"I see by the papers," writes M.K., "that the City Fathers are talking about running a legal lottery here.
"In principle, I am opposed to government sponsored gambling because it puts the tax burden on the poor man instead of on the rich one. However, since Maryland's lottery tickets are already taking millions of dolars out of the pockets of Washington people, I guess we will have to begin our own lottery in self-defense. At least we can keep the profits at home.
"In every lottery there is always a suspicion that insiders may be controlling the winning numbers. When the District government becomes the biggest lottery banker in town, I hope it will set up safeguards against hanky-panky.
"Perhaps instead of a drawing we ought to bet on natural events, as they do in Alaska in the big sweep-stakes based on the exact time the tee will break. Here we could bet on which shopping center parking lot will contain the last vestige each winter's snow. I pass the intersection of Rockville Pike and Montrose Road every day and I'd be willing to bet on the snowpile at Korvettes. It looks like it's about three stories high."
M.K., you sound very unsophisticated to me. if there were money to be won on which snow pile would be the last to melt, you can be sure there would be people out in the dark of night beaming industrial-sized heaters on anything that might interfere with their cashing a bet. Mother Nature's snow removal plan may be the world's best, but the sharpies would find a way to help it along.
Incidentally, M.K., you will notice that although you spelled "snowpile" as one word and I reproduced your spelling in quoting you, in my reply I made it two words, to conform with this newspaper's official style.
We make one word of "snowbank" and "snowdrift." Also "snowball," "snowbird," "snowblind," "snowfall," "snowman," "snowsuit," "snowplow," "snowshoe" and "snowslide." And we mustn't forget "snowflake" and "snowstorm." But we write "snow pile" as two words. Why? Because the term is not given as one word by our current authority, the Second College Edition of Webster's New World Dictionary (Collins-World Publishing).
"Snowbanks" and "snowdrifts" are created by natural forces. The stuff we're talking about is snow that was piled into huge mounds by mechanical means as merchants attempted to make their parking areas usable after snowstorms. And I will have to agree that some of those piles really do look like they'll last until the umpires throw out the first baseball manager of the 1978 season.