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Southern Californian Not Ready for Real Cold
Mike Werthman, Alum
Columbia College 1962

My reaction to the first cold days I experienced in Morningside Heights were a little like Dorothy's initial response to being in Oz: "I don't think we're in Kansas anymore."

In fact, I didn't have to wait until actual winter to have abundant visceral proof that I was in a place unlike sunny San Diego, where I had spent my childhood.

In Fall 1958, I immediately fell into a behavioral trap awaiting a Southern Californian used to a mild climate most of the year. I merely looked out my Livingston Hall dorm window: if it the sun was shinning, that meant -- by San Diego standards -- that I didn't even need a coat that day, especially since most of my classes were in nearby Hamilton Hall.

I should have recognized the new reality the first morning I stepped out onto the chilly Quad. It took three mornings of deep chills to prompt me to try a different approach.

Friday afternoon, I bought a ¾-length loden coat with fiberglass lining. It had a tall turn-up collar, was large enough to go over a sports jacket and sweater. I usually wore it with a good wool scarf. This outfit got me through Thanksgiving. After that, for the remainder of my years at Columbia, I usually wore hooded sweat shirts with my loden coat, and on the really cold Winter and later Spring days, I’d have wool pajamas on under my regular clothes.

The changes in the seasons had caught me by surprise. But I found Columbia and New York City warm in all other ways.

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