Friday, January 21, 2011

This Story Has No Point, Nor Does It Have A Climax, And If You Look For Either You Will Be Severely Disappointed






It's 8:30am, Friday morning, here in Massachusetts, and the snow has been falling for four hours. We got 18 inches one day last week, and now another three or four has been added to it, with more expected. Quite a snowfall, but it doesn't compare to...

THE BLIZZARD OF '78!!!
"Sherman, set the wayback machine for Fogeyville."

"Fogeyville, Mr. Peabody?"

"Yes, Sherman. We're going to visit the site of an interminably long reminiscence that has no readily obvious reason for existing."

(Even the reference comes from Fogeyville. You probably have no idea who Sherman is, if you're under 30, nor should you. Mr. Peabody, though... It's not every day you see a talking dog who invented a time machine. And he wears glasses!)

Anyway, there was this blizzard, see? And it happened in 1978? So, like, we called it the Blizzard Of '78. It was awesome, dude! It was, like... like... uh...

It was a big snowstorm.

It was February and I was 20. I was also unemployed. Therefore, I used to go to bed at around 2 in the morning, after a healthy buzz and (sometimes) getting laid, and I'd wake up at 10am or so. That was important, the 10am thing. That was when The Beverly Hillbillies came on.

Being an out of work stoner, I was collecting unemployment benefits and enjoying the heck out of the whole experience. I think my last job at that time had been with Prudential Insurance, working in their office supply warehouse just outside of Brookline. I was probably getting $65 every two weeks in unemployment, but I was under no real pressure to get another job until the benefits ran out. My Dad, bless him, wasn't on my back for any rent, and I bought food and other stuff for the house. My remaining money went for bass guitar strings, trips to the dog track, and bowling.

(I should mention here that the trips to the dog track and the bowling were actually profitable ventures. There was a six or seven month stretch when I went to the track almost every day, with a couple of my friends, and we made considerable money. Also, I was technically a professional bowler, having entered and won a couple of small local tournaments. However, these are stories for another time, having nothing significant to do with the blizzard. I'll tell you all about them, someday, but for now it's just... Digression!)

(You should stick your index finger in the air and say that word as though you were Tevye in Fiddler On The Roof saying "Tradition!" It will be much more satisfying.)

Anyway, I woke up at a bit before 10 and ambled downstairs to grab a bite to eat. My Dad was already on the road. As a salesman for Singapore Airlines, he had calls to make. He had probably left the house around 7 o'clock. I grabbed a sleeve of saltines and a jar of peanut butter, stirred some Hershey's syrup into a tall glass of milk, and carried this stuff back into the living room. I switched on the TV, turned it to channel 38, and settled in to watch Granny whack Jethro over the head with a frying pan.

I ate the peanut butter and crackers while drinking the chocolate milk, all the time immensely enjoying Jethro's comic attempts at trying to make a success of a restaurant called The Hungry Gizzard. Then, I smoked a bone and laughed like a loon while enjoying Barney Fife's law enforcement misadventures. Returning from Mayberry, I plugged in my bass and threw some Grand Funk and Black Sabbath onto the stereo, playing along for an hour or so. After that, I felt like reading a bit. I picked up Twain's Life On The Mississippi, which I was in the middle of at the time, and traveled back to the 19th century for a while.

Understand that I did all of this without ever looking at the outside world or hearing about it in any way. All of the blinds were drawn. The telephone was connected to an answering service for my Dad's job, so I didn't answer it unless whoever was calling gave me a signal (everybody who knew us knew that the code was to ring once, hang up, then immediately call back, otherwise we would assume it was business and let it go through to the service, which would pick up after three rings.) Also, this was before cable and satellites, so unless I got up from the couch to physically change the channel, it was channel 38 all day and they had no news coverage, so...

At about 2 o'clock, I decided to check and see if the mailman had come. I opened the front door and there it was. Lots of snow. Shitloads of snow. Snow up to the middle of the storm door, which was up to the middle of my belly. Snow, which I stood gaping at blankly. So much snow that the street was totally covered with more than two feet and not a living soul was anywhere to be seen.

Far out, man.

I got dressed (I had been in nothing but a pair of jeans since I got up) and pulled on my boots. This was awesome. I went outside and plowed my way through snowdrifts up to my chest. I wanted to see if anyone else was around to enjoy this with.

I trudged through the snow towards River Street, which was the main drag two blocks away. My street wasn't plowed, which was no surprise. The city of Boston sometimes never plowed Caddy Road, it being a side street off of a side street off of a side street. I reached Monson - nope; not plowed. Sturbridge? The same. And as I approached River Street, I saw that it was only slightly navigable. It was a busy street and cars had probably been on it, off and on, since the snow started, but it was still a mess.

I was enjoying the bejeezus out of this winter wonderland. I spotted a couple of my bowling/racetrack/unemployed buddies and made my way towards them. We exchanged amazed words as Mike lit up a joint that we shared. It was obvious that there wouldn't be any racing for at least a few days, so that was a bummer, but we had enough dope to last a while, so no problem keeping a steady buzz while we waited for the streets to clear.

After a bit more conversation, I made my way back to the house. After shedding my boots and wet clothes, I turned on the radio to get some news and see what the prognosis was. The word was that there had been 28 inches of snow and the city of Boston was pretty much shut down. Many people were stranded wherever they worked and would be staying there overnight. A state of emergency was declared by the governor, and there was talk of bringing in the National Guard to patrol the streets and keep down looting, etc., and everybody was advised to stay off of the streets except for emergencies.

I put Ted Nugent on the stereo while wondering if my Dad would be stuck someplace. I doubted it. My Dad was one of the all-time great snow drivers. If anybody would NOT be stuck, it would be him. If he had a Volkswagen Beetle at the Arctic Circle and had to be in Anchorage the next day, I wouldn't have bet against him. Downtown Boston to Dorchester, in 28 inches of accumulation? The only way he wasn't going to be home was if the authorities physically wouldn't let him drive.

The house was well-stocked with food and drink. I had plenty of cigarettes. The electricity was on and there were plenty of sitcoms and cartoons to watch. I had no problem with this storm. Other people weren't as lucky. My neighbor, Stephen Murphy, was stranded at his job. He was a shoe salesman. What in the hell did he do to amuse himself in a shoe store for 48 hours? You can try on only so many pairs of stiletto heels before it gets boring.

(It was a woman's shoe store.)

I heard a motor gunning outside. My Dad plowed his way down the street, slowly, fishtailing wildly but determined to get his big boat of a Chrysler into our driveway. After much maneuvering, he got it into position to go straight onto the slight incline by the side of our house. He rocked the car back and forth for about 25 minutes, while I shoveled, and he damned well got the car into the driveway, where it stayed for the duration of the snow emergency. He was one of the few who could have gotten around the city if he needed to, but he wasn't averse to taking a few days off while his bosses were under the impression that he couldn't drive in these conditions. We both settled in for a slothful couple of days.

And that's about it. I told you there was no point to this. After a week or so, the snow melted and everybody went about their business as usual. Some folks weren't as lucky as me, as some 90+ people actually lost their lives due to the blizzard. The total of property damage was somewhere above a billion dollars, I believe. Beyond those grim statistics, though, the Blizzard Of '78 seems to have existed only so that, whenever there's a storm these days, someone old (like me) can say, "Hmmff. You call this snow? Why, I remember...", and then go into the song and dance above while everybody rolls their eyes and tries to think up an excuse for leaving.

And you? You sat through this whole thing voluntarily, even after I told you what was coming. You poor soul.

Soon, with more pointless old-fart rambling.

[If you had a sense of deja vu while reading this, I thank you. I first published it in 2006, and got three comments - which I treasured, too, as many of my posts in that ancient time got NONE. If you read it back then, I should probably buy you something for sticking around this long. Eh. Maybe when I publish it again in 2016. Come back then, and I'll see what I can do.]

66 comments:

KLo said...

Since I was two years old in '78, I have no memories of the big event itself (although I'm sure my parents do ;)).

However, I have to say, is it just me or has this been a particularly snowy week in our neck of the woods? (I live in southern NH)

I can't remember a week of such consistently crappy driving ...

Sausage Fingers said...

Who is Jethro?
Peanut butter on saltines with chocolate milk! yum dammit
also know as stoners haute cuisine.
Cheers, Sausage...

Lori said...

Oh yes I love me a good snow storm like this...like it much better then bitter cold..it's 27 below 0 right now and colder with the wind chill...I woud rather have lots of snow over this...although we have plenty here ourselves but we will always take more. I enjoyed this post...made me laugh as I read your description of yourself. Hope you and your have a good weekend of enjoying the snow. :)

Jayne said...

Point or not how can one not read it with a title like that?!
I got stranded at Fogarty Hospital (where I worked when I was in H.S.) and had to spend a night. Slept in the office of a friend's father (w/the friend, not the father), who was the hospital administrator. We worked in the cafeteria, so there was plenty of food, and much too amuse us in the hospital (like the morgue). Later the next day, the National Guard took me home in an enormous vehicle. It was quite an adventure.
So, yeah, Hmmff, this is snow?
Can't wait to strap my cross country skis on again!

Suldog said...

For those who want to learn more about Jethro...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Beverly_Hillbillies

haphazardlife said...

I always find it hysterical how in the States you get 20 inches of snow and it melts in a week.

We get 20 inches, and it stays on the ground for months.

That is really unfair.

- Jazz

Apryl said...

Being born in '79, I only heard horror stories of the Blizzard.

One of which I think may have been my conception, but I thankfully blocked it out.

Craig said...

Ah, yesss. . . The Blizzard of '78. . . I remember it well. . .

They say that the birthrate in Lansing increased by 30% in Oct/Nov of '78. . .

I was still living in the dorm then, and classes were cancelled for only the third time in the history of my university. The party store on the corner across from my dorm had a line that went from the register, back to the beer fridge, snaked up and down every aisle, and out the door; and they were enforcing a one-six-pack-per-customer limit. . .

When the full 20-odd inches had fallen, and most of the beer had been consumed, the real fun began. Some guys on the 4th floor of the dorm looked out their window at the 7-foot drifts below, and decided that it would be really cool to jump into 'em. So they did, with a muffled 'whump'. After a few of them survived this, there were guys lining up to belly-flop into the snow drifts from the 4th floor. And when they got tired, they started grabbing guys from the showers and tossing 'em, naked and soaked, into the drifts. Which lasted until one of the guys found the bike rack which was hiding under the drifts, resulting in multiple broken bones. Which really kinda put a downer on things. . .

Moannie said...

Just keep coming with the 'pointless' stories, Jim. But to me this wasn't pointless at all. I learned a reat deal about your lumucking twenty something years, remembered fondly the Beverly Hill billies [didn't they try to recreate that show? Seem to recall it wasn't very good.

Pointless stories, for me anyway, are all to do with sport.

i beati said...

no snow here old fart but cool Sebring, Fl.

France Rants said...

My ADHD only allowed me to see the word CLIMAX in your title.

Imagine my disappointment when after reading your entire tale (waiting for the CLIMAX part to pop up) I realized your rambling was about SNOW!!!

Hmmmp.

I think you know by now I don't like snow. And I hope you shoveled all of the drive for your Dad.

Uncle Skip, said...

No snow here, either.
Can't say I ever watched BH, but remember Rocky & Bullwinkle, Fractured Fairy Tales, Dudley Do-right, et al from their original run. They were funny even without weed.

Daryl said...

I remember that storm for two reasons .. it effectively killed John Lindsay's political career and it ruined my birthday party ...

Chris@Knucklehead! said...

1978 was a good year for baseball, too, if I remember correctly.

Anyway, love the snow stories. Growing up in Jersey, we had many a winter like that. Pegging cars with snowballs, shoveling driveways for ten bucks a pop.

Didn't have a horse track though, at least not near enough to get into any real trouble.

Suldog said...

Craig:

It's funny, but I had never before thought about that blizzard being anything more than Boston-centric. Somehow, I've always sort of imagined it as forming near Springfield, in Western MA, and then rushing toward the coast, dumping its contents on us, and then being nothing again.

Duh. It had to come from somewhere...

The beer stories remind me of something I didn't mention. The National Guard was called in to patrol, and it was so odd seeing guys in uniform, with weapons slung over their shoulders, walking the streets of our neighborhoods. My buddies and I made it a nicer patrol for one or two, sharing our weed with them if they looked as though they were somewhat hip :-)

Quirkyloon said...

Heh heh.

But do you REALLY think we believe you were watching The Beverly Hillbillies for Jethro's antics?

Yeah right.

Ellie May.

Need I say more?

Super Mo said...

MR. PEABODY!!! AND SHERMAN!!!
Ummm... yeah- can't say I read anything too far down into your blog!!! That was my FB profile pic for awhile!!!

yeah, so anyway. snow upon snow. Just watching it fall and fill up my sidewalk right now- Somerville. Dangit!

Pat - Arkansas said...

Quite a tale, Suldog! Thanks for the re-run.

Linda said...

I enjoyed this, since not only am I old enough to remember the Blizzard of '78, but also have fond memories of Sherman and Mr. Peabody.

Having been married the year before, this snowstorm was the first one that I had to actually worry about shoveling our drive, rather than my father or a landlord taking care of that. Luckily, being 8 months pregnant all I had to do was worry and watch my husband do the work.

Living in the boonies we had no excitement such as National Guard patrols or even watching traffic try to go by.

Small City Scenes said...

Exit---stage left. MB

Craig said...

OK, I went and googled "Blizzard of '78", and it seems that the one here in the Midwest, and the one you describe are two separate events. Ours was Jan 25-27, yours was Feb 6-7. Crazy, huh?

Michelle H. said...

I read this before, so I'll be waiting for that gift in 2016. Get me the red pumps ;)

Great rerun, of course. We have snow here, as you are now experiencing. Keep warm!

IT (aka Ivan Toblog) said...

'78? Oh, yeah... I remember. We didn't have cable where I lived and Satellite dishes were the size of... well, they were pretty damn big. I won't bore you with the details of how bad the reception was for the stations we did get.
I don't see where your story has no point... no climax, I'll agree. But at my age, I'll reserve climaxes for special occasions.

Oh, hey and BTW, those National Guard troops you slipped the weed to... they probably had their own. It was 1978 after all.

Red Hamster said...

Ah, the good old days of simple minded tv fare like the Beverly Hillbillies, and Mr. Peabody & Sherman for the scholarly viewer.

Having spent all my life in the Midwest, I ceased to enjoy a good snowfall when I became old enough to have to shovel it and drive in it. Thanks for the brief rambling escape to a moment in time when a blizzard was thoroughly enjoyed. (albeit while the rest of the city collapsed)

Craig said...

And, uh, speaking of climaxes, the birth rate for our town was 30% higher than normal in October '78. . .

Olavo Marques said...

GOOD BLOG:

Follow my blog:

http://questoesdefutebol.blogspot.com/

Annah said...

Great story. Written super well...

I don't think I've ever seen snow falling. Like, ever. Hmmmm...

Get rid of your damn captchas! lol. I can talk to you like that already because we're blovers = Blog lovers. LMAO

Karen said...

And I'm complaining because we're supposed to get 3" of snow tonight. I really really really don't like the snow.

Buck said...

Heh. There are Ol' Farts and then there are OLD Farts. We need to stick together, coz few outside our circles appreciate just how GOOD it was back then. I think my Dad useta say that, too, but he really WAS a boring old fart (no caps). We are different, of course.

I remember all that you mentioned here, save for the blizzard, which is a function of where I was at the time. But I DID drive from South Bend to the NoDak/Montana/Sask border in a blizzard just before Christmas of '77. Only one lane of westbound I-94 was open between Minneapolis and Jamestown, NoDak... and the two lane roads from Jamestown to my final destination were sporty, indeed. I'll not forget THAT experience.

And I most certainly DID do my best Tevye when you did the "Di-GRESSS-ion" thing.

Carolina said...

'Far out man!' hehehe

Our local newspaper did a piece about the 'freak' weather that's currently going on all around the world and there was a photo of Boston in it. You're world famous!

Enjoy all that snow ;-)

Travis Erwin said...

I'll be back in 2016 and by then I expect a climax damn it.

Eddie Bluelights said...

We in Britland have our fair share of blizzards. 1947 (of course I was much too young to remember that one), 1963 and yes December 2009. Brrr! it was cold!!

Hilary said...

Ahh this brings back memories of enormous snowfalls in Montreal.. days off school. I probably spent some of those watching Mr. Peabody and his boy Sherman. A nice, nostalgic feel t this "pointless" piece.

messymimi said...

Of course i stayed for the whole thing. You brought back the days of 3 local channels plus PBS and one independent station, and you had to get up to manually tune the thing. Remember the vertical and horizontal hold buttons that you had to jiggle just so?

The point is the remembering.

Joan said...

I could just see my Dad doing the same thing. We lived in MN, so we had a few times like this. :)

Judi FitzPatrick said...

During that blizzard I lived in Scituate - the snow didn't last because the ocean, which came up to my knees on the street outside our place, took it all away. Had no electricity for several days, but at least we were all safe and healthy, unlike some neighbors up the road.
Thanks for the reminder that the shoveling could be much worse if all of it came down at the same time!
Peace, Judi

Saz said...

l luv your pointless stories Jim, which of course they aint...

just keep at it...please

luv saz x

kickoz said...

Wow! Blogs of Note! congratulations ... It's my dream ...

Maytangkua said...

yes, let's publish again (before 2016) !

slommler said...

Mr. Peabody!!!! OMG!! Talk about blast from the past!!
And you are doing better this time...you have...at last count...39 comments!! Very cool!!
Loved the story too!
I remember this blizzard! I was in the Cleveland area...we were hammered!!
Hugs
SueAnn
PS My power went out for three days!!
Yuck!!

Bushman said...

No not pointless. Pointless would be non entertaining. Stories are great even if they are true. I remember back in the 80's we had an ice storm here in Michigan and the whole family- cousins, aunts,uncles all piled into my Aunts house and we lived there for three days waiting for power and clear roads. Some of my best memories were in those three days.

jarheadxbox said...

I was born in 82......

Clare Dunn said...

Ah, I missed the "Blizzard of '78", because, thankfully (?), we were Rhody natives living in TX at the time.

But Mom sent us a photo from the Providence Journal that I will never forget... it was an aerial shot of Rte 95 at the MA/RI border. The Highway had been cleared - in Mass - but not in RI. You could see where the Massachusetts snowplows just made a U-turn at the State Line.

Hilarious!

xoxoxo, cd

Jeni said...

I don't recall any massive snowstorms here in the winter of '78, but I sure do remember the winter of '77 and a big snowfall we got along with some really, really low temps that followed it. (A lot like we have right now only then, we got a lot more snow than we did Thursday night.) Why do I recall the '77 stuff? Mainly because my car froze up for three days and even more than that, the water line that supplies our village froze and broke -under an overpass on Interstate 80 -and we were without running water for 10 days! Imagine that! And, because of the water situation, I made my television debut then when I was interviewed for a news broadcast about our village's situation! Yeah, didn't know I was a tv celebrity, did ya?

eglive said...

nice

Emilie said...

Congratulations on keeping up such a fantastic blog for so many years, it looks like it has really paid off and now you have a well-deserved and hefty following. Bravo, and all the best. Emilie

Maggie May said...

I really, really enjoyed this rambling tale ..... even if you feel it had no point.
It did, because it is Winter and everyone has had snow to some degree, though not as bad as the one yo describe
Maggie X

Nuts in May

blondie300680 said...

Quite a tale!!

KARNOSKI said...

Follow my new blog, and I will follow yours (:
I'm searching new friends (:
http://nocrisnoparty.blogspot.com/

rc said...

Did I ever tell you about the weekend in Oswego, New York when we got 6 feet of snow in one weekend? I lived above a bar named Lill's Tavern and Lill (who was about 70) lived next door and opened the place up all 3 days.

~jill said...

i thought blizzards were those great tasting treats from Dairy Queen.....so confused.....

Sandra said...

Oh, I remember that storm vividly! It hit here on Tuesday night/early Wednesday morning -- that's signifiant because I always did the weekly grocery shopping after work on Wednesday. We were, as usual, low on staples like bread and milk. No school for the 11 and 9 year olds and no work for me. We lived on a short street off of a country road, in walking distance to NOTHING. Hubby was the lieutenant on the third trick road patrol and I had no idea when he would be able to make it home. Finally, mid-afternoon someone brought him home on a snow mobile. We were then snowed in for the next three days (after I made his last bottle of beer into "beer bread" that was even very good, he really wished he had thought to bring a few groceries home with him!). By the 3rd day I made the kids go outside for a while "to play" in the driveway where Hubby had dome some shoveling, because they were DRIVING ME CRAZY. In fact I think I made him go with them. :) Oh yeah, I REMEMBER the blizzard of '78, and that experience made a huge difference in the amount of food I ALWAYS have kept in the cupboards "just in case" ever since. :)

Olavo Marques said...

Follow my blog:

http://questoesdefutebol.blogspot.com/

Uncle Jim said...

I do remember John was stuck at SP Hqtrs and I was alone with the cats. No electric al all. BUT we did have a fireplace and wood. So blocking off the doors and keeping the cats and myself warm and toasty was the plan.... and it worked! We had gas so cooking was no problem. Actually we enjoyed it. PS John came home two days later carrying a gallon of milk with people begging him for it and offering as much as $10.00. Being the good person he was... he did not give them any and brought it home for us.

Babs said...

oh I remember the b of 78.....
we were stuck inside with the older upstairs neighbor lady, we ran out of cigarettes and all the stores were closed and you couldn't be out on the streets. I took to my closet with my bong, that's where my husband found me while he was entertaining the lady huddled around our gas stove in the kitchen...I could go on...aahh the memories of the blizzard of 78...so many Seinfeld nothing moments....

Jenn Flynn-Shon said...

Much like this day and age, as opposed to '78, your comments have gone up but seem to be that much more manageable now that we all know how to handle them.

You might just get a '78 revival from all I'm hearing about what's coming Wednesday. I won't know because I'll already be in the loony bin by then so be sure to update us so I can spend some time rocking back & forth while cackling hysterically would you?

Jacqueson said...

Quiet you. Kidding. But it sounded like an amazing time to be twenty. Would that I could go back.

Boredom Blog said...

I'm from Melbourne and born in '84, so I don't remember the snow (obviously), but I do remember Mr. Peabody and Sherman!

Three Hundred Sixty Five said...

I never lived anywhere that has snow like that.....but about 5 years ago we had 24" in Albuquerque...sadly on a Friday night through Saturday, so I didn't get any damn time off from work & I wasn't in college then. It effectively shut us down, since we don't have THAT many snow plows (as you can imagine).
I enjoyed your story very much....
Not an old fart yet, but getting there!

Duncan D. Horne said...

Not sure how you got blog of note, but well done!

www.duncaninkuantan.blogspot.com

Suldog said...

Duncan - Not sure? Don't you know? You have to have sex with the judges. Go thou, and do likewise.

Barbara Shallue said...

Whoa, I was 19 in '78, but obviously not in tune with the world because I don't remember this - or maybe being in Texas (and 19) I really didn't care! But it sounds like lots of fun! Maybe I was jealous? Love this story - but you had me with Beverly Hillbillies and Ted Nugent.

Eddie Bluelights said...

Just seen your comment to Duncan. Roared!!! Is that how ya did it? LOL

Joanna Jenkins said...

Stopping by from Hilary's to say congrats on your POTW-- This story made me smile.

I was in Ohio for the "Blizzard of 1978". I was 19 years old and it truly was one of the reasons I now live in Southern California. Gawd, it was a lot of snow.

Loved how your told your story.

Cheers, jj

Barbara said...

I'm late getting to the POTW list - congratulations! Well-deserved! I'm off to try to read some of the others...

Ruth and Glen said...

Oh, I remember that Blizzard too Jim. I was 16 and living in NYC. School was closed for days! :o)

~Ruth~