MassMoments Remembers the Blizzard of ’78 and So Do I…
On this day – February 7, 1978 – we awoke to many inches that later became feet of snow that had accumulated overnight. The snow continued falling throughout the day. Roads and highways were clogged with stranded cars and trucks locked-in by the snow and other vehicles. Governor Dukakis banned any but emergency travel. For days the Commonwealth was in turmoil from battered shoreline to gridlocked interstates with loss of life and loss of property. But for some it was a quiet, winter wonderland. Here’s the story of the Blizzard of ’78 as remembered by MassMoments:
…in 1978, the storm of the century paralyzed the entire state of Massachusetts. The Blizzard of ’78 dropped between two and four feet of snow on the Bay State in the space of 32 hours. Ferocious winds created drifts as high as 15 feet. Along the coast, flood tides forced 10,000 people into emergency shelters. Inland, over 3,000 cars and 500 trucks were immobilized along an eight-mile stretch of Route 128. By the time it subsided, the storm had taken 29 Massachusetts lives, destroyed 11,000 homes, and caused more than one billion dollars in damage. The Blizzard of ’78 is also remembered for many acts of kindness, cooperation, and courage.
I remember the Blizzard of ’78 as a challenge to dig out and feel reconnected to the world around us. The snow reached the house window sills. The boys – Billy and Teddy – were 7 and 9 and they join in the shoveling although they really enjoyed more the flopping atop hugh snow mounds. A kind neighbor – the late Charlie Gerrard – with his snow blower worked from the end of the driveway and miraculously the driveway and the cars were clear. The thought of my Mother’s homemade fish chowder lured us into Lowell – we walked down the middle of Andover Street from the Baptist church atop the hill to Burnham Road. No cars, no sounds – just the beauty of nature and a bit of huffing and puffing along the way. The boys ended up staying with Nana and Papa through the weekend watching the city’s front end loader pile the snow into mountains at the end of their driveway. They later climbed up and slid down as only little boys can do! My brother Bill – defying the Dukakis ban – ran us back up the hill to North Tewksbury in Ag’s mustang. Bill was finally able to get to the hospital and the office. We never lost our power – which was a blessing as I learned in later years when the power did fail. One lasting effect of the blizzard was our decison to give up our breezeway and add another stall to the garage – a decision we’ve never regretted. For me 1978 was a memorable year but not just for the blizzard. That summer brought a congresssional campaign that I joined and my life was then set on a different course.
Some personal photos from the Blizzard of ’78. The first two are of our driveway and home on Fiske Street the second of Burnham Road in Lowell.