between the end of the regular season and the state tournament. When we finally lost at State, I went for a haircut. I was sitting in the barber's chair, looking out the window, when the pouring rain began to slow down and puff up (like Chubby Rain in Bowfinger). Then it turned to snow—big, fat flakes that floated to the ground. It was absolutely beautiful.

After my barber, Mike, was done, I hurried outside and did what untold thousands of other Tucsonans did at that moment—I went all Andy Dufresne on the snow. You know how, in The Shawshank Redemption, when Andy emerges from that sewer pipe into the rainstorm, he stretches out his arms and raises his face to heaven? That was a whole lot of us.

I felt bad for the people who run the golf tournament, which was starting that day and had to be shut down when the entire course was blanketed. The Conquistadores do great things for the young people in this area and they deserve good weather.

The rodeo went on like it was nothing, because those people are generally crazy and snow doesn't exacerbate crazy.

The UA basketball team played before a packed house despite the weather and a TV-dictated 9 p.m. start. The fun thing was that they played a soccer game at Kino Stadium that night in the intermittent rain and snow and people showed up.

It wasn't the biggest snow day of all time in these parts. Tucson got nearly 7 inches of snow on Dec. 8, 1971. But nobody was really living in Tucson in 1971, so that doesn't count. There have also been four white Christmases (1911, 1916, 1974 and 1987) and at least one white Easter (in April, no less!).

Feb. 20, 2013, is a day we won't forget, especially for those of us who grew up without snow. It was visually stunning and left an indelible mark on our memories. I dare say that it has to be one of the 10 greatest days in Tucson history. It joins the signing of the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo on Feb. 2, 1848 (which left Tucson out of the newly expanded United States); the signing of the Gadsden Purchase on Dec. 30, 1853 (which put Tucson in the U.S.); and Arizona statehood on Feb. 14, 1912.

Other great days in Tucson history include V-E Day, V-J Day, the night when the University of Arizona basketball team won the NCAA Tournament, and the day that the first Popeyes chicken restaurant opened here. I leave it to you to put them in the proper order.

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