Berger’s Burg: Queens denizens take winter in stride

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This winter has been particularly harsh. Last week, I traveled to Cunningham Park for some rest and relaxation. I grabbed a bench and had a very delightful conversation with the person seated next to me. An hour went by before I realized she was a snowwoman.

The snowfall this year has been very heavy and slippery, but I was ready for all eventualities. I kept two things handy - my composure and my Blue Cross card. I endured so many frigid days, I got cold in places I never knew I had.

It was so frosty I sneezed and broke my Kleenex. I went to a Queens mall to buy a snow shovel but couldn't buy one. My assets were frozen. In fact, the only thing keeping me warm this winter is my heartburn. Oh, how I hate cold days. Gloria remarked that it was lucky that we did not go to Florida. We would have come back with an ugly red sunburn. However, by staying in Queens, we turned a beautiful winter blue.

How many of my Queens readers remember the "Lindsay Snowfall of 1969?" Let me refresh your memories. John Lindsay was mayor of New York City. He brought into his administration all the available top minds to help him run the Big Apple. That was all well and good.

At that time, Gloria and I were married five years, and were raising two infant sons (aged three and four). Gloria had just received her bachelor's degree in education and was beginning her first teaching job at PS 229 in Woodside. She was very excited and wanted to make a good first impression.

She picked out her finest dress to wear, had her hair done, and planned to arrive at the school very early to prepare for meeting everyone. Well, the day before, it began to snow. And it snowed and it snowed and it snowed.

Mayor Lindsay, in his wisdom, decided to deploy most of his snow removal equipment to Manhattan and ignored Queens, leaving it high and dry (or should I say low and wet). The temperature nosedived and by the time our esteemed mayor sent the snow removal equipment to Queens, it was too late. The mountain of accumulated snow froze solid and the equipment was useless. For a full seven days, Queens was snowed in and immobilized. All vehicular traffic was at a standstill. Buses couldn't run, Delivery trucks couldn't run. And people couldn't run.

The stores soon ran out of milk, bread, and other staples, and with two small boys to feed, we were very worried. Neighbors helped us replenish food and other necessities. Needless to say, Gloria never made it to school. That was one winter and one mayor I will never forget.

But, haven't you noticed that, in general, we Queens guys take the cold winters in stride? This is in contrast to our neighbors in Manhattan who seem to never stop complaining about the weather. They must not have our intestinal fortitude (no, that doesn't mean that our stores sell more Imodium than their stores do). We merely are tougher than they are.

Over the years, thanks to my ingenuity, and the fact that my brother Jack was a meteorologist in the Army, I compiled a special weather chart comparing the reactions of the two boroughs to all kinds of real and hypothetical winter weather patterns. You will be amazed at the results: During winter, when the temperature hits 60 degrees, Manhattanites wear coats, gloves and wooly hats. Queens guys sunbathe.

When the temperature hits 50 degrees, Manhattanites turn on the heat. Queens guys plant gardens.

When the temperature hits 40 degrees, Manhattanites' foreign cars won't start. Queens guys drive with their windows down. When the temperature hits 32 degrees, Manhattanites' bottled water freezes. Queens guys flock to a spot beneath the Throg's Neck Bridge to watch the waves beat gently upon the shore.

When the temperature hits 20 degrees, Manhattanites shiver uncontrollably. Queens guys have their last cookout before it gets cold. When the temperature hits 15 degrees, Manhattanites hover around their heating units wrapped in blankets and thermal underwear. Queens guys throw on a sweatshirt.

When the temperature sinks to zero degrees, Manhattanites fly away to Florida, California, or Mexico. Queens guys go to Jones Beach to watch the girls frolic.

When the temperature dips to 20 degrees below, Manhattan, above 42nd Street, becomes a snowball. Queens guys get out their winter coats. When the temperature drops to 40 degrees below, the Empire State Building shivers, causing a minor earthquake. Queens Girl Scouts begin selling cookies door to door.

When the temperature falls to 60 below, Manhattan streets, unless covered by horse blankets, curl up and crack. Queens Boy Scouts postpone their winter survival classes until it gets cold enough.

When the temperature descends to 60 below, the Statue of Liberty develops goose bumps. Queens guys go charter fishing. When the temperature plummets to 100 degrees below, Mayor Giuliani abandons City Hall. Queens guys are frustrated by signs banning roller skating and bicycles on the borough's major arteries.

When the temperature shivers at 237 degrees below and only microbial life survives, Queens guys complain of their doctors' cold hands.

When the temperature dives to 460 degrees below, all atomic motion stops. Queens guys start saying, "Cold enough for you?"

When the temperature records an improbable 530 degrees below, hell freezes over. The New York Jets win the Super Bowl.

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