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February 13, 1967


JAMA. 1967;199(7):494. doi:10.1001/jama.1967.03120070106019

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The recent snowstorm that overwhelmed Chicago and parts of the Middle West emphasizes the need for precision in our language. Newspapers declared that the storm "paralyzed" the city, a statement that might be good journalese but is not at all accurate. To be sure, airplanes and trains did stop running; buses made some negligible progress but rapidly oecame comatose; automobiles and trucks were virtually immobilized, producing arterial thrombi (traffic arteries, that is); and only elevated trains and subways maintained a sluggish flow.

But did all this amount to paralysis? Not a bit. On the contrary, more Chicagoans indulged in more muscular activity than in any comparable period in memory. Householders emerged to shovel their sidewalks. Automobile drivers shoveled out their cars stalled in the streets or buried at the curb. Philanthropic citizens, who had no back trouble, would help their neighbors in getting cars out of ruts. Children and adults,