Clearing snow after a blizzard in Madison, MN (Photo courtesy of MN HS archives)

Strong winds swirl snow across my kitchen window. Large blotches of it stick to the screen. It’s the beginning of a Minnesota blizzard—a much-predicted blizzard.

It’s also Ash Wednesday. On this, the first day of Lent, Communion will be served and ashes smudged on parishioners’ foreheads at religious services for those willing to brave the weather and drive to church.

Surely, TV meteorologists will dub this “The Ash Wednesday Blizzard.” They’ve appeared first on every local newscast all week, flashing computer-generated graphs, charts and colorful maps across the screen, describing the dangerous weather pattern about to engulf the entire state.

What did we ever do without them?

Well, back when I was a young girl in the ’40s and ‘50s, we listened to Cedric Adams on the radio. Television was in its infancy. Very few people in the small southwestern Minnesota town where I lived owned a set.

Cedric Adams of WCCO / Photo courtesy of MN Historical Society

Radio was our medium; Cedric Adams was our messenger. Broadcasting daily from WCCO Radio in Minneapolis-St. Paul, he kept us connected not only to the quirks of Minnesota weather, but to any and all happenings from everywhere in the world.

Cedric Adams Noontime News aired midday and Cedric Adams Evening News at 10 pm. Having a folksy way and gregarious style, Cedric, as everyone affectionately called him, appealed to our farmer and Iron Ranger population, as well as with small town folk, like my family. We never missed a single broadcast!

Cedric also wrote a daily column, called “Cedric Adams in This Corner,” in the Minneapolis Star. He was a well-known personality, with a devoted following. Such was his celebrity, elegant Charlie’s Café Exceptional Restaurant in Minneapolis named a sandwich after him.

And Cedric was one of us. He was born in tiny Adrian, Minnesota and also lived for a while in Magnolia, (pop. 261). He attended the University of Minnesota where he was a speech major with an English minor.

So popular was his radio show, airline pilots passing over the region reported that lights went out all over the state when Cedric Adams signed off his evening newscast.

As a kid, I rejoiced whenever I’d hear Cedric’s predictions of a blizzard coming our way. It would be nearly impossible for busses to get through rural roads to transport the many “country kids” from neighboring farms to our school. We’d have a snow day for sure!

I’d pull on my heavy Dutch Boy snow pants and get out of the house. Tobogganing was big back then. A neighbor kid had one, which we dragged to the top of the steepest hill in town. Four or five of us piled on and sped downward. Again and again and again.

In addition to skating and making snowmen, this was the only time my best friend, Myrna, got to stay overnight with me, or me with her. Canasta was the rage! We’d sit at the kitchen table and play for hours and hours into the night.

In retrospect, Cedric Adams’ personality and charisma was very much like another famous Minnesotan. This one, Sen. Hubert Humphrey, went on to become Vice President of the United States.

Today, as I write this article, roads in southern part of the state are closing. Gov. Waltz is readying the MN National Guard for a peacetime weather emergency. The winds grow stronger outside my window.

Although it didn’t happen, I shudder imagining that all of this could have marred my Valentine’s Day wedding.

And I wonder what my dad would think of the sophisticated weather computers used by meteorologists today. He’d often step outside and study the sky. Then the old farmer in him would emerge, and he’d proclaim what was about to happen next with the weather.

He was almost always spot on!

Carol Hall lives in Woodbury. She’s a longtime freelance writer, a University of Minnesota graduate and a former Northwest Airlines stewardess.