Fashionably Warm in Buffalo with Laura Pedersen

Since much of the country seems to be covered under several feet of snow or is at least experiencing those midwinter blues and chills, we thought we’d turn to Fulcrum funny woman Laura Pedersen for a laugh. As the author of Buffalo Unbound: A Celebration (October 2010, 9781555917357) and Buffalo Gal: A Memoir (October 2008, 9781555916923), Pedersen always has some entertaining anecdotes to share about growing up in the frozen tundra that is Buffalo, New York, in the winter. Read on to experience Pedersen’s memories, in an essay she humorously titled “Little House in Lake Erie.” For more information on Laura Pedersen and her books, please visit

And don’t forget to send us your answers to our Mostly True Facts on Buffalo, New York, blog. The contest ends January 27, and one lucky contestant will be picked at random to win a free copy of Buffalo Unbound!

Living in Buffalo, NY, that blizzard-prone polestar of the Rust Belt, during the stagflation 1970s made for some decorating choices that you don’t read about in glossy magazines or see featured on the HGTV network. Fabric “snakes”—bean-filled socks that block drafts from coming underneath doors—were popular handicraft projects right up there alongside rag rugs, tea cozies, and mittens with strings. Form didn’t follow function so much as warm.

We sported the layered look long before it became a fashion statement. This was two decades before lightweight fleece, and so we rumbled around looking like Michelin Men, carting twice our body weight in wet wool. If you fell backward into a mound of snow, you’d be marooned like a turtle on its back. However, no one ever asked, “Is it cold enough for you?” This was considered to be just plain stupid, like saying “Eh?” to Canadians.

Most front halls were a colossal jumble of leaky galoshes, purple and green snorkel jackets with neon orange linings, Buffalo Bills sweatshirts, home-knitted scarves from all the aunts and grandmas in Sisters Hospital with broken hips, and those black Piglet caps with earflaps that would guarantee a citation for vagrancy in almost any other city. A few woolen dickies lay about in case you weren’t getting beat up enough on the school bus. The weak tea sister to the wedgie was to have it yanked over your head and tossed atop the rows of lockers, a veritable dickie graveyard. Nothing sent people into therapy twenty years later so much as being awakened in the night by those long ago demented shouts of “Give me back my dickie!”

Still, we made the most of winter by participating in sports, joking about the inconveniences, and pulling together during a blizzard. Just when you’d about given up on the four seasons, patches of grass became visible and suddenly it was good-bye shoveling and hello baseball, biking, sailing, soccer, parades, and fireworks. The best-kept secret about Buffalo, aside from its delicious sponge candy, is that we have the most beautiful summers in the world, with Lake Erie acting as an enormous complimentary air conditioner.

Buffalo has been voted The City of Good Neighbors, where locals are ready to welcome you to the party or just lend a helping hand. The winters aren’t what they used to be and the old Rust Belt will soon be the new Riviera. So buy now while you can still get in on the ground floor, right above the permafrost.

About fulcrumpublishing
Founded in 1984, Fulcrum Publishing is one of the largest independent publishers in the country, with more than 450 active titles. The company maintains a high standard of quality and pride in its books, with the objective of encouraging readers to live life to the fullest and learn something new each day. Fulcrum Publishing specializes in general-interest nonfiction titles with focuses in public policy, education, Native American culture and history, travel and outdoor recreation, environmentalism, and gardening. Fulcrum is headquartered in Golden, Colorado. The Fulcrum Publishing blog is run and updated by Dani Perea. Please feel free to get in touch with any questions, comments, or ideas by e-mailing her at Dani[at]fulcrumbooks[dot com].

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