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From the Forest to the Shore, Connecticut, USA
March 12
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FEBRUARY 8, 2013 2:33PM

Being caught in a blizzard. Don't try this, ever.

Rate: 25 Flag

As I hunker down, for winter storm Nemo,  I remember the Blizzard of '78.  

My daughters would probably ask if was that eighteen or nineteen 78. Nineteen, thanks very much, girls. I was a 22 year old jock (the industry term for disc jockey or radio announcer) working for an AM/FM radio station in Portsmouth, NH. I worked the overnight shift from 12-6.

There were no blogs, Facebook, twitter, cell phones, personal computers, video games, CDs, GPSs, I-Pods, doppler radar, weather channel, or cable news network. There were no SUVs and very few cars with front wheel drive; I drove a 1976 Dodge Aspen. Snow was predicted and fell. Over the next 3 days up to 55 inches of snow fell in areas of Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Over two feet of snow fell on the coast of New Hampshire, with astronomically high tides, storm surge and beach erosion. It was a winter hurricane.

I knew it would snow when I left on the normally 45 minute ride from my house to the station, so I left early allowing time so I could take a nap before air time. I left at 6:30 pm. It would take over 4 hours to arrive at the radio station. I thought I might not make it. Deciding to bypass the back roads I normally take, for the interstate, I ventured into Massachusetts. The snow was heavier, but plows were out and I was making headway. The stretch of interstate 495 to New Hampshire border I was taking is 15 miles. It took me over an hour. Cars were off the road in the median buried up to their door handles. I traveled behind a snow plow going 15 mph., then he pull over to the shoulder. I think it was the shoulder, you couldn't tell where the lanes began or ended.

Determined I drove on. Through the Hampton Toll booth on interstate 95, where I was told by the officious toll booth attendant that the state had closed the road. Then she proceeded to charge me the 45 cents toll. On to the Portsmouth traffic circle exit, down route 1 to the K-Mart plaza that was adjacent to radio station. There were drifts at the parking lot entrance and I barreled through them at about 35 mph skidding across the deserted parking lot, and missing a couple light poles.

At the southeast end of the plaza lot lay the opening to the station parking lot . There hadn't been a plow there for hours. I shifted into low and gunned the engine and bulled my way  into the lot just missing the evening shift jock's car. I trundled up the steps and into the studio. It was 11:45 pm.

I relieved him and spent the next three days broadcasting six hours on ,six hours off. In the morning we stop broadcasting cancellations and started broadcasting what was open. It was a much shorter list. The high tide threatened to wash away our AM transmitter shack and tower. We could only rely on wire service reports; we had no TV at the station. People in the NH seacoast relied on us for news and information. Most had no power but battery transistor radios (another relic of the past).

Across route 1 was a Dunkin' Donuts that was open throughout the blizzard. They baked their own donuts and we lived on donuts and coffee for three days.  We trudged through the snow to retrieve sustenance.

Like the college student who gets  so sick after doing one too many tequila shooters and swears off tequila forever (and this time I mean it), the smell of a chocolate frosted honey dip donut made me mant to hurl after those three days coffee and donuts. It wasn't until 1982 or 83 that I ventured inside a Dunkin' Donuts again. I've been a steady customer since.

The dumb things we do when we're young and think we're invincible. I felt a commitment as a professional to get to the station. I was 22 years old. Ninety nine people died in that storm. I could have been number 100.

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"America Runs On Dunkin'... "
Personally, I'm glad you made it. ~r
I totalled my mother's car driving back from my job at AN ICE CREAM STORE in a blizzard. Knocked over a fire hydrant. Ten stitches in my head. Nineteen years old.
Thanks for this memory of days and doughnuts gone by.
I'm startin' to like Doughnut Holes - no Calories! R
What a great story. The blizzard you are referring to is the one that came from the Midwest, our famous blizzard was 35 years ago the last week of January. I was mostly intoxicated as a college junior drinking vodka with a little bit of orange juice in it. I was 20 and in a college dorm.
Was hanging right there with you then OS. I said this on another post "celebrating" the 35 yrs since our storm and how they'd called me into work. My husband said no...I said yes..he won. The staff had to stay in the hotel behind the restaurant when they shut the state down. I was 26 but still felt invincible. How you doing now your way? We're about 5 inches in here in our little part of the State. Be safe now! You're no spring chicken ya know! ;-)
For some mentally deficient reason I trudged across campus wearing a hooded sweatshirt jacket under a water resistant fall jacket and tennis shoes. I was a 19-year old MAN, therefore a god among useless kids and old farts (25 and older).
That is the storm that caused me and my new husband to leave Chicago and move to San Francisco. Brutal. And you were crazy. So glad you made it through.

God Bess Donuts! and Dopes! It snowed in Miami that year. I burned a memory chip with the image of me, standing on the dock of the [Biscayne] Bay, with my face to the sky and my slow brain registering s-n-o-w.
So glad you were not #100. Oh the crazy things we do when we think we are invincible.
oh, the dumbass things we did when we were young and invincible. or intractable. or just dumb. glad you made it, sheepie, even though you were on a donut diet for a while. worth it, prolly.

i was stuck in DC both times they had the Storm of the Century (??!!??) in the 'seventies and 'eighties. no power, no cell phones, no plows, no planes flying. crazy bad weather wins every time.
good luck and low gear ~
quite the cuento ~
I will never forget watching someone ski up the middle of Mass. Ave. in Cambridge. I will also never forget getting a special pass to go into Boston with my boyfriend because he was engineering at a radio station there. Small world, Sheepie.
You were a daring 22 year old. I would have been petrified. It's because of storms like that, actually any snow storm or temps under 75* that I moved to Orlando.
You're right that when we're younger we often seem determined to learn the hard way. Such bravado led me to experience a whiteout while driving.

I could see about 15 feet ahead and under those circumstances you have to guess at what speed everyone else would drive at. Too fast and you plow into the car in front. Too slow and you get crashed into.

It's ever tempting to pull over except once you've committed, if another car has had the same idea then you crash into it. Plus, you then become a target for anyone else doing the same and you have to wait it out till the storm passes. Eventually I found a roadside stop and went through a few coffees and donuts till it was safe to drive again. Scary stuff.
I had left NY that year for Washington, so missed that one. But I'm so proud of you for venturing back into that Dunkin Donuts.
This was great and remember' it is always time to make doughnuts' snow or not.
Well done OE and congrats on the EP.
Yeah. I lived in Somerville then. Walked down the middle of Mass Ave to get to the Porter Square Star Market, which was by then devoid of food. Good times.
My mom and all five of us siblings got caught in a bad storm between Texas and New Mexico, white out conditions, you could hear a pin drop we were all so terrified. Finally found a town and a hotel room waking to a buried station wagon in the morning. As scared by weather as I have ever been. I am so glad you were safe!
I was a teenager, so any memories of that storm are buried under blankets of bizarre moments when Mother Nature's wrath rendered me a thankful survivor.

The Blizzard of '66 is a whole nutha story!
Wow-great story! And it reminds me that radio can still be the only remaining lifeline when other technology fails.
yes, brave and foolish, and I am shuddering
all I can offer in return is stories of Caribbean hurricanes that sound like beasts prowling ready to tear your house down
(but I was hunkering down in my house, you were not)
Snowfalls there in North America seem to be sudden and hard.

I'm living in the area, where everything is covered by about 10 cm - 60 cm (1/3 feet - two feet) snow every winter about five months' time. You get used to it.
I drove back to Bowdoin from Hingham Harbor during that blizzard. Where my car was parked in Hingham wound up under about 3 feet of water. Bowdoin cancelled classes for the first time in its history, as I think I recall being told. Yes, the hubris of youth puts you in odd spots in hindsight. Now we have nothing to blame but our abject male meat headedness when doing things like shoveling roofs off after blizzards.
In the late 70s I had a VW Rabbit, which was front wheel. I passed a couple of hundred cars in a lake causeway to get to work. Found the curve where cars had stalled, and sailed through the curve at the EXACT speed necessary to get to work in my city. I wasn't as big a hero as you were, but I felt like one.