Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Remembering the Blizzard of ’78

I’ve lived in Massachusetts all my life and I find it difficult to remember a snowier winter than this one. Maybe there has been a winter to rival this during the time I have walked the earth, but I just can’t remember one as far as frequency of precipitation goes. The snow just keeps coming and coming like a worn out sequel of a sequel. We’re already up to “Snowblast 6: A New Beginning” or “Bride of Sasquatch IV.” It just snowed again here in Boston for the umpteenth time last night, and, as has become my habit on alternating days, I got up a little earlier, pulled on the old boots, grabbed the shovel and scooped snow for an hour and a half. This time it was ten inches. Not the heavy, slushy stuff that struggling chiropractors pray for, but ten inches are ten inches. It takes a while to shovel. We don’t own a snowblower — which is OK, I kind of identify with Paul Bunyan anyway — but a snow shovel can only go so fast. Or I can only go so fast.

Well, it makes me hark back to the Blizzard of ’78. Yep, there was some snow for you. It was when God said, “Let there be white!” and He saw the white and that it was good. Good for paralyzing a whole region of the country for about two weeks. I don’t have the facts and figures in front of me, but we were talking some serious snow. It might have been somewhere on the order of six feet, not counting the giant drifts that were clearly ridiculous and impossible and yet there they were.

The morning after the snow had ended, when calm spread over the land and God had his little laugh, moving on his His next project (probably locusts, that’s something that never gets old), my father woke me to say the time for shoveling had come. I was twenty then and it fell to me and my young, supple muscles to dig my family out. We had a storm door on the front of our house with two large panes of glass that could be detached from the inside. Every inch of that door had snow pressed against it. My father took out the top pane and boosted me up through the top layer of snow to get to the outside of the house.

I sank a bit and then felt blindly for the snow shovel that was somewhere to my left. I found the handle, managed to extricate it and then proceeded to dig my way down to the ground. And, naturally, that was the beginning of something that went on all day.

Everybody on my street shoveled snow. Neighbors I never spoke to, some I didn’t even recognize, were out there. There was a certain fellowship about it. Everybody thought it was funny. Everyone was friendly.

It was like that for a week. A driving ban was in effect and many businesses stayed closed (except for essential ones, like grocery stores), so we didn’t have to go to work or school. People simply walked or cross country skied to get to places. If you needed to buy some groceries, you dragged a sled down to the supermarket about a mile away — just like how it must have been in olden times — and dragged your groceries back. If you didn’t have a sled, someone would loan one to you. We were all in it in it together.

After a week or so, things went back to normal. What a disappointment! I thoroughly enjoyed that blizzard.


Blogger Henry said...

I remember it well myself--just a young kid on Long Island, I have the same memories as you. Walking from neighbor to neighbor on top of the snow. I think I even have a picture of me in my Army Green shiny coat, with the fur hood making a snowman in that mess.

8:33 AM  
Blogger trinamick said...

So, it was like a normal winter in NE?

12:58 PM  

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