It’s one week after Winter Storm Hercules blew through and
Putnam County is switching from snow boots to duck boots, from polar
fleece-lined parkas to Carhartt jackets. I don’t believe that any of us
are putting our heavy duty gear in storage, though.
local talk over gas station coffee and donuts that compares last week’s
snowy freeze to the first storm of January 1978. Even if you weren’t on
the scene, you’ve probably heard talk of the second storm that buried
much of the eastern half of this country. If you were around, you might
even own one of those “I Survived the Blizzard of ‘78” T-shirts.
spent much of my childhood on Road 7L, halfway between Ottawa and
Pandora. The east side of the road was and still is wooded. When the
wind blows from the east, all is quiet. To the west, the ground is wide
open for miles. Nothing stops a west wind, or anything that it may be
carrying, other than a few landscaped houses.
In 1978, my parents
were both school teachers. Dad made it home from Elida when the first
round of snow fell. School closed early so the bus dropped me off at the
mailbox before drifting made that impossible for several weeks. Mom
left school from Archbold and made it as far as the Ottawa IGA. When she
carried her groceries to the car, she found that so much snow had
packed in under the vehicle’s hood that it wouldn’t start. She shared a
room with two other women at the Schnipke Inn. The next day, my grandpa
made it to town to pick her up in his farm truck. He was able to get as
far as the corner of Roads 7L and O. Mom, a tiny person, plowed through
hip-high snow for a mile along Cranberry Run to make it the rest of the
Mom said she thought she was going to die during that
morning trek. Some people didn’t survive the blizzard of 1978. When my
child was small, I took a writing job in Fort Wayne. My fellow public
relations staff members told me stories of meeting stranded motorists on
State Route 30, people who were found cold and still inside their cars
during the post storm dig out.
In 1978, the Pandora Times
newspaper ran two photos which made it into my scrapbook. One features
my dad and me digging my parents’ cars out of the snow, from the roof
down. The second, taken in May, shows a large snow drift at the base of
the hill above the Road M6 bridge over Riley Creek, one of the last snow
deposits to melt in the county, according to Editor Don Schneck.
did some digging last week. The donkey removed his blankets on
Wednesday, three layers of blankets that I had wrapped him in on Monday.
The township’s plows piled six-foot banks of snow along 7L, snow that
Hercules’ west wind blasted all the way east from State Route 65. The
Blanchard River rose a bit and is on its way down. The school make-up
day schedule is printed in this newspaper.
We’ll be OK, even if
the coffee klatch is correct and this storm is a practice run for
February. The big difference between now and 1978 is that our storms are
named after superheroes and mythological characters. We can track a
villainous polar vortex not just on our TVs but also on our home
computers and even our phones. Our wireless weather forecasters smack a
little of game show hosts.
“He got his start at roughly 66.5
degrees north latitude, picked up a little steam in Canada and is
starting to cause a sensation in the U.S. of A. He’s coming to your
town. Let’s all raise our voices for today’s guest, Winter Storm
Makes me want to pull up to a drive-thru and shout, “Captain, I’m hit, I’m hit!” just to get in character.