by Tony Figueroa

DONNA: Part of marriage is learning to compromise. This can become difficult during the holidays when families are scattered all over the country. Tony and I had found a way to see more than one family during a single trip.

Let’s travel back to December of 1995, when a holiday trip to Ohio turned into an adventure as we found ourselves right smack in the middle of

T & D: The Blizzard of 95.

DONNA: We were going to spend Christmas with my family in Cincinnati.

TONY: But whenever we went to Ohio we always took a day out of the trip to visit my grandmother, Göta Marta Peterson in Defiance.

DONNA: Trust me, one day in Defiance, Ohio is plenty.

TONY: The plan was simple. We land in Dayton, drive to Defiance, then the next evening after dinner head to Cincinnati about 3 hour’s south.

DONNA: The next morning it had started to snow. The National Weather Service said that a major storm would moving into the area around 5:00pm.

TONY: Change of plans. Instead of leaving Defiance after dinner, we would leave after lunch and be in Cincinnati before the storm hit in time for supper.

DONNA: Did you notice that Tony mentioned food 4 times so far? His Grandmother Martha expressed her love in unusually large quantities of food. When we got up Mor Marta had made a Pre breakfast of coffee and Swedish pastries. Then after Tony shoveled the driveway she’d made a full-blown Swedish breakfast with ham, eggs, home baked bread, Swedish pancakes. She couldn’t stop feeding him. Did she think I was starving her little boy? Then she wanted to feed me. She kept saying, “You’re so tin. You’re so tin.” See outside of LA, being called thin is an insult. And believe me by LA standards I was far from being "tin”.

TONY: Sweetheart, the story’s about the Blizzard.

DONNA: Sorry.

TONY: After lunch,

DONNA: For lunch his grandmother made Swedish meatballs, noodles, mashed potatoes...

TONY: After lunch, we called the Highway Patrol. They said that Interstate 75 was clear for now, but to expect high winds and white outs soon. It was best to stay off the road. I suggested that we spend another day in Defiance.

DONNA: No way, we had to get out that town. Everything Tony has said about Defiance is true. I'm a city girl and if we stayed, Tony's grandmother was going to keep feeding us.

TONY: So we hit the road.

DONNA: His grandmother made sandwiches for the road. By the time we got on I-75, the four-lane highway was reduced to one lane.

TONY: I knew to get behind a big truck, keep my wheels in the trucks tire tracks and don’t try anything stupid. We should have brought our cell phone.

DONNA: It’s 1995, our cell phone was as big as a brick. We know better now.

TONY: Most of the time we were driving between 5 and 10 miles per hour. We tuned on the radio to hear the news.

DONNA: The storm we were expecting came early, and it' been upgraded to a blizzard.

TONY: Every so often we'd see some SUV driving moron, thinking that he was invincible, leave our convoy.

DONNA: We'd find them a mile later stuck in a ditch. We kept listening to the radio for updates, but all we got was the community calendar.

TONY: The tournament at the Defiance Bowl-a-rama has been postponed till next week. The meeting of the suicide support group at the recreation center has been postponed... indefinitely. And the Children's Christmas pageant at Saint John's has been postponed till February 15th.

T & D: February?.

DONNA: We started getting whiteouts and we could no longer see the road.

TONY: The truck we were following was painted white and I could barely make out the red from the taillights.

DONNA: I didn’t want to become a Popsicle.

TONY: Wouldn't you have been more like a frozen Oreo?

DONNA: Your obsession with food is driving me crazy.

TONY: Now the sun was going down. I had been driving for 5 long cold hours.

DONNA: There was no way we were going to make it to Cincinnati that night. We pull in to this town and every hotel is filled to capacity. The clerk at the last place we went to handed us the phone so we could talk to a “Days Inn” manager in the next town who took our reservation.

TONY: It took us 20 minutes to travel a couple of miles. When we got there, the lobby was filled with people who wanted a room. The clerk said that they’re were no rooms at the inn...a fitting remark at Christmastime.

DONNA: We have a reservation.

TONY: These angry Ohioans saw a Black Woman and a Puerto Rican guy...

DONNA: Oh Honey, you pass for white.

TONY: And you don’t? You talk like Jane Pauley. The point being that these Ohioans seeing an interracial couple walk to the front of the line and get a room could only lead to trouble We had trouble with the Klan 2 stories ago.

DONNA: Well we’d just driven through a Blizzard... that’s real white power. Anyway, my parents down in Cincinnati had been frantic. They were so happy when I called to say that we had found a motel room for the night.

TONY: The hotel had a Mexican restaurant, a really good Mexican restaurant. By the next morning the storm had passed. It was a beautiful day. We went to gas up the car, and while paying for the gas I saw the headline in the paper saying that six people had died in the blizzard.

DONNA: Probably the same people who thought their SUVs could drive through anything.

TONY: I just thank God that we did wind up like these Six “Darwin Award” winners.

DONNA: It could have been worse.

TONY: How?

DONNA: We could have spent another night in Defiance Ohio.

END