By Michael Ullery
January 26, 2014
This past weekend marked the anniversary of what has become known as The Blizzard of ‘78.
How “appropriate” that, on this anniversary weekend, we were, and still are, dealing with, what weather prognosticators are calling, the worst winter in the past 20 years.
Many of us are griping about dealing with our current weather. I am probably leading in that category, as anyone who knows me, is aware of how much I detest winter.
I was doing some thinking over the weekend, particularly while I was out clearing snow.
As I was on the end of a snow blower, clearing several inches of snow from our driveway, it struck me that, I at least have a mechanized method of moving snow. I recall 1978, when very few people had the “luxury” of a snow blower.
At the time, I was 21 years old. I was a Miami County Sheriff’s Deputy. I had been for all of about 20 days, having been sworn in on my 21st birthday, and as is the case with most 21-year-old men (boys), I was ready to take on the blizzard single-handed. I lived in Fletcher at the time and recall making a call down to dispatch, asking if a cruiser could come pick me up. The response was laughter, followed by, something to the effect of, “Are you kidding me?”
I was told to work with the Fletcher Fire Department and take care of the Fletcher and Brown Township area. Then, as now, Fletcher had a hard-working and dedicated fire department. I think that I learned more about team work and doing whatever is necessary to help others, during those few hectic days that I ever had in all my previous years. We worked as teams on snowmobiles, traveling around the area and picking up families whose homes had no heat.
While helping out as much as I could, I also had a wife and very young daughter at home … and no electricity. My father-in-law, Russell Clark, walked the five blocks to our house and helped carry our daughter, Carrie, down to their house, where, although they had no electricity, they did have heat.
Meanwhile, I was at home, with a borrowed generator, hooked up to our sump pumps, in an effort to keep our basement and furnace from flooding out.
In the days following the blizzard, we were out with snow shovels, clearing several feet of snow, yes, feet, from our sidewalks.
When I finally reached our car, I tried to get it to start - which it would not. I opened the hood to find the engine compartment literally packed with snow.
We’ve all heard the stories of snow as high as the rooftops. Memories of the Blizzard of ‘78 are still vivid.
It was a stressful time for all of us. But, I believe that living through the blizzard and having the opportunity to help others, made all of us stronger.
As I look at the weather conditions of today, I feel a little better, a little less stressed.
How bad can it be? I mean, like Gil Whitney’s certificates said, “I survived the Blizzard of ‘78”.