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Saturday, February 9, 2013


Nemo, the Blizzard of 2013, has just roared through our neck of the woods.  It's still snowing, but it's tapering off, leaving about 2 feet of the white stuff on the ground.  I'm taking a break from shoveling our way out to write this.

This storm evokes memories of the infamous Blizzard of '78.  Those of us who are old enough remember where we were and what we were doing then, just as when Kennedy was shot, Armstrong stepped onto the moon, and Elvis died.

As bad as it is, this storm can't compare to the devastation and impact of the '78 blizzard.  Now, as then, the Governor has closed the roads to all traffic.  This time, everyone was prepared, but then, most people were caught by surprise.  I remember barely making it home to the bottom of our driveway before getting stuck.  I was one of the lucky ones.  Thousands of others were stranded along the roadways, stuck in their cars.  Route 128 was a disaster, with over 3,000 cars blocking travel.  After a day or so, the plows were able to carve a sinuous route through the stuck vehicles, but it took over a week to clear the roads.  And who can forget the nightly fireside chats from our then Governor Dukakis, who announced emergency bulletins from a TV studio wearing his trademarked sweater?

For me, the Blizzard of '78 is memorable for another reason.  At that time, my Aunt Helen lay dying of lung cancer in a Weymouth hospital.  I was determined to visit her, so a few days after the storm, while the roads were still closed, I set out from Reading to make my way through the obstacle course on Route 128 on my way to the hospital.  It was an unforgettable scene!  I was stopped by the police on the way, but when I explained the purpose of my mission, he relented and let me continue on my way.  Somehow I snaked my way through the immobilized vehicles and made it there.

My Aunt Helen was a delightful person.  Like her brother, my Dad, she had a ready smile, a good sense of humor, and a quick wit.  (I think I only inherited about half of their wit.)  I used to enjoy visiting her and my Uncle Ted at their cottage on Cape Cod.  She made the best stuffed quahogs.

She brightened when I entered her hospital room.  As I held her hand, she looked at me, her eyes dulled with pain, and said, "Nobody said it was supposed to be easy."  There was not much I could do, but I was glad I could be there to offer some measure of comfort.

That was the last time I saw her.  A few days later, Aunt Helen died.  I'm so glad I made the effort to see her that one last time.  Yes, the Blizzard of '78 was especially memorable for me.

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