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The Blizzard of '78

I have unusually fond memories of the record-breaking storm.

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.

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Michael Mihalick February 13, 2013 at 06:47 PM
Great story Shell..I remember that trek to the convenience store, too..the Kent cigarettes..the all day ventures on our bikes or skateboards..what fun we had..I will never forget being the only ones out and it feeling like an awesome adventure/expedition..I also remember walking out on the frozen Lake Erie at the park and climbing up on the breakwall..do you remember that? I will never forget watching Dad on the news with Dad spinning through the cars and making it through ok..The news guy said here comes another one..and his car was spinning and spinning sideways and made it through the different piles of cars..Wow..what wonderful memories of those days..
Sheila Sanchez February 13, 2013 at 08:48 PM
After reading Michelle's post, I had a vision of her and her brother all bundled up like the boys from A Christmas Story! So cute! Michelle, you're a crack-up. Love the part about weather wimps! LOL!
Irene Aida Garza-Ortiz February 13, 2013 at 11:20 PM
This is CA, & this has been the coldest Winter we've had in a long time. California's are not used to the cold. Not to mention the strong strain of the Flu, Bronchitis, & Pneumonia we've had this year....WOW! I'm on my 3RD dose of antibiotics fighting Bronchitis! Loving these Sunny days!
Michelle McIntyre February 14, 2013 at 12:37 AM
It was the green Buick, right? I can't seem to get the picture out of my head. Yes, I remember walking on Lake Erie and Dad teaching us how cold it had to be for how long to make it safe to walk on frozen water. I know it didn't happen very often.
Michelle McIntyre February 14, 2013 at 12:39 AM
Irene: Yes, I totally agree with you that it's odd to be sick when it's 65 and sunny out. I luckily have had only light colds and nothing worse (knock on wood). Sheila: A Christmas Story was shot in my home town of Cleveland so you know that's a special movie to me and my family! We watch it more than once every Christmas when we have access to a TV.

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