It has been 35 years since the Blizzard of ’78. It was the biggest snowstorm in the history of the world according to anybody that knows anything about the weather. Meteorologists is what I believe they are called. Those practitioners of the ancient and bloody art of meteorology.
“Oh my sweet Satan, Master of cumulus clouds and all that is precipitous, bestow upon me the power of future sight as it relates to weather events.” That’s their secret blood oath.
On February 6th, 1978 this historic storm hit New England. I was a precocious seven-year old boy with a lust for life and an insatiable hunger for knowledge and Kraft Macaroni & Cheese. I was surprised by the blizzard because I didn’t even realize it was supposed to snow. Back in 1978 people didn’t tell a seven-year old shit. You either saw Dick Albert talk about it on the six o’clock news or the eleven o’clock news. That’s it.
Today, seven-year old children can just check out the weather.com app on their iPhone 5′s. Or just have one of their buddies tweet them the deets.
But there was no deet tweeting back in the ’70′s to gain knowledge. There was only going out in the streets and asking complete strangers if they knew the answers to your questions and also if they could give you a ride back home in their cool van. Sure, you’d be happy to help them look for their lost puppy on the way. You love puppies and would hate to think of something bad happening to the little guy. Stopping for ice cream afterwards doesn’t sound like a bad idea, either. You just spent all that time helping look for this poor lost dog, you deserve a treat. And that’s how you end up on the back of a milk carton.
My father worked for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. Also known as the MBTA. Or “The fuckin’ T” to the locals. He worked on the trains. Not mechanically. He actually worked on the train, as it was moving. He would come out with a bunch of other dudes and distribute hot chocolate in a choreographed, sing-song fashion to the pajama-clad children during the death-defying trip to the North Pole on Christmas Eve. Sorry, I’m thinking of Tom Hanks in The Polar Express. It’s probably because I wish Tom Hanks was my dad. I would have made an awesome Forrest Gump Jr. Also, I never would have rested until I found him on that deserted island in Castaway, unlike that bitch Helen Hunt.
When the Blizzard hit, everything shut down for like a week. Stores were closed. Roads were impassable. Public transportation stopped. My father spent the week stuck at the Quincy Center train station. I remember hearing my mother talking on the phone to someone, and she said, “Bill and I are separated”. I quickly deduced that she wasn’t talking about me because I was Billy, not Bill. Also, we were in the same room, so the separation thing didn’t seem to fit into the equation. I started crying, because I thought she meant that they were getting a divorce. She looked at me, the way only a mother can, and said,”Sweetheart, don’t be a fuckin’ idiot. I’m talking about your father not being able to get home because of the snow. Now go make Mama a highball.” I laughed because I was relieved. I knew a couple of kids in school whose parents had gotten divorced. I didn’t want that to happen to me. It was probably my biggest fear. But I got lucky. They stayed happily married until she died of cancer 4 years later. Phew!
That storm was the benchmark to which I have compared all other winter related storms since. I think that’s only natural. It was pretty epic.
So on to the Blizzard of 2013, or Nemo as I refuse to call it. We got hit pretty hard. But we lucked out. We never lost power, when a lot of people did. Our lights flickered three times around 6pm Friday. Once that happened, I got that “It’s only a matter of time” feeling. Might as well just go to bed. But it stayed on. We did have a big limb fall off the enormous pine tree in the front yard that blocked the driveway. After we saw that, I was pretty worried about the rest of the tree falling. This trees got to be at least fifty feet tall. I tried convincing my wife that we should sleep in the basement. But she insisted that if a tree was going to fall through the roof, she wanted to see it happen in person, up close. So I was up most of the night, waiting for the tree to come through the roof so I could wake my wife up and show her. I finally fell asleep around four or five in the morning. When I woke up later, the power was still on. I couldn’t believe it. We had a lot of friends who lost power and some of them came to stay with us Saturday night. It was like a big slumber party. Except no one wanted to play Truth or Dare with me. Or Seven Minutes In Heaven. Otherwise it was like a big slumber party. I think.
We really lucked out. It’s now Monday and there’s still over 100,000 people in the state without power, and it’s cold. With more snow on the way. Some parts of the state aren’t expected to have power until the end of the week. That fucking sucks.
So if I have to compare the two storms, which I don’t, the Blizzard of ’78 was a much bigger event. But the Blizzard of ’13 was much scarier.
Because this time I’m not a dumb, beautiful seven-year-old boy anymore. Also, I own the house