Where were you during the Blizzard of '78?

Share your stories.

Here’s mine: 33 years ago today somewhere about noon, I was a junior at Ball State University in Muncie, IN, parked in a classroom on meteorology (needed a couple more electives that year), waiting on the prof.

And waiting.

And waiting.

Finally, the youngsters in the class, knowing I was not a freshman (I was 22 at the time) turned to me, wanting to know how long to wait. Back in the day, it was 20 minutes for a prof and 10 for a grad ass. And the prof didn’t have one of those.

“We have a few more minutes, guys. Sit tight,” I told them.

Time ticked by. Mountains rose and fell. The oceans receded. The ice caps thawed and refroze.

Just as I was about to stand up and say adios, the door to the classroom blew open and in staggered our prof. His hair was standing up like David Tennant’s version of the Doctor (way less cute), his tie was at half-mast, and he looked like he’d been awake for days.

He finally focused on us (fuzzily) after a couple of seconds and said, “go home. If you’re a commuter and you live close, go home now. If you’re a student, don’t leave campus. There’s a blizzard coming and it’s coming right now.”

With that, he was gone.

I found out later he’d been up for more than 24 hours tracking the storm wherever the hell Ball State had meteorology equipment stashed.

So, off we went. I worked as a DJ at the local radio station on campus, so on my way back to my dorm, I headed there first. For those who attended Ball State in the 70s and remember the layout, my class had been clear on the other side of campus from where I lived in Studebaker, and the radio station was pretty much at the halfway point. By the time I reached the English Building where the station was in those days, it was already snowing.

Sure enough, the day staff were already aware of what was coming and most of them were clustered around the AP and UPI machines as they pounded out the latest weather reports on teletype paper (Ah, the days of rip-and-read died hard) and in the background I could hear the EBS (Emergency Broadcast Signal) nattering away on-air.

I told them it was snowing, hung around maybe a half-hour (I was not scheduled to work that day), wished them well, and decided to head for the dorm.

When I got back outside, the ground was covered, and by the time I got back to Studebaker there was enough to cover my shoes almost to the instep. Before or since, I’ve never seen snow come down so hard.

I actually went back out in that stuff around 6pm for a sorority do, and I can remember sitting in the suite, watching the snow blow sideways across the view outside the picture window. The winds were atrocious. Then I slogged back to the dorm four hours later and it was about to my knees.

At 11pm that night, there was a knock on my door: BEER RUN! 22, remember? :wink:

Somehow, four of us, a Volkswagon Beetle, and as much beer as we could stuff in the car, got there and back in one piece. If we hadn’t been loaded down with god knows how many cases it was, I’m not sure we **could **have gotten back.

The roads were all but unplowed, and between the snow and the wind, the visibility was down to practically the hood of the car.

That was that night. The university closed at dawn the next morning, the support staff (lunch ladies, etc.) spent two nights on campus, and we went traying the next night.

Good times… :smiley:

I was unborn. My parents, though, were holed up in their cozy three-bedroom ranch near Battleground, IN. They were snowed in for three days. They made lentil soup and whole wheat bread and played Bridge Over Troubled Water over and over and over again. There are pictures of my dad trying to shovel a path to the road, wearing a hunter-orange down parka and a handlebar moustache, the drifts on either side as tall as he is.

I wasn’t born yet. However, there is a family story.

My dad worked at Ford, a few miles away. My parents were desperately poor so he made the trek to work. They begged him to stay and cover for all the guys who couldn’t make it in for the next shift but he said “no way, I’ve got a 8-month-old at home, and that’s where I’m going”.

Mom was home alone with my then 8-month-old brother. Apparently my uncle stopped by on his way to work, hung out for a bit, and continued on to work.

The power went out. Our neighbor shoveled a path between the houses, and came to retrieve my mom and brother. They stayed at the neighbor’s house and warmed up by their fireplace.

Dad finally made it home. He made it partway up the drive and got stuck (oddly enough, also in a VW Beetle!!) He was a bit alarmed to find no one at home. He eventually joined mom and baby at the neighbor’s house.

This is one of the stories my family tells all the time. There’s also a very similar story about my grandpa and the blizzard of '50. I think this is maybe why my brother works from home - no getting stuck in the snow :slight_smile:

I was a year old. Mom still tells the story of how she held me up to the window to look at the snow piling up endlessly.

Older family members will still sometimes in the winter look at a threatening sky and say, “This is just like before the Blizzard of '78.”

I was about 13 miles away from Scubaqueen, snowed in in Chesterfield. I was a high school senior that year. We were out for two weeks and didn’t have to make up the days. I remember snow piles in the parking lots lasting until April that year.

I was 18, my senior year in high school. I was working nights at a locally owned drug store and was supposed to get off work at 9 PM. I didn’t have a car, my mother picked me up from work.

About 8 PM, the head pharmacist, my manager, came up from the back of the store and said he was colosing it down, he had called my mom and told her he woud bring me home so shs didn’t have to get out in it. The drive that took 10 minutes tops normally took him almost an hour. The visibility was near zero.

School was closed for almost TWO WEEKS.

I admit it… it was exciting, and I kinda wish we’d have another.

I lived in upstate New York, and was used to tons of snow all winter, but my grandma was in Buffalo getting cancer treatment and she and my grandpa were trapped in the hospital for a few days. They got a t-shirt saying “I survived the Blizzard of 78.”

I have a suspicion I was being conceived…I was born 9 months later, at any rate.

I was at home, watching my dad pile up snow on both sides of the driveway way past my height and completely burying the car parked on the curb left by a vacationing friend. I’m now twice that height, but it is still my standard for “that’s a lot of snow.” Unless the snow next to the driveways is taller than me, it’s below average.

I was a high school junior, living in Goshen, Indiana.

We were snowed in for 3 days. It was awful, but it was fun, too. My mom passed the time by baking anything she could think of and had ingredients for. When she ran out of milk, she sent me across the road to the dairy farm for for. It was an ordeal, because the snow had drifted to a depth of 6 feet in the road. There was another 4’ drift in our driveway I had to overcome. Just to make it worthwhile, I asked all of our neighbors if they needed any while I was out.

I took 3 one gallon glass jugs with me. I managed to find a way around the drift on the drive, but there was no way around the one in the road. I had to cross it where I was. I couldn’t walk over or through it, and I wasn’t going to dig my way through, either. I ended up tossing the jugs to the other side, laid down, and rolled over the top. A 300 yard round trip took me 45 minutes.

We would have been snowed in longer, except a transformer blew up a couple miles down the road from us, and the electric company had to plow their way to it past our drive to replace it.

ETA: My grandfather died of cancer the week before the blizzard hit. That was awful, too, but we were forever grateful it didn’t happen during the storm.

I was a sophomore in high school. As I remember, we went to school 2 days that January, out of the entire month. Most of my time was taken up sledding down the steepest hills we could find.

There was one hill in particular I remember. It was a road that had been closed because it was so steep, but some 4-wheel drives had gone up (or at least down) it, and made ruts. A buddy of mine and I took some clear plastic sheeting, like a painter’s dropcloth, and slid down the ruts. It was great sliding down the hill and around the curves.

Life of leisure, in those days.

I was 2 and living near Boston and remember nothing.

What I do remember is how much my parents and relatives talked about it over the years whenever winter came around.

I was in jr. high outside Chicago.
It was probably just another winter’s day for us. :wink:
That is, I don’t recall it in any detail if it wasn’t.

My mom, sister and I were stuck in the house for about a week. Don’t recall power or heat going out and my mom worked furiously to keep enough snow moved so the dogs could get out. We were out of school for two weeks, but one of them happened to be February vacation. They ended up canceling April vacation to make up for it. We got around 4 feet of snow at my house.

My dad, on the other hand, was stuck in Providence at work for a week. He hadn’t left, so he didn’t get stuck in the parking lot that the highways became. (also, being stuck in a mansion has its advantages). He wandered over to a co-worker’s place a few blocks away after a few days. Then after about a week, it was time to come home. However, Providence was still closed to traffic, so he walked up North Main Street to the Pawtucket city line (just past the old underground bowling alley/ Sears for those of you scoring along at home) where my mom picked him up.

Here are some of the pictures from the Providence Journal: http://www.projo.com/cgi-bin/include.pl/specials/blizzard/gallery.htm

We were living in western NY, halfway between Rochester and Buffalo.

We had 5 or 6 of the secretaries from my dad’s company stay with us, they lived far enough from town that he didn’t think it was safe enough for them to try and drive home. About 5 of the guys that worked at the company camped out in the offices. They got paid to walk around the place and make sure the generator kept going, and the boilers heating the place kept heating - a chemical factory with broken piping is not a good thing. I went down with hot food and coffee for them using my brothers snowmobile.

Power was out in town, we heated the house with our woodstove. When we had the addition to the living room put in, they modified the ductwork so that heat from the woodstove would get sucked in somehow and circulate around the rest of the house without power. We kept a huge pot of water going for tea coffee and cocoa, and a huge pot of my recipe of vegan minestrone going, and we had a few neighbors pop over with thermoses for hot drinks, and hanging out and getting warmed up and eating soup.

My brother and I slept in the living room on the floor in sleeping bags, and we had ladies sleeping in our rooms, in the spare room, on the couches … crowded but sort of fun. We played cards and board games and read a lot. We went through 2 gallons of lamp oil and 4 or 5 boxes of candles.

I was born basically during it (or at least the aftermath). February 14th. My father shoveled the driveway 5 times a day for days just to be ready. I don’t have any memory of it myself though :slight_smile:

I was 13 and in elementary school in a little Ohio River town. I had just changed bedrooms at our house, and was very pleased by my new digs, which had a great view out over the lawn as the snow piled higher, and higher, and higher. Don’t remember mobility really being an issue, and we had no emergencies, fortunately. We had nearly a week off from school, though, and spent a lot of time building snow forts and having snowball fights with the other neighborhood kids. Good times.

I was 14 and living outside of Boston. We XC skied to the store and played in the snow for days since there was no school. I don’t have many memories of the event since it really was a problem on the highways more than the suburban streets.

But there was a lot of snow.

I was 10 and we had just moved into a new house the previous week. My siblings and I had to wait weeks, mostly bored out of our minds, until we could start at our new school and make some friends.

I was ten months old, in the back of my mom’s car, probably listening to her plead with a cop to allow her down a recently closed street since she’d been trying to get home for three hours. The cop allowed her to with a strict warning to “go right home” and we finally got home.