Although the old “2-4-6-8” would go much better with a rhyming year such as ‘ 78, ’88, ’98, or’08, I won’t complain. I remember the Blizzard of ’78; my four boys were little (as you can see by the picture), and the two youngest agreed to venture out with me to memorialize the after effects of the Blizzard. Their little heads didn’t even reach the top of the snow piled on each side of the walk.
The Blizzard of ’78 brings back many memories. Our family owned a small grocery store in South Whitley. In fact, Dad and Mom bought the “G & G Market” – all 10,000 square feet of it – in January of 1948, and I was born one month later in February of 1948. I was born into the grocery business, perhaps not literally but certainly in spirit. We stayed open come whatever weather was tossed our way.
Until the G & G Market was sold in 1978, I never lived farther away than three blocks from our store. If we couldn’t get to the store by car, well, we could certainly walk. And, we had our home grocery deliveries to make, so it was out of the question to close. If we had an order, we delivered it and for free. It didn’t matter that the order might only be 4 or 5 items and totaled only a few dollars. Many of the older residents depended on our deliveries, and the few minutes we spent chatting with them sometimes was the only contact they might have for days.
The Blizzard of ’78 presented several problems for us. Our electricity went out in the store, so we had to drag out the old manual cash registers – the ones with hand cranks on the side, keypads where numbers were punched with force, and drawers that opened with wicked jabs. The store was bright with high ceilings and large glass windows along the front, so we had an adequate source of lighting for almost all transactions. The lack of electricity did not stop us from our daily business.
Of course, the other major obstacle was keeping the sidewalks clean and free of snow so our customers did not fall. We didn’t have the luxery of snowblowers or ergonomic snow shovels, so the work was good, old-fashioned, backbreaking shoveling every few minutes. Our door mats were soaked as though they had been dropped in a bathtub and then pulled out and slapped in front of the doors.
I find it hard to explain to someone from Florida or some other two-season locations who has never experienced northern winters, just what a blizzard means. It means watching the fine, powdery snow as it floats down and piles up outside my dining room windows; it means a gift of an extra day to tinker around my warm, cozy home; it means listening to constant weather updates on TV; it means that winter is still here, and it means an even greater appreciation for spring when it arrives.