Feb 7, 2008

The Blizzard of Feb. 1978

The Blizzard of '78, as catastrophic as it was for many people (54 lives lost), is a truly fond memory for me. Thirty years ago this week, I was stranded smack dab in the middle of the "Storm of the Century" and by the time I was UN-stranded, I was engaged to be married to my sweet wonderful husband. At the time, I lived in southern New Hampshire, and had been dating Jeff for several months. He lived in North Reading, MA and we only got to see each other on weekends. (Yes, he drove 90 miles every Friday night to see ME!) Jeff's parents went to Florida for a vacation in early Febuary, and he invited me to spend a weekend at his house. I drove down on Friday, Feb. 3rd and was meant to leave on Sunday evening. If I remember correctly, it started snowing late Saturday. Although we knew it was snowing out, being lifelong New Englanders it just didn't occur to us that this storm was going to be anything but a good ol' Nor'easter, and we'd be shovelled out and plowed out in just another day. But it snowed and it snowed and it snowed -- I remember big chunky snowflakes creating almost white-out conditions when you looked out the windows. At one point, Jeff and I went out the back door straight into the garage -- Jeff wanted to start shovelling his van out. I stood there and watched as he lifted the garage door -- and there was a WALL of snow -- and he lifted and lifted and we just couldn't believe that this snow just didn't stop! When the door was fully opened, there was about 1 foot at the top of the door that was open air -- the rest was solid, scarey snow. Despite the fact that the van was parked just a foot or two from the door, we could not see any evidence of a vehicle. That's when we knew -- this storm was different from all others we'd ever been through. The entire state (sorry, Commonwealth) of Massachusetts was closed by Monday morning. The Governor (Dukakis) was on television telling us not to go out under any circumstances -- that you could actually be arrested if you tried to drive anywhere. The reports of people stranded on the highway ( particularly Rt. 128) were heart-wrenching, as well as the calls to TV stations with stories of missing people and families. Jeff's parent's house as on a secondary street, so we thought it would be a day or two before we got plowed out. What we didn't know was that the snow was too deep for snow plows to handle! When we finally did hear the road being cleared, we discovered that they simply started at one end with a bucket loader, scooped the snow into a dump truck, and slowly came up the road to clear it, hauling away snow as they went. I was mortified to find that it was "that time of month" and I was totally unprepared. Now here I am playing little Susie Homemaker to the man I was totally in love with and trying hard to impress, and I had to tell him I needed tampons! LOL! But he solidified my feelings for him when he bundled himself in every imaginable piece of winter outerwear we had, and trudged down those unplowed roads in thigh-deep snow the half mile to the nearest open store to rescue me. Honestly, how many men would do that?!? Jeff and I knew by the end of the week that we both wanted to be married and set up housekeeping on a permanent basis. We were married on July 22, 1978. And to this day, almost 30 years later, I know he'd STILL trudge to the store through 8 foot snowdrifts if I asked him to. Yes indeedie, he's still my sweetie.


karen said...

So much fun to read your reminiscences (sp?) about the blizzard of '78! The middle school kids I was subbing for yesterday were just amazed that I was ALIVE when that happened! I was pregnant with Doug (OMG - He will be THIRTY in May!) and remembered how lucky I felt that I didn't have to shovel! My other favorite memory of that storm was my dad walking boldly down the middle of the street in defiance of any cars because the governor put a ban on driving! Thanks for the memories!

The Calico Quilter said...

During that winter I was trying to get to Tennessee for my first post-college job and was snowed in at the town where I was living. I couldn't drive south because Interstate 75 had been closed due to the snow! I don't remember a storm so bad that they closed the interstate since. What memories!