Poly's Snow Day 72 Years Ago

A snow day in Pasadena? With temperatures in the 70s this week it seems unlikely, but 72 years ago on January 11 Pasadena and Poly were covered in a blanket of snow.

Dubbed “The Big Snow,” the Los Angeles Times reported that the Rose Bowl was transformed into “a dishpan full of milk” and an Alhambra hardware store put up a sign that said, “Snow Plows for Rent — Hurry!”

Though the blanketing of snow caused headaches for some residents not equipped with snow supplies or winter gear, the snow created unexpected fun for children not accustomed to the weather.

"Of course I remember the day it snowed!” Maggie Taylor Cunningham ’55 told the Polytechnic Archivist. “I ditched school that day, with my Mother’s permission, to stay home and play in the snow."  

Julie Clayton ’51 shared that her parents awakened her at 4:00 a.m. to tell her it was snowing.  Her street was covered solid with fresh snow. “I did not go to Poly that day because we couldn’t get out of our driveway on Monterey Road!”

Olin Barrett ’52 was in the sixth grade at Poly on that memorable date. “We were between houses and were staying temporarily with family friends on North Vermont below the Greek Theater, and my mother drove me to school each day. That morning our vaguely scenic route was spectacular, with all the snow-covered hills and mountains. I also recall some disappointment that the academic schedule at Poly was unchanged, no extra recesses for snowballs or snowmen. The snow was special, and on that one day, the snow was more important than our lessons.”

With online learning in full swing, many students in colder climates wonder if snow days are a thing of the past. Poly students aren’t likely to see weather like this again, though a light dusting of snow was reported in some of Los Angeles’s suburbs during the rainstorm in December 2020.

Photos and quotes courtesy of the Polytechnic Archives