Blizzard! (Where were you during February of 1978?)
Today, if all goes, well, well (?) – at least from the perspective of the local weather-folk – we’re in for a big, honking blizzard, which is something we haven’t had in a few years.
I’m prepared. There are oranges and apples in the fridge, and bananas in the stamped aluminum fruit bowl on the fridge. We’ve got milk, eggs, and bread (both gluten-free and gluten-full). Batteries (purchased last fall for the Sandy threat). Chocolate. And wine.
I just went to the library, so I’ve got my reading bases covered.
So we’re good, even if we do get the predicted two feet.
Oh, yes, and I also called the guy in the condo association who kinda-sorta is in charge of shoveling to let him know that I’m not planning on doing any shoveling this time around. Somehow or other, I always end up doing the initial pass out in front of the building. This year, I’ve decided to hang up my shovel, although I will make sure that the storm drain on the corner is open for business – a task that I’ve handled for the last few years with a genial neighbor who’s well into his 70’s (he may even be 80-something). For some reason, the folks who own the mansion on the corner who, by custom, should be responsible for clearing the storm drain next to their mansion on the corner, do not seem to get that their shoveler should take care of this – even though I have pointed it out a few times.
So, while I won’t exactly be singing ‘let it snow, let it snow, let it snow’, we’re good to go if the weather outside is frightful.
That this big storm has been a-brewing on the anniversary of the Blizzard of 1978 is just enhancing the excitement.
The Blizzard of 1978. Now that was a storm.
The evening it started – which was a Sunday – my boyfriend (now husband) and I had dinner at an Italian restaurant in the North End. I believe it was called Teresa-something-or-other. I believe it was on Richmond. I believe it’s no longer there. And I'm 100% sure that I had some type of chicken and artichoke dish for dinner.
The snow was just starting, but the wind was already whipping by the time we left for home.
What happened next was pretty darned extraordinary, and – until we lost power (and heat) for a while – we watched quite a bit of it on the handful of TV stations that were then in existence, getting to see Governor Mike Dukakis, in all of his crewneck-sweatered glory, as the take-charge kind of guy we knew he was. In addition to Mike in his sweater, the images that stand out the most in my memory are the shots of the cars stranded on Route 128. The sinking of the Peter Stuyvesant – where the banquet hall at the late and not particularly lamented Anthony’s Pier 4 was housed. (As I recall, it listed there for a few years before it sunk-sunk, or was hauled away.) And, of course, Shelby Scott, the WBZ-TV reporter who was always sent out to cover the worst weather, and was in her absolute element during the Blizzard.
For a week or so, no one went to work. No one went to school. And no one could buy bread or milk, which – since then – has caused locals to go into panic-purchase mode when a storm-yield of more than six inches is forecast. People were cross-country skiing in downtown Boston, and downhill skiing on Beacon Hill.
Walks were great fun, but we spent much of the time-out hunkered down in Jim’s hovel of an apartment on Pinckney Street. (Hey, I was in my twenties.) My sister and her husband were stranded in town, and stayed in my tiny but non-hovel of an apartment on Lime Street. (We dropped in on them to eat hot dogs, which I had in my Lime Street freezer. Possibly the last time I had hot dogs in my freezer.)
The National Guard was out in full force for snow-removal, and to keep people from trying to get in their cars and drive anywhere. (Seeing armed soldiers on the corner of Charles Street was weird and pretty darned chilling.)
When the banks opened – this was pre-ATM – the limit per customer was $50.
I took my $50 to the store to get – what else? – bread and milk.
There was a big sign up asking people to take only what they needed, but the woman in front of me at the checkout line – a typical Beacon Hill doyenne of the time: fifty-ish, blond hair pulled back with a headband, fur coat – was clutching at least a dozen loaves of bread, which she spilled onto the counter. Shopping for her shut-in neighbors, no doubt.
A few years later, I began working at a company where a bunch of employees were stranded at the computer center. For years, they told stories about breaking into the candy machines in order to survive. And yes, they did keep the computers up and running. Worse off were the folks attending the Beanpot Hockey Tournament at the old Boston Garden. I can not imagine how terrible it must have been to be stranded in that particular rat hole.
Anyway, we’re prepared: prepared for the snow, prepared for the round-the-clock coverage, and prepared for the stroll down the memory snow-bank of the Blizzard of 1978. (Boy, have those 35 years whizzed by…)
Photos courtesy of boston.com.