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Stan's Manhattan to Meadowlands Snowplow

It was January 22, 1987 and Stan Fischler had to find a way to the Meadowlands to cover the game. Only problem? The blizzard of the century

by Stan Fischler / Special to NewJerseyDevils.com

During mid-afternoon on game day I normally would get a ride to The Meadowlands with my sidekick Dave Katz.

When my buddy phoned to report that he was marooned at the Brooklyn Bridge, I had to think fast. First thing i did was ask my wife, Shirley, where she had parked our tiny Honda Civic Wagon.

"It's across the street in front of the bank," she said. "And for crying out loud; be careful. Call me when you get to the rink."

(I muttered to myself, "Toots, you mean IF, I get to the rink.")

At 3:15, I started the Honda on the corner of 110th Street and Broadway on Manhattan's Upper West Side. I had nobody to talk to but myself and I did that from start to finish. One thing I didn't do is kid myself.

The second I turned north on Broadway, I knew this was trouble. ("I'm lucky if I get to 125th Street," I mumbled.)

Broadway already was strewn with abandoned autos but my Honda easily schussed around them. But trouble was ahead -- specifically, the ramp at West 130th Street leading to the West Side Highway.

Sure enough cars were skidding and swerving up the incline with a couple of cars blocking the right lane. Somehow, my Honda got around the stragglers and on to the highway.

("The trick," I said to myself, "is whether I can make it to the GW Bridge.")

Going north the West Side Highway spans three lanes but now only the left one was operable and clear of stalled vehicles. Now that I had made it to the bridge, the confronting issue was the uphill access road. 

Sure enough, there was just enough traction and just enough room to squeeze on to the lower roadway which -- for the most part -- was shielded from the storm. 

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Once out in the open with two New Jersey highways as my options, I had to think fast; hope and pray.

Normally, I'd take a "short-cut" off the bridge and avoid the Turnpike for a few miles and then connect with the Pike just short of the arena.

("Better take the Pike; chances are it's gotten some plowing.")

I can't say it was the "right" move because I never learned whether the short-cut was do-able. But thinking that plows would make a difference was pure fantasy. 

Getting around the car-stuck Turnpike must have made my heroic Honda feel like a linebacker carrying a football 100 yards from goal line to goal line.

Time and again, I expected the three lanes south to be fully blocked -- and they were from time to time -- but somehow or other there'd be a break and my two-wheel drive vehicle slithered through.

("No point in looking at my watch; when I get there, I get there and that's that.")

Now I could see the arena's white dome and only hoped that the access road to the parking lot would be passable.

It was a bit after 5 p.m. when I got within striking distance of the final challenge -- plowing through the drifts a half-mile from the arena.

("Drifts are funny," I murmured. "I wish I could figure where they're piled up and where they're not.")

No matter. My Honda could have been re-named Lady Luck because I pulled into the lot somewhere around 5:30 p.m. I gave an affectionate pat to the windshield and made my way to the press room.

To my surprise -- and pleasure -- all our core SportsChannel crew was on hand and we were ready for the broadcast when and if the players were there to play.

Eventually, they were along with the doughty fans who got to see a game played under inimitable conditions.

William Shakespeare once wrote All's Well That Ends Well.

Well, the Good Guys won and i got home safely; although -- like getting there -- i'm not sure how.

P.S. The return trip was no bargain either. Although the snow had stopped falling by Midnight, the Turnpike heading to the GW Bridge was a mess of stalled trucks, cars and buses.

Mostly it was because of the long uphill en route to the bridge toll booths.

Don't ask me for any more details.

I'm sure my tiny Honda could tell you as much as I could.

Too bad it's not around anymore to spin the tale.

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