THE BIG ONE: THE BLIZZARD OF 1978 – by GARRY ARMSTRONG

This is the time of year when big snowstorms hit this region. Thirty-nine years ago, a large winter storm began moving into eastern Massachusetts. On the afternoon of Feb. 6, 1978, thousands of people were let out of work early so they could get home before the storm.

High winds and a high tide along the shore did enormous damage

High winds and a high tide along the shore did enormous damage

Traffic was typically heavy. Snow began falling at more than an inch per hour and continued to fall for more than 24 hours. Soon more than 3,000 automobiles and 500 trucks were stranded in rapidly building snowdrifts along Rt. 128 (also Route 95).

Jack-knifed trucks and drifting snow soon brought traffic to a complete standstill everywhere. Fourteen people died from carbon monoxide poisoning as they huddled in trapped cars.


There are so many incredible scenes that remain clear in my memory from the great Blizzard of 1978.

I was smack dab in the middle of it from the beginning as one of the few reporters who could get to the station without a car. I lived just down the street and was able to slog through the snow to the newsroom. I found myself doing myriad live shots across Massachusetts and other parts of New England.

Seen from above, the daunting amount of snow residents had to dig through to get to their cars is apparent on Farragut Road in South Boston on Feb. 8, 1978. New England was hit by a blizzard with hurricane-force winds and record-breaking snowfalls the previous two days.

Seen from above, the daunting amount of snow residents had to dig through to get to their cars is apparent on Farragut Road in South Boston on Feb. 8, 1978. New England was hit by a blizzard with hurricane-force winds and record-breaking snowfalls the previous two days.

I would like to give a special shout out to my colleagues who ran the cameras, the trucks, set our cable and mike lines, kept getting signals when it seemed impossible and worked nonstop under the most dire and difficult conditions. All I had to do was stand in front of the camera or interview people. I recall standing in the middle of the Mass Turnpike, the Southeast Expressway, Rt. 495 and other major arteries doing live shots.

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There was no traffic. There were no people. Abandoned vehicles littered the landscape. It was surreal. Sometimes it felt like Rod Serling was calling the shots. The snow accumulation was beyond impressive. I am (or was) 5 foot 6 inches. I often had to stand on snow “mountains” to be seen. My creative camera crews used the reverse image to dwarf me (no snickering, please) to show the impressive snow piles. No trickery was needed. Mother Nature did it all.

Downtown crossing right after the storm

Downtown crossing during the storm

Downtown Boston looked like something out of the cult movie “The World, The Flesh And The Devil”. The end of the world at hand. No motor traffic, very few people — just snow, as high and as far as the eye could see.

Ironically, people who were usually indifferent to each other became friendly and caring. Acts of generosity and compassion were commonplace, at least for a few days. Those of us working in front or back of the camera logged long hours, minimal sleep. Drank lots of coffee, ate lots of pizza, and intermittently laughed and grumbled. There are some behind the scenes stories that will stay there for discretion’s sake.

The Blizzard of ’78 will always be among the top stories in my news career. It needs no embellishment. The facts and the pictures tell it all. We have since had deeper snowstorms, but none which packed the punishing winds and extensive damage as that monumental storm.

One more thing. It needs no hype or hysteria.


POSTSCRIPT

And, as if in answer to this post, New England makes it’s own comment. Beginning tonight and for the next 48 hours, we’re expecting a foot (+ or – who knows how much) snow — with daytime temperatures in the mid 20s (-3 Celsius) — much lower at night. It’s that time of year again. February is the cruelest month, no matter what any poet says to the contrary.

SUNNY DAY IN AUTUMN – PATHS

Photo Challenge | Path


The thing about paths is that they contain a mystery. You are on the path, but you cannot see your destination. Over the hill or around the next curve lies the unknown.

Sunny autumn day in Vermont

As we continue up over the hill or deeper into the woods, atavistic memories of fairy tales and myths assault us. The “little people” — are they watching? We will discover that other dimension that runs parallel to our own? It could happen. Anything could happen when you are on the path.

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Who can resist a path? Who can say no when the unknown beckons?

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I participate in WordPress' Weekly Photo Challenge 2016

I participate in WordPress’ Weekly Photo Challenge 2016

THREE CHEERS FOR THE FOUR SEASONS by ELLIN CURLEY

It’s getting cold in Connecticut. The winter is late in coming this year, but now it’s definitely here. My husband is mourning the end of the warm weather. He is also missing his boat, which we just took out of the water to be shrink wrapped for winter.

On the other hand, I’ve just happily switched my closet from summer to winter clothes. I’m actually looking forward to wearing my favorite sweaters. I love boots and I feel very fashionable when I can wear high boots over my jeans. Another thing I look forward to in winter is coats and scarves. I have a terrific wardrobe of colorful, textured scarves, many purchased at craft shows over the years.

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I love the variety of clothing the seasons provide. I’d get sick of wearing the same clothes all year. If I lived in Florida or California, in order to get variety, I’d probably spend a fortune each year buying clothes. Now I spend very little on clothes because the four seasons (really three – winter summer and in between) give me ample variety in my wardrobe.

Another reason I don’t mind winter – once you put on your beautiful outerwear, you’re not cold outside. People talk about the horrors of winter as if you had to go outside everyday wearing nothing more than your pajamas! Snow is wonderful if you’re dressed to play in it and enjoy its beauty.

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I have to confess that I am not a heat lover. In fact, I get physically ill in severe heat. For me, it’s worse when it’s very hot than when it’s very cold. I can’t protect myself from the heat outside by removing layers of clothing. I can only go down to tee-shirt, shorts, or a bathing suit without getting arrested for indecent exposure. If I’m still roasting in those outfits, I’m screwed.

But in winter, you can always put on more sophisticated winter wear. For example, you can put on ski clothes and go out and ski down a mountain in the freezing cold.

So I dislike the heat and can stay warm in cold weather.

What else do I like about the seasons? The variety itself enhances my life. I appreciate spring and summer because I been through fall and winter. I don’t take green trees and flowers for granted because I live through colored leaves, bare trees, and the winter wonderland of snow-covered landscapes. I wouldn’t want to live in winter all year any more than I’d want to live in summer full-time.

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For the three months winter lasts, I appreciate it. We love the fires in the hearth on winter nights. Tom and I enjoy our Jacuzzi more in winter. Friends seem to have more time to come over and hang out in the winter, maybe because they’re not outside doing whatever they do in summer. Like playing golf, swim, take long walks, go on hikes, work in their gardens, and all that outdoorsy stuff.

I’m also lucky because I love where I live. I don’t dream of moving somewhere else. If I did, it would probably be to another place with four seasons. I just can’t imagine a life without watching the leaves turn red, yellow and orange in Autumn. I can’t imagine a life without getting to watch grass grow, flowers bloom and leaves suddenly burst out on trees. Every single year. I can’t imagine everything in my environment staying the same year in and year out.

I’m happy dealing with a world that changes. And now, it is changing again. Winter has arrived … with the promise of spring to come.

WHICH WAY: IT’S THAT HOLIDAY TIME OF YEAR!

Cee’s Which Way Photo Challenge – November 30, 2016


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Boston Common just before Christmas – Photo: Marilyn Armstrong

This time of year, going anywhere can be hazardous to your health, mental and physical. Everyone who has a driver’s license takes it out of the drawer, dusts it off, and hits the road. The weather is dicey. The drivers are not necessarily sober and way too many of them are using a mobile device instead of paying attention to the road.

Uxbridge common at night, before Chirstmas - Photo Garry Armstrong

Uxbridge common at night, shortly before Christmas – Photo Garry Armstrong

So be careful. Be safe. Be smart. Drive defensively. You may know what you are doing, but who know about those other drivers?

Past meets present - Photo by Garry Armstrong

Past meets present – Photo by Garry Armstrong

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In the middle of our small town – Photo: Marilyn Armstrong

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A yellow school bus – Photo: Garry Armstrong

Cee which way photo challenge

IT’S THAT TIME OF YEAR … ALMOST …

WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: It’s Not This Time of Year Without …


It’s can’t be almost winter without hysterical predictions of apocalyptic weather on the nightly news. As a rule, these predictions amount to either nothing or at most, a dusting. The ones they do not predict, when they say one to three inches, watch out. Because a blizzard is about to bury you to your chin …

Welcome to “that time of year” in New England!

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I participate in WordPress' Weekly Photo Challenge 2016

I participate in WordPress’ Weekly Photo Challenge 2016

TIME AFTER TIME: INDIAN SUMMER IN OUR VALLEY – GARRY ARMSTRONG

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Past and future – on a bicycle …

The bicycle thief? Just a fleeting thought as a man peddles by. A brief interlude in busy traffic on this street. He’s caught in a time warp, sandwiched between murals of traffic on the same street. Another century, another warm November day, perhaps a more innocent time.

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It’s a day to suspend angst over the state of our nation. Mother Nature gives us a reason to smile, to laugh, to enjoy the bounty of our beautiful valley.

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The air around the dam is sweet. So sweet you almost want to reach down and cup your hands for a taste of the water that shimmers in energy and grace.

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The water level is a good sign. Especially good when you consider droughts in other parts of the country.

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The dam and the surrounding acreage are gifts from others. People who had the foresight and courage to plan for the future against the heavy-handed politics of their peers who sought quick benefits from the land.

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Sometimes we complain that long time residents are too stuck in the past, prisoners of a “Pleasantville” state of mind. On this day, we’re reminded of why we should treasure nature’s bounty.

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Idle conversation with strangers is relaxed. All is good for an hour that should be preserved for whatever the immediate future has in store for us. Even the late afternoon traffic seems less stressful from our vantage point. Politeness is in the air.

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Past and present seem to be bonding as we look around. We could be in a real life 1940’s MGM Technicolor movie about small town life. It’s good to be alive on a day like this.

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Print it! We have a take!!