The World According to Bob

February 6, 2008

Where were you in 78?

Filed under: Daily Journal,Personal history — rjplumer @ 4:40 pm

Where were you in the blizzard of 78? It was one of those events that you tend to remember where you were or what you were doing at the time. For those that are either too young or were not living here at the time that was the time the infamous Blizzard of ’78 hit New England.

Where was I? I was eleven years old living in Marshfield, Massachusetts. It’s a town on the coast southeast of Boston. My mother and two younger siblings were living with our grandparents at the time. We lived fairly close to the ocean. It was about two miles or so by car, bike or foot to the beach. We lived in a big old farm house. It faced away from the ocean and a small hill in back blocked the ocean view. Though all one had to do was walk up a small dirt road beside our grand parents land and go up a small hill to see the ocean off in the distance.

I don’t remember everything because to an eleven year old boy this was just another day with some snow added. I do remember starting the day off in school as normal. The snow started that Monday morning when we were in school. I knew something was different when the dismissed us early that day. They had never done that before(at least I don’t remember). Of course being a kid any time off from school was welcome. I don’t remember exactly what we did when we got home that day but little did we know that we’d pretty much be house bound for the next week. The snow was wet and heavy type and was being blown about with very high winds. The snow fell so fast then when you were trying to shoveling it away you’d look back on what you had done and it was covered again by 2-3 inches of snow. We hunkered down for the evening and we were watching I believe “The Sha-na-na show” (remember them?) at about 7:45pm the power went out. I’m not sure why I remember that but I do. We lit our candles and oil lamps for light. When we went to bed that night we could here the storm outside howling furiously. When we woke the next day the wind and snow had tapered off a little but was still coming down. Outside was a winter wonderland covered in I’m guessing at about 18 to 24 inches of snow. With a a lot of snow drifts it was hard to gauge exactly how much.

Well for the next week or so all the news began filtering in through first the newspaper and then television of the devastation and havoc the storm had caused around us. In the neighboring town of Scituate got slammed by the storm with coastal homes sometimes taking them right out to sea. I remember touring the area a few weeks later and seeing homes on top of one another or totally wiped down to the foundation. One particular one was kind of humorous in that the whole home was gone except for a lone toilet standing on the foundation. Wish I had a picture of that one.

Have we learned from this? Judging by the storm that hit the area on December 13, 2007 we haven’t. The area was hit by a fast moving storm that clogged highways and streets faster than they could be cleared. Many motorists were stranded and stuck when they were let out from work early. In my local area of Providence some school kids were stuck on buses until eleven o’clock that night. A fact that I still find appalling. Some high officials have lost jobs over this one and is still a hot subject locally. In my opinion no one took the initiative to take control of the situation. Very poor leadership and communication if you ask me. I think people have grown complacent and will be taken by surprise the next time a big one hits.

What prompted me to write this was this article by Michael Tougias called What lesson from the Blizzard of 78? I also have one of his books on this called appropriately “The Blizzard of ’78” which is an enjoyable read if you’d like to find out more about it. So where were you in ’78?


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