The local author is releasing the second book on snowy Central New York this month – Oswego County today

A snowplow stuck in heavy snow in Oneida County during the winter of 1945. Photo courtesy of Jim Farvaglia.

FULON – After hearing that there were more winter storms than the 1966 blizzard, including storms from 1947 and 1958, Jim Farvaglia, a writer based in Fulton, wrote his second book on Central New York for snow.

Historic snowstorms in central New York“,” to be released later this month, is a mouth-to-mouth collection of stories for those who have experienced major winter storms. Farfaglia previously wrote “Voices in the Storm: Stories from the Blizzard of 66,” but wanted to learn more about the winter history of central New York.

Jim Varvaglia’s photo

“After I wrote Blizzard’s 66 books, people kept telling me their stormy stories,” Varvaglia said. “Some people insisted that I wrote about the wrong storm; that 1947 or 1958 was worse. It made me wonder how far I could go back to find interesting winter weather stories.”

Varvaglia added that his first entry came from 1717 to be exact, with a little help from the National Archives.

“The Fulton Library helped me find some of the books in the National Archives,” Varvaglia said. “I managed to find this wonderful book, [“Early American Winters”] by David Ludlum. It was a book about the great snowstorms in the United States of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and there was little Oswego there.”

Besides the National Archives, Varvaglia has spoken with locals from more than 100 towns and villages in the area who have experienced weather phenomena or called up stories from their family members. Across generations of stories, there has been one common theme: survival.

“People’s lives were in danger,” Varvaglia said. “We don’t have that kind of extremes anymore, I think hurricanes would be one thing, but snowstorms, they stuck with us for a while but they don’t endanger us like they used to. Some of those early stories, people didn’t know if they were going to survive.”

Farfaglia decided to use the 1980’s as a cut-out for the book, because then there were technologies like Doppler radar and the weather channel that changed how Central New Yorkers experienced snow. Among the winter survival stories, a year without summer really stands out in Farfaglia.

“I think it was [1816]”They called it ‘the year without summer,’ because for some atmospheric problems there was no sunshine and there was no summer,” Varvaglia said. “The crops failed. People would starve to death.”

With survival comes a strong community. Farfaglia shares stories of snowmobile drivers bringing life-saving insulin to those in need and men traveling through the snow to the nearest town in search of whatever food they can find.

“The stories that shocked me the most were the people who entered the storm in primitive snowshoes,” Varvaglia said. “There was one story from Mexico… He walked from Mexico to New Haven, which was the next city, to buy yeast so the baker could make bread. He was the hero of the community.”

This was the “exuberance” that Varvaglia wanted to capture, something he believes revolved around caring for your neighbors and the community.

While community is a topic that Farfaglia revealed during the writing process, his favorite part of the book was one of the first chapters and the creativity he was able to showcase.

“As I continued searching, I kept getting this image in my mind of a snowflake with a single lake effect and how that snowflake is such a phenomenon,” Varvaglia said. “I took that photo, and created a class to explain the effect of a snowy lake through the eyes of a single snowflake, Snowflake Journey. That was really fun for me.”

Farfaglia will be holding several events to promote the book, the first being a book launch and a conversation with Oswego city historian, Mark Slosek. It will be held at the River’s End Bookstore in Oswego on Thursday, October 20 at 6 p.m. Farfaglia will also be at the Parthenon Books in Syracuse on Saturday, October 22 at 1 p.m. for another book launch and at Steamer’s in Oswego on Wednesday, November 2, at 7 p.m. for their History on Tap event which will feature a presentation based on the book.

Farfaglia is a local writer and shares a monthly history column with Oswego County Today. His latest piece is arrow A a story from New Haven.

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