With all this talk of the big blizzard hitting the East Coast last weekend, I am thinking a lot about the blizzard of ’78. The weather lady on TV said there would be 5-foot drifts in Boston last weekend.
I like playing in the snow but I don’t like living in it. That means that during the winter you have to snow blow the driveway at 6 a.m. run back in to take a shower and get dressed for work.
And sometimes when you go back outside, the newly fallen snow is blocking the car again and you have to snow blow the driveway twice in one morning.
It’s definitely not a lifestyle for weather wimps. A weather wimp is someone who steps out in 50 degrees and says, “Brrrrrr.” There are a lot of these people where I live now.
I vividly remember the blizzard of ’78 though. I was 11 and my brother was 13. We lived in a suburb east of Cleveland. No one could go anywhere and it was so cold, 10 below, that the electricity stopped working. The wind chill was minus 56 degrees!
It was super snowy and blustery outside but that didn’t stop my brother and I from wrapping up in our warmest snow clothes with every inch of skin covered and walking a quarter of a mile to the convenience store to pick up a few things for the family.
We were bored silly with no TV and I really wanted to get out of the house.
I thought it was super fun adventuring out. But when I think about the prospect of my 12-year-old son going out in a storm like that with no parents, it sends shivers up my spine.
But we did things differently in the '70s. We didn’t wear helmets when we rode our bikes and skateboards, even very long distances, and we when we played, we ran all over the neighborhood all day long without a ton of parental guidance. I don’t think helicopter parents or tiger moms had been invented yet.
In any case, when we walked to the store during the blizzard of ’78 in Ohio, we were the only ones outside. There were no cars or people. We went to pick up a few things like food staples and if I remember correctly, a box of Kent cigarettes for my dad. (When I picked up his cigarettes he always included a note with our phone number.)
I was so happy to see that the store was open when we got there and it really was fun due to the adventure factor.
I also remember that storm was so monumental that my elementary school did an anthology of poems and stories called The Blizzard of ’78. I was so proud that my art was chosen for the cover!
There were some bad things that happened as well. Some people driving on the freeway ended up spinning their cars and hitting the guard rail or other cars. Some pulled over to the side of the road because the snow blocked their vision. There’s not much you can do to control a car when you hit a sheer slab of ice.
The police had to rescue most of the people who tried to drive on the freeway that day.
One time when my dad was driving home from his advertising job at Eaton Corporation, he spun out on the ice on a bridge and was on the 6 o’clock news. We actually were watching this on the news when it happened and when he got home he said that was him. They replayed the spin a few times which was scary and cool at the same time.
I hope that my friends and family on the East Coast had all of their batteries and food ready for the big storm and that they had some adventures of their own last weekend.