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This winter is nothing compared to when we were kids

February 16, 2010 - Art Smith
By now it is safe to say most people are sick of the winter.

School children have been stuck at home for what seems like the better part of a month, the drive to work for many has become a daily adventure and it seems the snow is just going never to end.

As bad as it seems, it’s nothing if one consider how bad the winter of 1977 -78 was.

“When I was your age” is a favorite statement of parents everywhere. In the case of bad winters I think we have the youths of today beat.

Let’s take a look at the winter that truly seemed like it was never going to end.

First a blizzard struck the area on Jan 26 effectively shutting the region down for the next five days. It was the worst storm in Ohio history and was so bad the National Guard was activated to open roads and rescue people. In all, 51 people died in the storm in Ohio alone.

It was cold. Really cold. For a time the temperature dropped into the teens, the MINUS teens.

The movement of natural gas was so difficult  authorities shut most of the schools. Schools in Columbus were shut for a month. Eventually the Ohio River froze to a degree that has not been seen since. The difficulty of moving coal on the rivers led to a call to conserve electricity.

I recall making the best of it. Sports team used the extra time to practice and condition. I remember a marathon winter hike in the Wayne National Forest as part of crew practice; I likely made a few extra bucks working at my part-time job.

Those stuck at home today have more ways to stay entertained than we did.

Remember, in 1978 our televisions had 12 channels and most of them were filled with soap operas. The Internet was still decades from being a household “utility” and video games, even crude ones, were still a few years away.

Today at least there are more ways to stay connected with your friends. Skype, for instance, allows kids you use the built in Web-cameras to not only talk to their friends, but see them as well. They are also free to text non-stop and of course talk on the ever-present cell phones. I have actually witnessed all three occurring at the same time. The youth of today are truly remarkable.

On Facebook, the social networking site created for the youth but now being overrun by aging baby boomers, a group has formed called “This winter may be bad, but I survived the blizzard of '78”. In a few short weeks it has grown to include more than 39,502. It’s filled with memories of the winter of all winters, which now filtered through the passage of time, are mostly positive.

Here are a few. Click on the above link to read more.

Gayle Dench Green I had a newborn and we did fine until we ran out of toilet paper! That was the year the Ohio River froze in Cincinnati!

Karon Brunner I remember walking down the middle of the street with my husband and daughter Robin to go to the store, you couldn’t drive anywhere!

Glynis Taylor The cars were covered in the driveway and we climbed them like they were mountains and sled off of them! That was the best two weeks out of school! What fun as a kid! Does anyone have pictures to post? I have seen somewhere the snow was to the top of the T at the electric poles!!

Greg Humphrey I was working at Salem Mall in charge of changing the marquee in front that you normally had to climb a 10-foot ladder to get up to. Just walked right up the frozen snow bank to put the words "MALL CLOSED" on it... My old boss had to drive 25 miles to pick me up to do it, ended up helping plow snow and had a great time! Did we even miss a day of school?

Yea kids, I think we had it a little rougher when we were your age.


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Snow half way up windows and frozen rivers were common during the winter of 1977-78. Photos from the Facebook group “This winter may be bad, but I survived the blizzard of '78”


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