When we put out a call for memories of the Blizzard of ‘78, we were hoping to get a fair number of replies. What we got was, well, a blizzard of responses.
Faith Harrington, one of our terrific office assistants, collected and organized them, which was no small task since there were dozens. As one of the editors on the 40th anniversary project, I read through them to get several ready for print and all of them for posting.
Thank goodness there’s infinite room in cyberspace, because I would have been hard-pressed to choose if I had to leave any of them out. There were some absolutely wonderful recollections, very evocative for those of us who were around to experience the Feb. 6/7 storm first-hand.
A couple of things struck me as I read the accounts. One was how vivid people’s memories remain four decades later. Clearly, the blizzard left an indelible impression. I know it did for me.
But beyond that was the recurring theme in so many of the storm sagas: that despite the trying conditions — mountainous drifts, impassable streets, lengthy power outages — people reached out to help each other. In so many ways.
They checked on their elders. They shared heat and food and water. They shoveled walkways and driveways. They dug out cars, buried under piles of snow.
Drivers with the foresight to put chains on their tires gave rides to stranded motorists. (Remember, these were the days before 4-wheel drive.) Snowmobilers patrolled the roadways, in search of those in need.
Strangers became friends, opening their homes and hearts.
One writer, Frank Farrell of New Bedford, remembered how a neighbor, “whom I had never spoken to in the 10 years we had lived on Union Street, took a break from shoveling and came across the street to strike up a conversation about the blizzard we had endured. He turned out to be a nice guy!”
Courtney Saunders Steele of Dartmouth told how her grandmother, heading back after undergoing radiation for a brain tumor at the Lahey Clinic, ended up snowbound for three days — along with 51 other humans and two dogs in the old HoJo’s in the Bridgewater service area.
“By far, her favorite part to tell is how amazing it was to look back on the strong sense of community inside there with all of those people,” Courtney wrote.
Then there was this thought-provoking reflection from New Bedford resident Kenneth Monteiro as he looked back on the Blizzard of 78 — with a nod to These Trying Times:
“It seemed like an endless storm and an extremely difficult time for all but it was also one of the greatest moments for humanity and brotherhood,” he said. “It demonstrated what was in our hearts and the resolve of the human spirit. It brought us together.
“Perhaps remembering will stir the soul and once more we shall become united as one.”