By Dick Kraus
Newsday Staff Photographer (Retired)

It wasn't cold last week. There was no snow and ice. At least not aboard the cruise ship on which I was conducting my lectures.

In the Mexican Riviera it was in the upper 80's.

On Long Island it was in the single digits.

On the ship we had heard that upstate New York had as much as nine feet of snow. My audience, who knew that I was from NY, felt badly for me. I told them that I lived downstate and all we had was an ice storm. And, I told them that I was not there for it and I was not working anymore, and didn't even have to think about being out in it; freezing my widgets off to make photos for the paper. Lucky me.

The author enjoys a cool Corona on a warm beach in Zihuatanejo, Mexico.

However, I did get back to JFK Airport in time to feel the after effects of the storm. My Jet Blue Flight was delayed in San Francisco for an hour and a half. After a 5 hour flight, we landed only to find that there would be an hour and a half wait until a gate opened up. Then it was another 2 hours of pandemonium fighting the hundreds of passengers and thousands of pieces of luggage crowded into the baggage claim area, trying to locate my luggage. We didn't get home until 3:30 AM.

And you heard that retirement was a snap.

I suppose, in retrospect, it was a better deal than all of those years of covering Long Island blizzards, hurricanes, Nor' Easters, droughts and what have you.

©Newsday Photo by Dick Kraus
Northport Harbor. Lobster boats iced in.

There were times when my fingers felt like inanimate stumps of wood, they were so cold. I found it difficult to wear gloves while operating a camera. It was difficult to change lens and shutter settings. Well, actually, it was even more difficult without gloves after your fingers verged on frostbite and were so numb that you couldn't even tell if your forefinger was even on the shutter release button. The driving, wet snow would coat my eye glasses and my camera lens. I can't imagine why I would retire and leave all those fun times behind.

When we would have an unusually heavy snowfall, the paper would hire drivers with 4 wheel drive trucks and vans to get us through the 6 to 8 foot drifts in order to make photos. If the storm didn't bury us too badly, we would drive our own cars, but our Photo Editor would let us team up so that one photographer drove while the other shot pictures. This way, if we ended up in a ditch, there was another warm body to help get the car back on the road

©Newsday Photo by Dick Kraus
Bike trails in the snow on the Long Beach Boardwalk.

©Newsday Photo by Dick Kraus
An ice storm coats every surface.

My friend and associate, Dick Yarwood, lived a few miles from me so we would often team up. We would alternate as to who drove and who shot. We had it down to a system. After so many years, we knew exactly what the editors were looking for.

©Newsday Photo by Dick Kraus
A lone pedestrian walks home with groceries rather than trust driving on snow covered roads.


The first thing that we did was head for the nearest station of the Long Island Railroad. That was the busy commuter railroad that hauled Long Islanders into NY City. The nearest station was Northport, just a couple of miles from where we lived. The shooter of the day would get the crowds of commuters on the platform, leaning out into the falling snow, trying to spot the headlamps of the approaching train. There were always bigger crowds when it snowed. The car commuters would leave their autos and take the train. The editors loved that. Then, if schools hadn't closed, we looked for the kids at the school bus stops, all bundled up against the cold and wet. If schools had closed, we looked for them building snowmen and sledding down the gentle slopes in the area. Long Island is as flat as a pool table, but we knew where the few slopes were.

But, there was time for sledding photos. They would be available all day long. First it was time for breakfast and coffee. We would call our desk by phone or radio to assure our editors that we were working the story. We would take our time over breakfast because we already had the crunch stuff in the bag.

©Newsday Photo by Dick Kraus
The need to drive to work necessitates removing snow from the car.

©Newsday Photo by Dick Kraus
A quartet of plows team up to clear the Long Island Expressway.

©Newsday Photo by Dick Kraus
Building yet another 10 foot snowman. (Yeah, right!)

After that we cruised over to a bridge over the Long Island Expressway to get backed-up traffic and maybe a plow at work. Then it was time to cruise around looking for the scenic beauty of a freshly fallen snow. When the sun finally would come out, it wasn't hard to find such a shot. We didn't want to rush back to the paper with our stuff, because by now the phones would be ringing off the hooks with people announcing that their kids had built 10 foot snowmen and we had one editor who would chase us all over the place to photograph them. Most of them were only 4 or 5 feet high, anyway. Who needs it?

First of all, more than half the staff would be covering the storm and they would only use a couple of shots the next day; maybe a few more if it was a humongous storm. So, we would fit in a few more coffee stops. When our bladders were bursting, we knew we had done a good day's work.

Dick Kraus



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