Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The Blizzard Of '78

Thirty years ago tonight - right about this time - my brother Jack, my sister Michelle and her (then) boyfriend Walter and I were in the middle of snow hell. I have to go back a few months to start this story.

I was living in an apartment in Providence and decided to move to Florida to live with my Uncle Pete. Sometime in early November I flew down to West Palm Beach. I didn't really like it there, so I returned home in late January, just in time for two incredible ice storms. Michelle and Walter had been staying at my apartment so I bunked in at the Castle with my father, my stepmother Linda, my brother Jack and my four younger siblings; Sandi and Stephanie, and on weekends Patrick and Michael, who were all 11 years old.

On February 6, it all started with a birthday gathering for Michelle at my mother's house. It was snowing but we didn't think too much of it. We got together for dinner and cake and ice cream. We got arguing about something which ended the get together early. At that time, my mother was living in a house right on the perimeter of the airport. Jack and I had ridden over in his Toyota Corolla, so when we attempted to leave, Jack backed out of the driveway and his car got stuck in the middle of the road! We tried to get it to move, but the snow was too deep, probably somewhere between 9 and 12 inches, and that car wasn't going anywhere. The real problem, however, was the wind coming off the huge expanse of the airport field. It was incredible. We couldn't face that direction, it hurt too much and you couldn't see anything with the snow blowing so hard. It could literally knock you over. We left Jack's car in the middle of the road and we decided to try Michelle's car - a VW Bug.

After clearing off her car, she backed it out of the driveway, around Jack's car, and I got into the back seat while Jack and Walter rode on the rear bumper. Unbelieveably, this worked very well. We headed down Palace Avenue and took a left onto Main Avenue. Keeping the car going, Michelle drove around snowbanks and stuck cars and we slowly made our way to the Castle, where Jack and I got out. Michelle and Walter continued on and, surprisingly, made it to my apartment off of Douglas Avenue in Providence. It amazes me still that they were able to get that far - I'm sure there were few cars on the road that night that traveled as far.

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