It was still dark and the roads were treacherous, but Deanie Arnold had the coffee going before 6 a.m. at Red’s Grill. The rest of the workers were there, too, at this place that has been open every day since 1948.
Red’s is Rock Hill’s longest continuous-operating restaurant because it doesn’t matter what the weather is outside, they’ll be there. A sign was posted to let customers know that the restaurant would close at 2 p.m., but the morning crew had to be there whether the road outside was a skating rink or not.
“We’re like the post office – sleet and snow and all of that, and we come in anyway,” Arnold said. “People expect us here.”
Schools were closed, and some businesses opened late or closed early. For some, though, there is only the present to make a dollar, so snow late Tuesday and ice on Wednesday meant work.
“I must have delivered more than 50 pizzas Tuesday night,” said Steve Pilecki, a Papa John’s driver. “The roads out by the Catawba Indian Reservation, they were all ice. The college at Winthrop? They ordered and ordered, so I drove and drove. If I had to go 15 miles an hour, that’s what I did.”
At lunchtime Wednesday, a group of teens home from schools ordered pizzas – and there was Pilecki delivering again.
“This is the job,” he said.
Out in rural Sharon in western York County, Brownie’s convenience store – the crossroads for life out there – didn’t close until 10 p.m. Tuesday, then re-opened at 4 a.m. Wednesday.
“We sold every gallon of milk in the place,” clerk Jessie Cook said Wednesday morning. “Today, we’ve been steady even though the roads are still a bit icy. Biscuits, coffee, people need it. So our people were here at 4 in the morning to open.”
At the Richburg Volunteer Fire Department in Chester County, which has duties for miles along busy Interstate 77, several firefighters spent the night at the station in case they were needed to respond to wrecks, fires – whatever emergency that might arise. Some of their wives cooked chili, and the firefighter waited to help.
“We were pretty lucky this storm; we just had one guy who slid off the road near the Kentucky Fried Chicken,” said longtime Richburg Fire Chief John Agee. “He was fine. No problem.”
No doubt that driver thought his slide off S.C. 9 was a problem, and you know he was happy all those volunteer firefighters – who had worked full days Tuesday before the snow hit, and then went back to work Wednesday at regular jobs – didn’t stay home in the snow and ice.
Joe Shackleford, chief of the Rock Hill Rescue Squad, said the storm and aftermath didn’t require as many runs for his volunteers as some past storms. But the rescue volunteers responded to any call sent their way, including a few hospital runs Wednesday morning.
“When the weather is bad, we have to be ready to help people,” Shackleford said. “Their emergency means we have to help.”