I was thirty-one at the time of the blizzard of 1978. I was working at Tilden-Thurber in downtown Providence Tuesday through Saturday (the days the store was open). I was also taking a course at the URI extension near the State House, in the old RICE (Rhode Island College of Education) and the old Henry Barnard School building. My class met on Monday mornings and this was the last class I needed before graduation in May. When I left URI at about 11am, it had just started to snow; by the time I was crossing the George Washington Bridge on my way home to East Providence, there was already an inch of snow on the ground. By the time I got to the area of Pawtucket Avenue where my street was located, there were two inches of snow on the ground. My parents and I were snowed in all week. We lived on a dead-end street, so we were one of the last streets to get plowed. One couple who lived across the street were snowed in at their offices in downtown Providence for two days. Another neighbor who worked in Lincoln got stuck mid-afternoon on the interstate trying to get home, ended up spending Monday night at a shelter while his car was buried in snow on the interstate, and then on Tuesday he walked home from Providence, a distance of about six miles.
The blizzard created problems for URI's graduation plans for May. Because there was no school for a week, it meant that classes had to run an extra week at the end of the schedule. Normally, they had ten days between the end of exams and graduation to figure out who had completed the requirements for graduation, but because of the additional week of school in May, they only had three days between exams and graduation. They weren't able to postpone graduation by a week to compensate, because speakers had been invited, plans had been made, etc. Normally, any student who didn't meet all the requirements for graduation in May couldn't participate in any part of graduation, but the school officials didn't have time to find out who could legitimately participate, so they let anyone who had a chance of graduating participate in the program. What they did, however, was to change the practice of handing out degree certificates at the graduation ceremony. All I got at the ceremony was an empty padded cover; a couple of weeks after graduation, I got my actual degree certificate in the mail.
I moved to Maine the following September. Since then, I've experienced Maine's Ice Storm of 1998; in some ways it was worse than the blizzard because I was without electricity for about four days in January, which affected my heat, lights, and hot water.
How many remember the Blizzard of '78 board game? It had a two-sided board, the sunny side and the snowy side. The object was to get to five locations (grocery store, bank, etc.) and then get home. You started on the sunny side until someone would draw a "blizzard" card from the chance pile, and then you'd flip the board over to the snowy side. Getting around on the snowy side was a lot harder because the squares had a lot of hazards that would cause you to slow down, miss turns, etc. I still have my copy of the game.
Received via email, October 23, 2007, and October 31, 2008.