As my readers know, spring is my favorite time of year.

I have said it before and will say it again.

It’s the time of year when we drag out the T-shirts and shorts as the temperature climbs over 60 degrees. Our bodies get lots of vitamin D.

The days get longer. Time to sharpen the lawn mower blades. Soon the redbud trees will bloom and it’s time to fertilize the lawn (only to complain about mowing in late June.) And winter is months away, or is it?

Mid to late March can be tricky when it comes to weather.

As the spring sports season begins, high school and middle school students beware, Mother Nature can get angry.

March 16, 1971

As a newbie at Abilene High School on the golf team, the first tournament of the season was hosted right here at what is now Great Life Golf and Fitness.

With the remnants of the old Central Kansas League lingering, the Abilene tournament was not an easy one with teams from Manhattan, Junction City, McPherson and Salina signed up.

It was an exciting time for this youngster who went to the golf course that morning to find it covered in snow.

March 22, 1979

While living in Junction City and working for a newspaper, a blizzard hit central Kansas, causing power outages from Salina to Manhattan.

The staff photographer was on vacation and the Associated Press was wanting photographs of the Midwest blizzard.

I loaded up my Canon AE1 with Tri-X film and scoured the city for blizzard photos. I took pictures of bankers working by candlelight and vehicles covered in snow.

Taking advice from a college graduate assistant at K-State named Pete Souza, I took lots of pictures that day.

“Film is cheap,” the former chief official White House photographer for both presidents Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama would always say.

I was able to develop the film without power but was unable to make prints. Saving some for myself, the negatives were sent on a Greyhound bus to Wichita for the Eagle staff to send out pictures for newspapers nationwide.

The photograph that was selected showed a man operating a snowblower in blinding snow. He was covered with the white stuff and in the background was a vehicle with a fallen tree on top.

The next day that picture appeared in numerous newspapers with the byline “Associated Press.”

March 18, 1984

It was Spring Break and we strapped a stroller for the 1-1/2 -year-old to the top of our Pacer and headed to Fort Worth, Texas, to visit my sister-in-law Cheri’ Couture.

There we attended a St. Patrick’s Day Parade where Michael Martin Murphy was the grand marshal.

We had some Irish whiskey in downtown Fort Worth and went on a carriage ride.

We left on a Sunday morning as both of us were scheduled to work on Monday. We left Fort Worth in a light rain.

Moisture fell throughout Oklahoma. It turned to snow by the time we hit the Kansas border. We did not stop to take a picture.

We drove into blizzard conditions at Wichita. We managed to follow a semitrailer up Interstate 135, not wanting to chance either getting off for a hotel or driving up Highway 15.

The trip from Wichita to Abilene took almost four hours that day.

March 31, 1987

A winter storm closed Interstate 70 from Junction City to the Colorado border. Kathy and I were in Council Bluff, Iowa, where we were attending the greyhound races.

So much snow was falling, the leadouts shoveled off the racing surface between races.

The matinee was eventually canceled because we couldn’t see the greyhounds on the backstretch.

We were scheduled to return to Abilene that afternoon but were told that the roads were closed. The hotel allowed us to stay late.

A phone call back home confirmed that were was no snow in Abilene.

Suffering from cabin fever, we decided to head for home. However, instead of taking Highway 77 south, we went the long way around: Interstate 29 to Kansas City. We were stopped first in Topeka and told that Interstate 70 was closed at Junction City. We headed on where we were stopped at Manhattan, again told that I-70 was indeed closed.

Our pleas of “there’s no snow in Abilene and we live there” were ignored.

Finally, at Junction City, we were ordered off the Intestate and returned to a very dry Abilene via Old Highway 40.

The next morning at coffee at the White House Inn (now the Budget Lodge Inn), I asked about room accommodations. The hotel wasn’t even close to being full.

Yep, my favorite time of year is spring. Maybe because it’s so unpredictable.

Contact Tim Horan at

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