Forty years ago this month, a blizzard buried this part of the United States.
I’m ashamed to admit, I don’t remember anything about that storm. I’m a complete blank.
And I’m shocked at my ignorance.
I pride myself on my memory. I remember my first Christmas in Florida, I was maybe five years old. For Christmas I received one of those little plastic grocery carts filled with plastic eggs, milk cartons, bananas, lettuce and more. I literally remember sitting on the floor in our little house in St. Cloud, Florida, as aunts and uncles veered around me and commented about how cute I was.
OK, the cute part I don’t remember, but it surely makes sense.
I remember from age 5 to about age 10, my dad would cut my hair in the basement with clippers. It wasn’t fancy, but I looked like a young Sgt. Carter from the TV show “Gomer Pyle.” I remember those haircuts like they were yesterday. In fact, today my hairstyle is pretty much the same.
I remember one of my favorite meals cooked by mom was fried chicken coated in corn flakes.
And I remember green beans … thousands of green beans every summer. We had a garden next to our house on Summit Street. We grew maybe six or eight rows of green beans. Twice a year we’d pick those beans and clean them and snap off the ends and break them into halves or thirds. Then mom would can those beans, more than 100 quarter every … single … summer.
They were cheap and easy to process. But they were also too much.Today, I’d rather eat kale, or spinach, or radishes than green beans. Two quart of green beans every week for maybe 18 years? It should have been illegal. Still, I remember eating those green things over and over and over and over again. I remember growing to hate that never-ending supply. So, to this day, if someone mentions green beans or a green bean casserole with cream of mushroom soup, I want to hurl.
I don’t know why the Blizzard of ’78 is such a blank. But it is.
My only memory of what — by all accounts — was one of those “storms of the century” that only come around every 20 years or so, is of my mom, Nancy Kent. She was a nurse at Galion Community Hospital. A lot of nurses and doctors and other staff had a difficult time getting to the hospital to cover their shifts during the aftermath of the blizzard.
But one day, I heard what sounded like a motorcycle pull up to our front door. Mom put on her coat and hopped on the back of a snowmobile. The snowmobile driver took her to to the nearest cleared street where she hitched a ride on a city plow truck to the hospital. I think she came home three days later.
Unfortunately, dad was just as adept at opening those quart jars filled with green beans, as he was at cutting my hair. So we didn’t starve.
I remember the prelude to that 1978 “storm of the century.” It was warm, in the 50s and 60s, and it rained, until on day, all that rain turned to sleet and ice and snow.
Back in the day — I was 18 at the time — I was kind of a weather nerd, as I am today. So I remember local newscasters talking about a storm building in the Pacific southwest. It included lots of rain in California and Arizona and then that storm road was going to ride the jet stream north of Ohio.
The weather-guesses expected that rain to turn to snow. But very few forecast the drop in the barometer, the bottoming out of temperatures and all of that wind and snow.
Still, a few weather forecaster predicted that Ohio was going go get walloped. And they were right.
So this week, I’m keeping an eye on a storm building off the coast southern California. There is lots of rain on the way and already evacuations are being ordered because of expected flooding and landslides. But after that storm leaves the Pacific southwest, it is going to jump a similar jet stream and head up toward Chicago and north of Galion, Ohio.
I’m not predicting another “storm of the century,” but it has been two or three years since we’ve had one of those storms that come along every 100 years or so. But the weather patterns — at least in my less-than-pristine memory — are similar.
So, what are your memories of that storm?
I work most closely with Erin Miller, who was 2 years old at the time of Blizzard of ‘78, and Chad Clinger, who wasn’t even born. Erin — I believe — has more memories of that storm than I.
So, what are your memories.
Erin Miller is working on a story as the 40th anniversary of that storm approaches in a couple weeks. She’s looking for anecdotes and some photos if you have any.
Were you stuck at home with the kids? Did you lose electricity? How did you stay warm? Did you spend your time playing in the snow. I hear some of the drifts were 12-15 feet high and some kids spent hours sliding down snow drifts as tall as the first floor of their homes.
How did you survive?
Call Erin at 419-468-1117, ext. 2049 to share a memory. Better yet, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Share your story with her, and if you have some photos, scan them and attach them to your email.