Calhoun: Wake-Up Call

A snowy trip into DIA...and back in time

JetBlue brought me to Denver last night only a few hours late. But even though we landed at Denver International Airport, with its all-weather runways, I felt transported back to another airport -- the old Stapleton International Airport -- and thirty years back in time, to the Blizzard of 1982.

Unlike this past weekend's foot-deep dump, that Christmas blizzard buried Denver in close to thirty inches of snow, stranding residents across the city for days -- and, in some cases, at airports around the country. I spent a day at O'Hare in Chicago before I finally made it on a flight to Denver --- but as it turned out, that was the least challenging part of the trip. Getting a cab to Washington Park? That scene was so chaotic it looked like photos of people trying to flee before the fall of Saigon....but with three feet of snow.

And with the memory of that night thirty years ago suddenly fresh, I was apprehensive as I walked past the hundreds of people camped out in the concourse (no more than on an average Sunday, says DIA spokeswoman Laura Coales, when there are normally between 200 and 500 people spending the night at DIA). I fought for the last roll of toilet paper in an A-concourse women's room that looked like a war zone, and made my way to the sole cab line on the west side.

Where the chilly wait looked hours long.

But with a Survivor-like alliance between downtown-dwellers (I'd learned one trick three decades ago), we were able to snag a cab -- without even resorting to bribery. And when I arrived at my buried-in-snow car at the Westword office, a couple of happy club-goers even helped me dig it out.

Welcome 2013.

From our archives: "15 Reasons why Denver is the coolest city."

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun

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