June 29, 2016

Intermittent clouds

Readers recall

Here are the many stories shared by Gazette readers — some dramatic, some funny — about surviving the Blizzard of ’78. Read them all and add your own under Comments.

Mail couldn’t get through
During the Blizzard of ’78, I was only 10 years old at the time. We lived out on Chippewa Road in Medina County and had big tall trees in the front yard. I remember not only the snow during the Blizzard of ’78, but the ice that came with it. We had more broken tree limbs in our front yard than you can shake a stick at. (No pun intended!) The one thing that seems to stick in my mind is that my mom worked for the Medina post office at the time delivering mail as a rural mail carrier. This is probably the only time that I can remember that the mail did not go through because of inclement weather. Everything was at a standstill, including mail delivery! I think that when mail delivery eventually resumed, my brother was driving her around as she stuffed mailboxes as she was terrified to drive herself in this blizzard. Funny though, as I look back on it now, I can’t seem to recall how long I was out of school for. Probably because I was too busy shoveling snow!
Laura A. Schmid

Blizzard picnic
As this blizzard closed not only the schools, but also both my husband’s (Jim) and my place of employment as well, I decided to celebrate. I did so by cooking a pot of chili and making hot chocolate. I then proceeded to drive (I had good tires) to Hinckley Reservation and we had a family picnic. We swept over a foot of snow from the tables (Johnson’s picnic area) and celebrated. As it was a blizzard, we were the only ones in the park. To this day, it provides a chuckle to others who don’t believe that picnics and hiking should be 12 months of the year, but we enjoyed it. (We did and do other winter picnics, but this was the only time we went during a blizzard.)
Ann C. McGill

‘Disco Inferno’
The Blizzard of ’78 struck when I was a junior at the College of Wooster, just 25 miles south of Medina. Lowry Center’s winding front staircase was closed for fear the wind would blow its large windows in. I was eating dinner with several hundred students in the same building’s dining hall when the announcement came that the next day’s classes would be canceled due to the storm — the only time this happened in my four years there and one of the few times in the school’s then-112-year history. Oh, I can still hear the delirious ovation that arose. That evening, a spontaneous dance materialized in the cavernous attic of my co-ed residence hall. The weather outside was indeed frightful, but inside we were burning up in a “Disco Inferno.” “Burn, baby, burn …” (Yes, this was the ’70s.) Looking back, it was a not-too-shabby way to ride out the storm.
Dan Hunter

Frozen car
We had a small two-person office on state Route 303 in Brunswick. The weather report the night before predicted a very bad snowstorm. For some unknown reason, I opted to park across the street from the office, rather than in my usual place. About 10 o’clock in the morning, the weather started to turn ugly and we decided to close the office for the day. Our parking lot was already iced over and the receptionist was concerned about her car getting out of the lot. She started to drive out and her car got stuck in the apron and wouldn’t move forward or backward. We decided to try my car, parked on the other side of the street. The car started properly and we took off, slowly, toward my home. When we got there, she was told that she was welcome to stay with us, but chose to try to make it home — so she took my car. Since she lived in Strongsville, she took a route north on Carpenter Road. About an hour later, she phoned that my car was stuck on North Carpenter Road, north of Grafton Road, It seemed that there was a backup of cars and the engine quit. My dad and I took another car and a duplicate set of keys and started out to retrieve the car. In no time, we located the car — but it was frozen solid. It wouldn’t start and wouldn’t move and the storm was getting uglier. Since there were other abandoned cars there, we decided to return home. About a half mile later, the car stopped suddenly and I couldn’t restart it. After about 15 minutes, a huge TEREX truck came along and gave me a battery jump. I was able to start again, but about a half mile later, I skidded into a snow bank. We couldn’t push the car forward, nor push it back. Although we had a shovel in the car, we couldn’t make enough headway with the snow pile to back up. We were cold and the storm was getting worse. Fortunately, that same TEREX truck came along, saw our predicament, and decided to help us. In order to avoid damaging my car, he piled snow in front of my car and pushed me out. I get back onto Route 303, where the roadway was better. We stopped at a friend’s house and asked him to call my home to tell them that we were OK and would be a little later getting home.
Al Wolff

Evacuated by helicopter
My daughter-in-law to be, and her family, lived in rural Ashland County. They had no electricity for most of a week, and finally had to be evacuated, one by one, by helicopter. Her sister, who lived in Sullivan, went into labor, and traveled by snowmobile to the nearest hospital, who said “they don’t deliver babies,” but they did.
Beth Grim

Deputy delivered groceries
I remember the day it hit as if it was yesterday. We all knew that it was coming but, to tell the truth, I had no idea how bad it was going to be. I was living on Erhart Road at the time right where Stone Road runs into it. It was about 5:30 a.m. when I was awakened by the “howling” trees next door. I got out of bed and at around 6 I was standing in the living room looking out the picture window facing west. I was greeted by a wall of white marching through the field across Erhart Road and heading directly toward my house. The wind hit the front of the house with such force that the entire house shivered and the chimney to the wood burner was blown off. As I listened to the insulated pipe banging across the roof I saw the sign by my driveway waving like a leaf on a tree. Fearing that it would blow off the cross arm and come through the front window 75 feet away, I put on my coat and went out in the storm to remove the sign. When I reached the sign I saw that the post was twisted to the point of splintering at the base. I was trying to twist the post off when the wind caught the 3-by-3 sign, swung it over the cross arm striking me in the chest, and lifting me off my feet, depositing me about four feet away. As I got up I was greeted by my neighbor who had seen the whole thing and expected to find me at least injured. The blow lasted almost three days and at the end of that time, there was a 5-foot drift across Erhart Road in front of my house and the entire road was impassable. As I had two small children and we were out of bread and milk as well as everything else, I called the Medina County Sheriff’s Office. They sent out a few groceries with a deputy. I can still see that cruiser coming up the road behind a large road grader bringing the babies milk and food. They plowed the road to my drive, struggled to my door with two bags of groceries and went back down the road in the direction from which they came. The road wasn’t opened to traffic for another two days. The thing I remember best is how we all cooperated to help each other. I had heat so neighbors without any came to warm themselves. The neighbor next door had water in a cistern and hauled it in buckets to those without. Hard times, good neighbors and a great sheriff’s department! Thanks again, deputy!
Don Flegal

Stuck on a bridge
In 1978 I was working at a chemical company on Harvard Avenue on weekdays and on weekends I was playing a band job Friday and Saturday nights at the Pioneer Lounge near Lewisburg. We spent the night at our former home in West Carrolton and on Sunday we finished our laundry and headed back to Brunswick in the afternoon. We headed east on Interstate 70 and it was snowing lightly but I figured there was more chance for finding an open gas station in Columbus than out on the interstates so we filled up on gas in Columbus and my wife took over the driving, headed north on Interstate 71 while I slept in the back of our van. After a half hour of driving, my wife suggested I take the wheel as the snow was getting heavy on the road. As we encountered each of the hills heading north we would have to stop until each of the vehicles ahead got over the hill and so it went; drive to the next hill and wait, etc. By the time we got to state Route 18 I thought it might be better driving west on Route 18 and north on U.S. Route 42. That was worse than the conditions on I-71, so we back-tracked to 71 and continued north toward the Brunswick exit 226. As we slowly approached the exit, it was buried under a smooth layer of snow, which filled the low areas which would define the exit ramp. At that time there were no reflective posts to define the edge of the roadway, but seeing snowmobiles coming south on the Route 303 exit ramp I decided to go to Strongsville, cross over and come back to Brunswick. That plan ended with my empty weightless van getting stuck on the northbound I-71 bridge. A large sedan went around me on the right and got stuck, virtually shutting down northbound I-71 at 303. We walked through waist-deep snow in the valleys between the lanes and ramps then down the southbound entrance ramp to I-71 south. We were renting at Pinewood Apartments on South Carpenter so we were nearly home when we started trudging through the snow on foot which was most fortunate for all of us. The snowplows surrounded our van with snow and it needed to be towed out two days after getting stuck. That’s my Blizzard of ’78 experience.

A wonderful year
At that time I was living in Lorain County. I was dating a gentlemen living in Medina County for almost four years. He had been commuting back and forth during the whole period of time. Along comes the storm of ’78. It was horrible. My daughter, 18, and my beagle and I were stranded for three days without power/heat and the necessary elements for comfort. On the third day, we struggled to the neighbor across the street, who had some form of heat. Normally took half a minute to cross over. This day it took us a total of 45 minutes to fight the wind, ice and drifts of mountains of snow. We made it safely. All this time my friend was not able to contact us. Because of this catastrophe I was told that never again would I have to be in this condition alone. We were married in November 1978! What a wonderful year … 1978!
Ruth Tesar

Gathered around the fireplace
I was raised on a farm near Norwalk, Ohio, so I am no stranger to harsh winter weather, and the delicious feeling of isolation that comes when the roads are drifted shut and the wind is howling overhead. We moved to Hinckley from Brook Park in 1977, so our three sons (ages 5, 9 and 10) had never experienced that feeling. I watched with anticipation as the snow blanketed the ravine behind our house, and felt a burst of excitement as the lights went out. Since we had opted for an all-electric house, this was to be our first challenge in “roughing it.” When I stepped outside to grab some pieces of firewood, the wind was literally howling through the treetops, and it was an eerie sound that I had never heard in the open fields around our farm. The boys were excited, but my wife was a little concerned. We had a great time, though. We used a big skillet to cook over the open fire in the fireplace, and later in the evening after a lot of talking and stories, the boys dragged their blankets and pillows to the living room. I brought in enough wood to last the night, and we all settled down to sleep as my great-grandparents did, warm and cozy in front of a roaring fire. My sleep was interrupted several times as I added wood to the fire, but the rest of the family had a pleasant slumber. It was a rough stretch of weather, but it gave us some of our fondest memories of our first year in Hinckley.
Ken Hahn

A swift kick

The Blizzard of ’78 — ah, yes — I remember it well. I was working in Elyria then and ready to take my daily trek down state Route 57. I stopped in at the post office that particular day and when I returned to my warmed-up car, I found that my door had frozen shut in the few seconds that it took to deposit the letter in the building. It took me several shivering minutes to free it and that was only after a swift kick to the handle. Right then and there I decided not to make the trip. Upon arriving home, I noticed that the wind had torn one of the shutters loose and it was banging furiously against the house. It’s tough to screw a flapping shutter with frozen fingers hanging halfway out the upstairs bedroom window with my wife hanging on to my outstretched feet so I wouldn’t fall out. The temperatures were frigid and the wind brutal that day — a day that I recall vividly.
Michael D. Steirer

Always buy extra TP
Wow! What memories that time brings back. I was living with my husband and four children (ages 13, 11, 7 and 3) in Ada, Ohio, at the time. Our power went off around 1:30 a.m. on Thursday morning and did not come back until around 3:30 p.m. on Sunday. At the time we were heating our 70-year-old farmhouse with hot water baseboard heat. When the power came back on Sunday the pipes began to thaw and with the thawing came bursting. Prior to the blizzard my husband had broken his hand when one of the cows happened to kick it. So during the blizzard his hand was still in a cast. With sawing the pipes and trying to put end caps on, he broke the cast off and to this day has a lump on his hand where it never was able to mend properly. One of the worst things that we discovered on Sunday was that we had run out of toilet paper and we were still snowed in and could not get to any stores. Now that may not seem so bad but when you have six people in a house and no toilet paper that can be very unsettling. To this day, you will never walk into our home and NOT find at least six rolls of extra toilet paper in each bathroom. Another thing that was not funny at the time was that we were shoveling snow out of our living room because of the blowing coming in through the windows. Needless to say, that spring the windows were all replaced. It was a very trying four or five days, but we always felt that it helped to make our family even stronger and closer since we all worked together.
Marlene Lavan

Frozen lake
My husband and I grew up in Northeast Ohio, but in the winter of 1978, we came home for Christmas from Houston.
My parents lived in Euclid, so we went to see Lake Erie and it was frozen as far as the eye could see, and not even Christmas yet!
Mickie Heaton

Groceries via snowmobile
On the first day of the blizzard my husband had an appointment at Deaconess Hospital in Cleveland for a pre-scheduled in-house surgery. Knowing that the storm was coming I took him in early (at his request) and just dropped him at the door so I could get back home. I had our two children with me, one of which was 1½ and the other was 2 months old. It took me almost three hours to get home to Brunswick that day. What a scary drive that was. I never did get back to the hospital for his day of surgery or to visit him in the days that followed. Our neighbor used his snowmobile to get the essential groceries for us. I shall never forget the Blizzard of ’78.
Barb Noll

Taking in stranded travelers
My husband and I live in the same house now that we did that winter. Dick had gone to work the night before and usually was home by 7:30 a.m. I was getting ready to go to work when the telephone rang around 6 a.m.. Dick told me a blizzard was coming and all traffic was to stay off the roads. The highway patrol was asking people to stay home and not go out unless absolutely necessary. He wanted to make sure I didn’t leave for work. I was surprised; it seemed mild out that morning, with no snow, but I turned on the television and started listening to the ominous weather reports. I couldn’t imagine we would be getting much snow; I always made it to work in bad weather. All at once it started to snow hard and I could no longer see the road in front of the house. Our doorbell rang about 8 a.m. Standing in the doorway was a huge man, completely covered in snow! He actually looked like a giant snowman with icicles hanging from his mustache! He was so cold he could barely talk. I got him into the house and gave him blankets and coffee. He was from Ohio Edison, on his way to work from Brunswick. His car was stuck in the snow-covered road in front of our house, between Stone and Branch roads. He desperately wanted to get to work but could not; the snow was blowing and drifting and it was much colder by then. My husband still wasn’t home. He worked just 10 minutes from the house but the drive took him 2½ hours that morning! We believe he was one of only a few to make it through Columbia Road that morning. He joined me and the Edison man in watching the television for reports. We still had power and our telephone so we were calling relatives to make sure they were safe. Later that morning, a truck driver joined us; his car froze to the road a little south of our house. Two young men in a four-wheel drive Bronco thought they could speed through the tunnel of snow traveling north on Columbia. They buried their truck in the snow; they had been on a mission to take milk to someone with a baby on Stone Road. Another young man had left his job site and was trying to reach his pregnant wife in Lodi; he was very concerned about her. All these fellows took up residence in our family room. We had a wood fire with a stove then so we were nice and warm; they stayed for three nights. The snowplows didn’t clear our road for three days. The young guys were eager to get out and the Edison man wanted to get his car out of the road. He was a little older and we were concerned he might work too hard out there (no way to get to a doctor) so the younger fellows worked to get it out but it took all three days. During that time a snowmobile passed over his car leaving tracks in the snow. A big front-end loader from Medina Supply came out to clear the road and got the frozen vehicles out of the road. Then an Army half-track came through to clear most of the snow so the plows could get through. It was quite an adventure! All the fellows made it home eventually and we heard from some of them later. The fellow from Ohio Edison made me a nice leather purse and my husband a wallet. We got wood from the fellow who was a truck driver. We were just glad to be able to give shelter to them. We had plenty of food and lost power for only a couple of hours. I was able to fix hot meals the whole time. We never lost telephone service so all kept in touch with their families; no one had cell phones then! That was the last time our road was completely snowed shut!
Frances and Richard A. Koenig

Frozen Learjet
At the time of the Blizzard of ’78, I was employed as general manager of Sundorph Aeronautical Corporation. Sundorph was an aviation service company located on the west side of Cleveland Hopkins Airport near NASA. Around 5:50 a.m. the morning of the blizzard, the company president called me to suggest that I might want to check the weather and possibly get out to the airport as soon as possible. I could hear the wind actually roaring and when I looked outside, I saw the snow flying horizontally past the windows. When I finally made my way to the airport, I discovered the access road from Brookpark Road to our facility was completely blocked with drifted snow and stuck vehicles. After several drivers behind me were kind enough to back-up, I was able to access NASA’s drive and leave my car at their guard shack and completed the trip across their taxiway to our operations building on foot. There were approximately 25-30 transient aircraft that had diverted from Burke Lakefront Airport setting in all sorts of positions on the parking aprons as well as the adjacent taxiways, having become trapped in the deep, wet snow and unable to move any farther. A few airplanes were blown against each other by the gale-force wind in places where the wind had exposed the ice under the snow. As you may recall, the storm began as a heavy rain followed by a rapid temperature drop to near zero accompanied by very strong winds. The temperature dropped so quickly that the runway and taxiway surfaces were covered with deep slushy snow topped with an icy crust. So rapid was the freeze that a Learjet landing on the runway became frozen in place when it stopped. The crew was forced to abandon the airplane and walk across the field to operations. Eventually, the ice trapping the airplane was melted away using large gasoline heaters, allowing it to be towed off the runway. All in all, the Blizzard of ’78 was an experience never to be forgotten by many of us working at Hopkins Airport. The electric power on the west side of the airport was out, but thanks to the Army Reserve 316th Medevac unit based next door, we were able to use a portable generator. That provided enough power to run the heating boiler, telephones and the coffee pot. Due to the determination and dedication of two or three NASA cafeteria workers who made it to work that day, we were able to have some hot food to keep us going. After spending the night and most of the following day clearing snow and ice and thawing out airplanes, we were able to resume a few normal operations.
Donald L. Kenney

Tractor rescue
I am a dairy farmer in Litchfield on land my grandfather bought in 1894. During the Blizzard of 1978 our backdoor neighbors and fellow firefighters and EMTs Joyce Teodecki (Litchfield’s present fire chief) and her husband Chris asked me to get 82-year-old Mrs. Ethel Psota from her cold (because of electric power outage) house. Her son, Louis Psota, had to deal with milking the cows without electric power. The Teodeckis were offering Mrs. Psota a warm house to weather out the storm. Back in 1978, farm tractors with enclosed cabs were not that common. In 1972 we had a very wet fall and weren’t able to harvest all our corn. My father Paul W. vowed to get a bigger tractor that would get through the mud. Johnny Wanko, the farm equipment salesman for Medina Farmers Exchange, sold us a White 4-150 ( all big four-wheel-drive with 150 HP engine) with a cab on it. The roads were impassable for ordinary vehicles. There were snowmobiles but it was cold to ride on. That’s why I got the call to rescue Mrs. Psota with our tractor with a heated cab. As I was driving down Bryenton Road to Psota’s house I kept wondering if I would run right over a car buried in the snow. Here at Kruggel Farms we never lost electric power. But Homer Hange in Spencer knew we had a tractor-powered generator so he came and used it to milk and feed his cows. It seemed like the winter of ’78 would never end. There were low-temperature records set. The wind blew snow through every crack in the barns. When it would warm up it would start snowing again. No one talked about global warming that winter.
John P. Kruggel

Spirit of caring
I and members of REACT opened the shelter at the county administration building the first night of the blizzard. I had taken a disaster training course for RNs given by the Red Cross during the preceding fall and I got to use the training. Since I lived only four blocks from the administration building, I got the call to open the shelter. My vehicle and a National Guard tank were the only vehicles moving through the square that evening. I had never seen a tank in the square before or since — it was quite a sight. I reached the administration building along with a couple of REACT members and began to receive truck drivers who were stranded and had managed to walk to the shelter. The Red Cross couldn’t access the storage building where the cots were kept so the truck drivers just started to curl up in the hallways to sleep. I remember people coming with donations of blankets, food and games. People would just come in, drop off donations and leave. A wonderful spirit of caring. I don’t remember how long I worked that night but Red Cross workers did eventually arrive and took over the shelter operation. I think of the blizzard often when the snows of January start to fall. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to share my memories.
Elaine Nichols

Long road trip
I was a college senior interning with one of the Big Eight accounting firms on assignment in Ashland. We made it down to the job OK and the first couple of days went fine. Then we woke up to a snowstorm. Not any snowstorm, but one that was snowing horizontally due to the wind. The snow was already piling up at 7:30 in the morning, but from our hotel on U.S. Route 250 it was only about three or four miles to our client. So being the hard-charging, eager young accountants we were, we piled in the car and took off. Well, almost. It was so cold that with three of us in a small car we had to run the defroster on full to be able to see out the windows, so that took awhile to clear up.
Going about 15 mph down Route 250 was an adventure in and of itself, with visibility down to zero. And that became apparent when we came upon a pickup truck stopped in the middle of the road. Still don’t know why they were stopped, other than they couldn’t see and had the good sense to stop driving. With no time to stop and probably no ability to due to the snow on the road, our intrepid driver swerved right, right into a snow bank and the pickup went on its merry way. Trying to push the car out was quite fun, taking about five-minutes shifts was all two of the three of us could stand. One fellow with naturally curly hair and of course no hat looked like Santa after one try — completely white hair and eyebrows. After about 30 minutes the pickup did come back and pull us out, so at that point we went back to our motel to wait it out. If I remember correctly it was an old L&K motel and restaurant at the junction of Interstate 71 and Route 250. We went back thinking we would be back on the job by the next day. Remember this was before the Internet, e-mail, cell phone or cable TV, so we were in a hotel with not much to do. No big deal for a day right? We decided to play cards. Well, one day stretched to two and then three. Only so many times you can play poker or rummy without going numb. By the last day the menu in the restaurant was down to anything you wanted as long as it was eggs and toast. Our luck the motel was pretty full at the time and for the first 2½ days the roads were completely closed. By late on day three the roads were open and we ended up going to our client’s office at about 8 at night to pick some papers with the plan to drive back to Cleveland the next day. What a drive that was. I-71 was open but mostly only one lane and every once in a while with no warning we would come across what I would call ice floes in the road that were like being off road when you hit them. We made it back and lived to tell about it. So that was the Blizzard of ’78 for me.
John Takacs

Milk truck arrived just in time
Having roads closed for whatever reason has always been a fear of dairy farmers. Milk is perishable and has to be stored in a clean cool container. The cows have to be milked and the milk house bulk tank is only so big and can hold usually only five milkings. The Blizzard of ’78 stopped the milk trucks from reaching farms and a lot of milk went down the drain. Here at Kruggel Farms, we make maple syrup, so we have big clean tanks for storing the sap in. We carried one into the milk house, put it against a cold wall, banked the other sides with snow and put cold milk from the bulk tank in it. Sheets of plastic kept the milk clean. The milk truck, which came from east of Wooster, got here just in time so that we didn’t have to dump any milk. The truck driver stayed overnight before continuing on to other farms and then into Cleveland. His comment was: “They are going to be glad to get milk in the city!” In Homerville there was a dairy farmer, Charles Workman, who was tired of northern Ohio weather. He had gone to Louisiana to find and buy a farm. His wife was left at home to milk the cows. They had no electric generator so the cows didn’t get milked till several days later when some of the Amish neighbors came and milked them by hand. The cows suffered from not being milked all those days and produced a very reduced amount of milk the rest of that lactation. Farmers are always gambling with the weather.
John Kruggel

Churches opened to travelers
I remember people with snowmobiles helping people out by getting groceries and such. I remember people in my neighborhood using cross-country skis. I remember keeping our fireplace burning in case we had no heat. I remember taking pictures of my girls standing on the huge pile of snow at the end of our driveway from the snowplows. I remember people on snowmobiles rescuing people on the interstate and taking them to churches in Wadsworth, mine being one of them. Luckily my family had no problems. We just stayed home and stayed warm. I got an e-mail from a friend talking about living in that era and that we didn’t see snow like that anymore. I sure am glad.
Linda Kramer

A blizzard baby
This is really an easy one for our family. Thirty years ago on Jan. 26, 1978, our daughter Jaclyn Ann Funk (Raub) was born. It was very dramatic as her father, Jack, was on the road and I started having labor pains at midnight. The “plan” was for me to call my dad who lived in Rittman (to take me to the hospital) and my sister (to stay with our son, Aaron). Well, it wasn’t quite that simple. When I called my dad he said, “Eileen, the roads are really bad. I hope I can get to your house.” It took my dad and sister over an hour to arrive to my home on Rawiga Road. When my dad arrived he said there would be no way he could get me to the hospital. So I called Gillman (they were our backup just in case my dad wasn’t available). Another hour later, they arrived in a hearse. My dad and I left for Wadsworth-Rittman Hospital. At one point Bob Gillman had to get out and direct the driver with a flashlight because they couldn’t see the road. It seemed like hours before we arrived at Wadsworth-Rittman. When we finally got there the only doctor on duty was a doctor I couldn’t trust. (He was the doctor my mother had 13 years prior and she died in childbirth and my brother was stillborn.) Needless to say, I had to leave. I was not staying at that hospital with that doctor. So I called my knight in shining armor, Tom Mullaney. He agreed to attempt to take me to Barberton Citizens Hospital. He understood why I needed to leave and he said, “I’ve never delivered a baby in a hearse before, but if that is what I will have to do, I will!” We arrived at Barberton and my husband was already there! He had put his car in a ditch and had received a ride from someone to get to the hospital. Our beautiful daughter was born and all was well. At home my sister had no heat. A neighbor helped her to start a fire in the fireplace and our son was well taken care of. On the way home with Jaclyn the road crew of Guilford Township coordinated our arrival and met us with a huge front loader to plow the road as we arrived home to. This is a story we will never forget. It ended with happy memories.
Eileen Funk

Mad dogs and photographers
I believe it was the Blizzard of ’78, my picture was on the front page of The Gazette as I was walking home from work when Westfield Companies closed early. It wasn’t a very pleasant walk, but what I remember most was there was actually a reporter out in the storm taking pictures.
Jan Meadows

Golfing during the blizzard
Ah, yes I remember it well! I was on a golfing vacation in Bermuda and I had to call my boss in Cleveland to say that I had to spend another day in Bermuda because all the airports on the East Coast were closed because of the terrible weather. It proved to enhance my golf game and on the first hole at Castle Harbour golf course I hit my first shot on the very first hole on the edge of the green. I might add that the hole from tee to green was a mere 345 yards. Best time I ever had!
Keith Williams

Stuck at a motel
Ohhhh, I remember that blizzard well. I was still working at Case Western Reserve University at the time; I was an assistant dean at Western Reserve College, the undergraduate liberal arts component of CWRU. One of my jobs was to go along with representatives of the admissions office to put on the “dog-and-pony” show about the college. We spent Wednesday night doing our shtick at the Imperial House Motel in Dayton and then went to bed. We were due in Cincinnati the next night for another performance of the “dog-and-pony” show. Alas, that was not to be. Because of the blizzard that snuck in that evening we were stuck there in the motel for several days. We were there all day Thursday and all day Friday. One of those nights we were able to trek out of the motel and we went to see a movie; I think it was the first episode of “Star Wars” that we saw. A baby was born in the motel while we were there. There was a restaurant across the street from the motel and I recall it being absolutely mobbed but with lots of people all chipping in to clear tables and help out. The interstate had cleared enough by Saturday morning so that we could finally start the drive back to Cleveland. That drive took 10 hours but, of course, we all survived. Was it really 30 years ago? Holy cow!
Ian S. Haberman

Listen to your mother
It has been a long time since the blizzard of ’78, but I still recall most of that day. I was 19 years old and working in downtown Cleveland for Ohio Bell as a steno clerk. I remember my supervisor let us leave around 3 p.m. because the weather was obviously getting very bad. By the time I left my office, the wind was blowing fiercely and I could hardly see. I trudged from Erieview Plaza, which is on St. Clair and East 14th, to Public Square because walking was faster than waiting for the loop bus to arrive. I didn’t have snow boots on, but I did have gloves and a hood on my coat. Around 4 p.m., I reached the square. I waited for the bus that went up West 25th to Parma which is where I lived. It was chaotic at the square, and people were pushing and shoving to get a seat on the bus. I managed to get a seat in the back half of the bus just beyond the back side doors. There was a hole in the door where the plastic had been ripped off and cold air was blowing in. In those days, the doors had clear plastic panels, not glass. I was freezing, but happy I had a seat. We sat in traffic on West 25th for hours and hours. There was a traffic jam and the bus driver was not allowed to go off his scheduled route without permission from RTA. It was dark outside by the time the driver finally took a side street to get around the traffic and then got back on West 25th and headed toward State Road. After about two hours on the road, I remember asking an older girl who was standing if she would like to sit for awhile. She said no and after another hour passed, I asked her again. I couldn’t believe no one was offering any of the people standing the opportunity to switch positions for a while. The second time I asked, she said she would like to sit down for a little bit and we switched spots. I thought she would eventually offer me my seat back, but I was wrong. When I finally got to my stop at 11 p.m., my feet and legs were so tired and cold from standing in the same spot for so long. I got off the bus and walked in knee-deep snow for about a block and decided to stop at a house that still had their lights on. I was a little scared, but I wanted to call my parents and tell them I was safe. My family had no idea where I was, they only knew that I had left work at 3 p.m. The people in the house where I stopped were very hospitable and gave me a bowl of soup and let me use their phone. My street was not plowed and had over a foot of snow coating it, so my dad could not come and get me. I walked three more blocks and finally arrived home about midnight. Normally my commute took 45 minutes, but due to the blizzard, I was trapped on that bus for over seven hours! That was the longest trip on a bus I have ever had! If only I had listened to my mom when she told me to wear boots that morning.
Lori Dominguez

Kiss in the blizzard
The eve of the ’78 blizzard it rained all day (keep in mind the weather updates were not like they are today). About 5 that evening, it started to snow. Oh boy did it snow and my boyfriend Craig and I had tickets to the Kiss concert at the Richfield Coliseum. Since the tickets were expensive back then, a whole $7.50 a piece, we did not want to miss the show. So off we went with my mother very upset with us. To top it all off, I did not take any boots with me. I heard about that the next day when I got home. We got to about the rest area going north on Interstate 271 and came to a complete halt as traffic was backed up over a mile from the exit. As we sat waiting, we had to keep the windshield wipers going as the snow kept piling up. We finally made it to the Coliseum, got parked and inside for the concert. What a great concert it was, too. I kept thinking, “Wonder if it’s still snowing hard outside?” If I remember right, the band kept us updated that the snow was still piling up. We finally decided to leave during the second encore of the performance. When we came out, there was about 8 inches of snow on the cars and the parking lot had not been touched. Once we got on I-271 south to head back to Westfield Center, we found that the highway was not much better. If the snowplows had gone through, you would have never known. Slowly we moved our way down the highway. Going downhill was not bad, but going uphill was another story. We got stuck right in the middle of the road. We backed up and went forward again and found ourselves stuck in the same place. Craig finally said that he was going to get out and push, and I would have to drive. We finally made it to the top of the hill and proceeded to make it the rest of the way to Westfield Center. Once there, we could go no farther because the roads had not been plowed. Needless to say, this was not good on my part, as I lived in Lodi. I called my mom and dad to let them know we got back OK. They wanted me home that night. Craig’s parents finally convinced them it was best I stay there till morning. I remember that the county had to bring in front-end loaders to clear out Ryan Road in Chippewa Lake because it had drifted so high. Craig and I have been married 24 years now, and have three daughters. As my oldest (age 19, same age as I was) gets ready to head out on a nasty night, I sound just like my mom did 30 years ago telling her she really needs to stay home. And, yes, Mom, if you are reading this, you were right. We should have never left Lodi that night. As we look back on the Blizzard of ’78, we now realize how stupid we really were. Someone was definitely looking over us that night.
Lila Horner

Horrible wind
Oh my, do I remember. I was a single parent with two children, 12 and 9 at the time. And a wonderful collie, Princess. Around 2 a.m. I got up and let the dog outside. It was rainy and around 55 degrees. Got her back in, and went back to sleep. The next thing I knew, my son was standing by my bed saying, “Mom, I’m scared.” It was around 5 a.m. The wind was buffeting the house, I had sliding glass windows in my bedroom. The wind was so bad it had forced snow inside, through the place where the windows slid together. And there was weather stripping in there! I got up, and was getting dressed for work. My older sister called, and said, “You darned stubborn Kennedy. You are not going out in this, are you?” Well, yes, I had planned to … Thought better of all that when I turned the TV on. It had gotten so cold so fast, I had to shut the back door with a hammer and a piece of wood, pounding on top to get it shut. Needless to say, every time the dog wanted out I thought, “Oh no, not again.” She was a wonderful dog, but not smart enough not to do her “business” with her back end to the wind. The wind promptly blew the result of her “business” all over her side and head. So in the middle of all this storm, I was giving a collie a bath! This is a serious undertaking in the best of weather. The really worst part of the storm for us was the constant wind, which got on your nerves after a while. My fear was that the electric would go off, and there would be no way for us to get out of here, and no way to keep warm. But thank you, Cleveland Electric Illuminating, it didn’t. We were housebound for three days, glued to the TV and huddled under electric blankets. I’ve been through close tornadoes and other severe weather, but I think this was the very worst. Scary, very scary. I now have an idea of what a hurricane is like.
Bonnie Kennedy

Buried school bus
We have lived in Lafayette Township for 34½years. I was a new Cloverleaf school bus driver when the blizzard hit. I believe we had 13 days of closed school. Some for heating (gas) crisis, if I remember right. My bus was kept in my turnaround in my yard. The space between the two houses just made it like a wind tunnel and filled our drive with so much snow. The bus was 13 feet high and 30 feet long and was completely buried. You could see not one inch of the big yellow bus. When it came to school being back on we had help from Mr. Skidmore on state Route 162 with his backhoe to get it out. Route 162 west was narrow with walls of snow as high as the bus. While doing a shuttle from Chatham school to Lafayette school I passed another bus going with a shuttle the other way and we hit mirrors. The roads were narrower with all the plowed walls of snow. I also remember when we were back to school coming into our bus garage a little nervous from the roads, thinking it was because I was a new driver, but there was our supervisor at the time, Ed Hoge, telling me he was nervous, too, and he had a lot of experience. How’s this for a good boss! When the blizzard started my husband started off for work in sweatshirt. Temperature at 5 a.m. was not bad yet and by time he got on Route 162 west it started dropping fast and whiting out with high wind. He went in the ditch and walked home. He was so cold by time he got home. He did not get the car out for about three or four days till our street was opened up and the National Guard helped to plow the road open.
Margaret Krankowski

Blizzard delivery
Our baby was not due until mid-February, but the morning of Jan. 26, 1978, as the wind began blowing and whirling snow with the prediction of a big storm and no way to get out of the drive, we started our day planning a nice quiet time enjoying the storm and playing a few board games at home with our 6-year-old daughter. I was expecting another baby and by about 11 a.m. I was not sure if I started to go into labor. I called the doctor and since the baby wasn’t due for another three weeks or so, he suggested I come into the office the next morning for a check. As the day went on, the snow piled higher and we were getting concerned that we might not make it to the hospital at all. I got advice from several friends and relatives via phone, but by about 6 p.m. I talked with my best friend about my concern. Her husband was a deputy sheriff and he called the highway patrol station (just down the road from our house on state Route 3) to see which roads were open in case we would have to venture out. We were instructed to just stay home, but if we did go to the hospital, we should let the patrol know what time we were going to leave our house and they would “call the hospital in a reasonable amount of time to check if we arrived.” If not, they would come looking for us on the route they suggested we take since most roads were closed. At these words, panic struck and we began scrambling to get the neighbors to watch our daughter! The snow was half way up the back door, but my husband struggled to get to the neighbors’ patio door with a sleeping bag and other essentials for a 6-year-old! We lived in the country and the homes were pretty far apart so I hoped that I would see my husband again and not have him swept away with the blowing snow or lost in the blizzard! The neighbor came over to help my husband get part of the 200-foot-long drive cleared so we could attempt the drive. We didn’t have to worry about much traffic as we pulled onto Route 3! We were in such a hurry at this point and worried about getting stuck in the snow. As we turned down Foote Road (as the patrol suggested and which was a narrow winding road at that time) and actually plowed through a few snow drifts, I really began to worry we might have this baby in a snow drift on Foote Road totally unprepared — no snow shovel, no blanket. What were we thinking? Fortunately, we did make it to the hospital. The patrol did call to check on us. The baby, another daughter, was born the morning of Jan. 27 as the wind howled outside the delivery room. My husband was exhausted from the previous day and night before. The police tried to help him get home later that day, but he was told that all the roads were closed and he should just stay at the hospital. Finally, by Saturday, Jan. 28, while I was talking with my older daughter on the phone, she asked me to hold on because there were National Guard soldiers at the front door. Later, when I asked why they were there, I was told that they were looking for the highway patrol station! Later that day, I remember sitting at the window of the hospital I saw an army tank with the Red Cross on it pulling into the emergency area. Those soldiers were really at work with tanks and snowmobiles, etc. At that I realized that I would have a story to tell this little baby that chose to arrive three weeks early in the middle of the Blizzard of 1978! I saved the newspapers of that day for her and often tell her the story. Each year as the weather is reported and they remember the Blizzard of ’78, we once again remember! This baby that couldn’t wait to arrive during the snow is not a snow lover — she now lives in California!
Noreen Wendt

Never enough firewood
On the day of the storm we lived on Hamilton Road in Medina Township. About a month before the storm a friend of mine and I prepared what we thought was enough firewood for our fireplace and his to last the winter. Since our electricity was off for three days and the temperature dropped to 50 degrees in the house, we burned all the firewood up in two nights. I learned why in all the old-time Western movies there was always someone chopping wood. We slept on the floor in the living room in front of the fireplace.
Russell “Ted” Elliott

A blizzard wedding
The day before the Blizzard of ’78 hit, Judy and her Mom traveled from Medina to Columbus to take items that would be needed for our wedding reception to be held in the church fellowship hall. Judy fully intended to take her wedding gown along, but her mom convinced her to leave it at home. Our marriage was to be Saturday, Jan. 28, 1978, at 2 p.m. at the Columbus Apostolic Christian Church where she worshipped while attending OSU. After the blizzard hit on Thursday, the phone started ringing. The minister from Mansfield could not get out of his drive, the roads to the church in Columbus were not passable, and are Jim and Judy still getting married on Saturday? We were determined to find a way to get married that weekend. The family church in Montville Township was available. Jim’s pastor from Cleveland agreed to officiate the next day. We had no flowers to decorate the church. Judy wore her mother’s shoes stuffed with paper towels. Most of our immediate family was able to attend the wedding. Mohican, where we planned to honeymoon, was snowed in, so we spent a night at the Holiday Inn at Interstate 71 and state Route 18. The following weekend we dressed up again and had our reception at the church in Columbus for those who were unable to attend the wedding. Still married after almost 30 years, we are still planning a honeymoon we never got to take.
Jim and Judy Fetzer

Able to help others
For obvious reasons, that is a cold blur from the past. In 1978, I was living with my first husband in Zanesville, Ohio. We were living in an upstairs apartment that was part of an “educational” wing/building owned by the Zane Trace Church of Christ in an older part of town known as Putnam. The building is located three blocks from the Muskingum River and the Sixth Street Bridge that had been destroyed during the 1913 flood. Tuesday was warm but there were inches of snow on the ground. We had to keep the sidewalks cleared and there was a good foot of snow down with another foot coming down sideways. That night, the temperature dropped about 50 degrees and the wind was clocked at about 80 mph. A freight train balling the jack would pretty well describe the sound of the wind coming through. Casement windows were vibrating and we hoped that they would hold together. The circulating hot water heat was working hard to keep us plenty warm. Wednesday morning was cold! The temperature was about -20 degrees with the wind still blowing. I needed to go to the little mom-and-pop store two blocks away to get some necessary items. It took half an hour to drive those two blocks. I normally don’t get scared driving on ice or snow, but that “loose nut” behind the other wheel coming toward me scares me more. I called my supervisor/boss and told her I was not going to be working that day. I was employed at Combs Brothers Shoe Store at the Country Fair Shopping Center across town about seven miles. By that time, the highway patrol had declared the roads a Level 3 — keep off or be arrested. She told me to take a bus to work. Fine, but the buses and taxi cabs were both shut down. I told her the level warning out and asked if she was willing to come and get me. I didn’t work that day. When you look out a back window and see a full-size fire truck dragging through an alley and having trouble moving, you know it is getting bad! The local radio station was reporting that even Interstate 70 was shut down as the snowplows couldn’t get through to keep it open. People trapped were being rescued from the freeway. We started to make some phone calls to church people for permission. There were a large classroom and two smaller classrooms downstairs, restrooms and a small kitchen. We wanted to open the building for a shelter. Heat and a warm carpeted floor sounded pretty good to me when you are faced with no heat and -20 degrees. Permission was given. More phone calls. The highway patrol headquarters was called and then we contacted a brother-in-law living at Nashport 20 miles away. He was a CB’er. We had him get on the air to let people know we were open for emergency shelter. The local radio and TV station was contacted. We started to get calls from people needing help with food. We were over in charge of a small food bank in the building. There was no possible way we could get out on the streets to drive. The car was now snowed in the garage. To the phone to call brother-in-law to relay word over CB for help. They were fantastic, hard-working, angels in long johns and thermal underwear! “Bearhugger” ran two days without stopping for no more than a hot cup of coffee or a quick bowl of soup. I had cleaned my refrigerator to make a big crock pot of hot vegetable soup and had hot chocolate and coffee ready for them in the kitchen. By that night, we had guests shivering from the cold. Two gentlemen heading home to Pennsylvania that had been in Columbus for a magic convention, another couple that had been stranded on I-70,three students from east of town who found no electric or heat in their apartment, and their little toy poodle mix. Blankets were found, food was shared, and we brought our little TV down for them to keep up with the news. They were happy to be with us and to be warm. Saturday afternoon, conditions had changed. The Muskingum River had ice blocks piled up 15 feet and a danger to the bridges. Plans were to try dynamite to open the water channels. If it didn’t work, the city planned to evacuate the old Seventh Ward. This was a section on the city’s west side that was settled by early immigrants from Germany and had become home to many of the early slaves escaping from the South. The land is low river bottom and prone to flooding. The flood of 1913 left about 25 feet of water over the area. Sunday morning started with word that the Red Cross was bringing 150 people to stay with us. The first guests were moved into one of the smaller rooms for safety. These weren’t the highest class of citizens and we didn’t want any of their meager belongings to end up misplaced. When the Red Cross arrived, there were cots and blankets set up in the larger room. It looked like a field hospital from the Civil War or World War I. About an hour later, the people were bused in. Red Cross took over the kitchen and I gladly went “home” for a quick nap. The dynamite worked and the flooding didn’t happen. Three hours later, the people were taken back home. The good part was that we ended up with three cots and about six re-process wool blankets (use once, pitch). Red Cross even cleaned up the kitchen and left extra groceries for us. I did lose one cooking pan, but didn’t mind too much. By that afternoon, the bans were lifted by the highway patrol and we were able to bid our other guests goodbye and see them on their way home. It had been a long, interesting experience. What do I remember the most? The little 80-year-old lady who called in, needing one packet of yeast so she could bake some bread. Nothing more needed, just the yeast. She was just fine, had food for several days, house was warm, medicine to take. Just wanted some yeast. She got a packet of yeast and a bag of groceries. You never know what lesson life will give you or when. It was a time to be thankful for the little part we were able to play in such a devastating time. We laughed about everything later, but were very thankful we could help so many others. God opens doors. It is up to us to push it open and jump through.
Carol Foote

Chili in the chill
I remember that we had two rough winters in a row — 1977 and 1978. The reason I can remember is that I got married in November of 1977. In the winter of 1977 my future husband went to Vermont for some winter camping and while he was gone the pipes froze at his family’s farm and his horse got colic and died. Energy was an issue and one Friday the governor of Ohio ordered everyone to keep their thermostats at 65 degrees during the day and 60 at night for the weekend. A blizzard was brewing in the afternoon. I was working at a law office and they decided to send everyone home early except for me since I walked to work and could walk the short distance home. I left the office at 5, bundled up and began the three-block trek home. Wind and snow were blowing fiercely. There was not a car in sight and I proceeded to walk down the middle of Route 18 going east of the square! During another predicted storm my husband was determined to get to the farm (where I did our laundry) before it got too bad. We ended up being snowed in down there. We were eating chili at his Uncle Dick and Aunt Esther’s home and began to cheer when the National Guard came through to clear the road! When we drove home the pilings of snow along the road must have been 12 to 14 feet tall. Uncle Dick remembers having to ride a horse to town to get groceries. Rather than being frightened, I remember feeling the excitement and challenge of all that snow and the warmth of eating chili with family and neighbors.
Mary Winkler

An adventure at BGSU
I was a sophomore at Bowling Green State University during the Blizzard of ’78. I remember hearing that a big storm was coming, but not thinking much of it. We had many storms blow across the “flatlands of Ohio,” and this was probably no different. They never canceled classes at BGSU, so it wouldn’t affect us too much. This time, however, they did cancel classes. In fact, they canceled them for three days. The university’s water supply came from a reservoir and it had frozen solid. Unfortunately, the heat for the buildings was steam heat, so without water, we had no heat. That also meant we had no hot food and, eventually, hardly any food since supply lines were stopped by the storm. We also had no water … we had to dip the toilets! We put snow in them to melt so we could go the bathroom. The Ohio National Guard was called in and they actually slept in the common areas of the dorms. As I recall, there was about a foot of snow, but it had started as rain and the sudden drop in temperature caused the rains to instantly freeze. The gutters and drains were frozen solid, and the winds blew like I had never seen. We heard reports of people stranded and of freight trains even being stopped in their tracks. Drifts were unbelievably high … sometimes one or two stories of a dorm building were covered. Being college students, we thought the blizzard was an adventure. To keep warm, we put on multiple layers of clothes and coats. For three days it was one big party. We even dressed one brave soul up in multiple coats, hats, gloves and boots and sent him on a beer run. Then the mayor decided to halt all sales of alcohol. We were cut off from communication back then. The power was out, there were no cell phones or PCs. It wasn’t until afterward that we realized the true devastation of the storm.
Karen Thorn

Meeting Bette in a blizzard
The blizzard hit during the early morning hours of Thursday, and my roommate and I had tickets for a Bette Midler concert scheduled for Friday night at the Front Row Theatre. I was teaching in Brunswick at the time, and my friend was a principal of the elementary school in Homerville, so we both were off work Thursday and Friday. (Of course, most people were off those days, not much was going on.) We lived at the Ivy Hill condos, and thanks to a nice neighbor who shoveled the drifts from our door, we were able to get out on Friday. We set out to go to the show (wondering all the time why the governor hadn’t declared a state of emergency and cancelled all activities). We got on Interstate 71 headed north, but not for long. Turns out the governor had cancelled things and closed roads. A nice patrolman told us to get off the highway. We did, but instead of heading back home, we decided to try surface streets and keep going.
Somehow, we made it to the hotel somewhere east of Cleveland, along Interstate 90, where Bette was staying. I don’t remember how we knew which hotel it was, but my friend and I made it, and met my brother there. We scouted around the hotel, and were lucky enough to meet Bette, very briefly. We got to tell her how much we admired her, and to be amazed at how tiny she is. And how quiet, as opposed to her stage manner! She was very gracious. We had enough sense to stay at the hotel that night, and returned home to Medina the next day. Either that weekend or on Monday, I can’t remember which, we drove out to Homerville to see the damage to the school, where we found windows broken and snow-filled classrooms. We spent a little time sweeping/shoveling snow, then crawled back to Medina. While I wouldn’t do it now, I’m glad that we made it through to meet Bette that night. The show would have been great, but to be in the same room as Bette and meet her was worth a hair-raising, white-knuckle (and I think possibly illegal) drive.
Judy Cross

Roads like tunnels
I remember the Blizzard of ’78 with fondness! I was a senior at Medina High and we got two weeks off school, which we never even had to make up, for some reason. I was a new driver and I remember it being quite dangerous at all the four-way stops around town. There was so much snow the roads were practically like a tunnel. Everyone knew someone who had gotten stuck driving. It was all pretty exciting. Our winters these days are pretty wimpy. We don’t get the snow we used to. I could go for a good two- or three-footer.
Paula Knight

Thank goodness for the Ranchero
My Ranchero was the only vehicle that could transport goods to and from our farm on Kennedy Road. Kennedy Road dead-ends on both ends, so we weren’t even considered for plowing any time soon, plus the township wasn’t equipped to move much snow. My sons (teenagers then) transported me each day through the fields on the tractor to get to my Ranchero and to work. It was below zero most mornings. A very cool ride. The neighbors ran out of fuel oil, so a 55-gallon drum was put in my car to bring the fuel in, then transported by tractor to the fuel tank. Cases of eggs were taken out by tractor, chicken feed brought in. The actual storm with the high winds took the roof off of one barn and smashed it into a window in a building where Mother had the rabbits. To get to the barn in the blowing snow and wind, we put a cardboard box over our heads to break the wind so we could breathe. We also joined hands so we wouldn’t lose each other in the blinding snow. All we could see was our feet. After reaching the barn, we moved rabbits and a newborn calf into the milk house, which was heated. The rabbits were covered with snow. Only when they moved their ears could we tell where they were. We were snowed in for a week until the township hired bulldozers to open the road. It took two dozers all day to open a short stretch of Kennedy Road. Back to normal was a long time coming.
Georgia Kimble

Guard hauled water and fuel
I lived on Erhart Road, south of West Smith. The wind blew a drift 12 feet high. The National Guard was called out and a large truck with a “battleship” V-blade plow rammed that snow drift six to eight times before breaking through to West Smith. On the CB, a couple (the wife was pregnant) gave hourly readings of the house temperatures and her near delivery — with no fuel oil. They were on the CB until the National Guard delivered fuel oil. She went into labor and a snowmobile took her to Medina General Hospital. The National Guard used a water tank and trailer to haul water to York Township Hall for people who had run out of water, but it froze solid before many gallons of water were dispersed. We lost power and had to use the fireplace to keep the house from freezing, closing off the living room to keep warm. Snow we melted at the fireplace for drinking and flushing the toilet. A Coleman camp lantern and candles were our light. It took four hours, round-trip, to go seven miles to Medina to get milk and eggs. When I tried to enter my driveway, the snow I rammed clogged my radiator and jammed the fan, so I left the car just off the roadway. The Buckeye High School food service manager, worried over power loss, used her snowmobile to go from Valley City to Buckeye High School to check on food temperatures and overall conditions.
Al Bon

Pine tree snapped in half
During 1978, I was caring for my aged mother on the family farm on Route 18 east, so I remember the blizzard very well. She had a heart condition, so I watched the temperature of the house closely. We lived on a hill so as the winds picked up and snow became heavier, I prayed the power would not go out as we heated with an oil furnace but had to have electricity to operate it. Well, the power did fail and I prayed it would not be off for long. With the wind howling and snow swirling all around, it didn’t look good. The pancake house, which was a field away, called and asked if they could help in any way, as they knew my situation. They thought perhaps they could get the rescue squad, if necessary or even if possible. My prayers were answered as power was restored in two hours, which was amazing, considering conditions. I still thank the power company for that prompt help in impossible conditions. The next morning, I went outside and our large old pine tree in the front yard had snapped in half. It looked like a moonscape — desolate and eerie, with no sign of traffic whatsoever. One farm tractor came along and that was it. It certainly was an experience to remember and I won’t forget the Blizzard of ’78.
Virginia Higgins

Stranded at the hospital
The Blizzard of ’78 remains in my memory as a blur of blowing snow, icy cold and being bone tired. At the time I was working as an LPN in the acute care unit of Medina Hospital. My shift was 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. Went to work Wednesday night and was unable to return home until Saturday afternoon. In the height of the storm, I thought it was the end of the world. We knew the storm was coming in, but when it hadn’t arrived by 5:30 a.m., we thought we were home free. Boy were we wrong! It struck with a vengeance and it was soon all too obvious that we weren’t going to get out and most of the day shift was not going to get in.
The hospital was a lot smaller in those days, but it was full. No question about going off shift. We just shifted into daytime mode and kept moving. No linen delivery, so no automatic bed changing — only what was necessary. Some of us cooked and served food. Others helped wherever needed. There was no job category. Hardest part was trying to reassure patients when you were scared skinny yourself. Elective surgery was postponed and only emergency was done. The National Guard, city police and sheriff’s department managed to get some personnel into work if they lived close. We welcomed the additional help with open arms as by this time we were getting a bit tired. We took turns trying to catch a few hours sleep on spare mattresses thrown down on the classroom floor. Fortunately, for my peace of mind, the phone service stayed intact and I could check on the home situation daily. My dad was staying with us while he recovered from a heart attack. He did not say “hello,” but instead: “Stay the hell where you are,” which was excellent advice. Finally, Saturday afternoon I was able to venture out into the white wasteland and make my way home. Had to go by way of Coon Club Road instead of Chatham Road because there was a National Guard halftrack buried on Chatham. It was a storm you don’t forget in a hurry.
Martha McMahon

Pushed by the wind
In January of 1978, I was a Medina city resident — a single parent of two teen sons. I took very seriously the warnings and descriptions of the advancing weather changes due for my 42nd birthday! Without looking into printed history of those January days, I’m remembering intensifying mentions of the very warm torrents of rain predicted as a forerunner to the fast-dropping temperatures. Radio and TV suggested preparations. We filled the car gas tank, got milk and bread. Then came the driving rain, as predicted. The boys and I had two vehicles parked out in the open apartment lot. I’d experienced frozen car doors before, so when the rain and stopped and the driving wind reached us with bone-chilling temperatures below 32 degrees and still dropping, I bundled up against the wind and went out. I went away from the protection of our building to open and slam each door on each vehicle, loosened the wiper blades, dried off the key locks, etc.
That accomplished, I then found the wind so strong I was unable to go back the way I had come. The wet parking lot pavement was rapidly icing over. The winds, as I learned later, were already tearing loose Public Square traffic lights within a nine-block radius of where I stood with only an open field and then woods in the direction the wind was pushing me — farther and farther from safety. As I scrambled and fell and scrambled again, my feet found the grass of the adjoining field and the soil still yielding to my weight. So I fought my way into the lee of the large building and then eventually to the building and was able to gain access by a rear stairs! I was home. I could then close the door against the noisy, cold fury of the still advancing snow.
Doris Ramey

Red Cross in action
The reality of the seriousness of the Blizzard of ’78 began with a phone call in our home in Hinckley Township from the Medina County Sheriff’s Department. As the director of the Medina County Chapter of the American Red Cross, the deputy informed me they had determined there was an immediate need to open a shelter for citizens and stranded motorists in and around the area. I informed the deputy the principal of Medina Junior High School, the late Paul Muha, had previously signed the agreement to use the school for a shelter in the event of an emergency, and to please contact him. The building is presently the county administration building. I questioned the deputy if I could get through to Medina by car and he said it may be risky, but there is one lane open that is plowed. Arriving at the chapter house on East Smith Road, the calls went out for disaster service volunteers, who made their way to the junior high. The chapter disaster team brought in cots and blankets, set up the area and took charge. The chapter reimbursed the school system for the food it provided during the emergency. Back at the chapter house, the most critical phone call came from an owner of a motel at Interstate 71 and state Route 18 for help as he was overcome with stranded travelers and the facility had no power. I reminded him if he had no power, his well-water system and septic system was not working and we immediately would contact the sheriff’s department, which had agreed to transport citizens in the emergency. The office learned the following day the late Mayor Gus Eble also had taken in blizzard victims, housed them at city hall and took them to breakfast at a nearby restaurant. I returned home a couple of days later, exhausted, but pleased and thankful for all the help of the volunteers of the area who pitched in during the Blizzard of ’78.
Jo Becks

A flying building
The morning of the big Blizzard of 1978, I got myself and my daughter ready to go to work and the baby sitter in this horrible weather. The baby sitter lived two houses down the road. I got in the sitter’s home and she said, “You’re crazy to go back out in this terrible storm.” But, I had to go to work. Out on Foskett Road, the wind was blowing and the snow was very bad. The roads were awful. I couldn’t see where the road was. I had gone only about half a mile and figured I’d better turn around and go back to the baby sitter’s and pick up my daughter. I did a U-turn in the road and back I went. I picked up my daughter and on Foskett Road in the middle of the road was a metal building. I got out of the car, and holding onto the bumper of the car, I touched the building and off it went, up, up into the air. I got back in the car and came home — very glad the Lord had kept us safe. In the house, the phone rang. It was my husband calling and telling me, “Do not go out in this awful weather.” Well, I had been out in this awful storm. Silly me.
Lucy Westover

Three days at work
At that time, my husband worked for the state of Ohio Department of Transportation on state Route 18. They called, saying to get into work. As he was getting ready and I was packing his lunch, we lost our power. The neighbor up the street had two big pine trees in their front yard come down, taking the power lines down and blocking the road. We had a daughter who was 6 months old at the time. I called my mother, who lived on the other side of town, to see if she had power. At that time, we didn’t know it was the neighbor’s trees that took the power out. My husband called work, saying he’d be there as soon as he got the two of us to my mother’s. While getting everything ready to take to my mother’s and getting our daughter bundled up, another state worker from town came to see if my husband wanted to ride into work with him. Lo and behold, he got his car stuck in our drive. After getting him unstuck, we headed for my mother’s with him following us. After arriving at my mother’s, my husband called work, saying they both were on their way. They told them to sit tight, as they had closed the highways. The next day, the state called, saying they had gotten state Route 94 open, so my husband headed into work. The state had set up cots for the workers to sleep in-between shifts. My husband remained at work for three days.
Bud and Wilma Bux