Scituate, Rhode Island

37 years ago, today:

Day One
Carrying Route 28—Elmgrove Avenue—Sessions Street—Freeman Parkway

The snow is packing on the roads and I've only seen one plow truck all day. I finish the route, though, and start back to the office, but people are already abandoning their cars on Lloyd Avenue, the hill at Moses Brown. I put the tire chains on the '67 VW bus and make it to 201 Meeting Street. I figure I'll wait until the rush hour is over to start for home.

Vehicles trapped in snow, 1978
Trapped vehicles on Providence's East Side. (Alfredo Esparza, February 1978).

At 5pm we lock up the office and Dave Kenny says he will ride with me to the bus for Gaspee Point. We each take a key to the office. We get to Veteran's Square and things are now at a stand-still, so Dave walks to Exchange Place to catch his bus (he made the last bus to Warwick). I get as far as the railroad overpass and can see that things have completely stopped at the rotary in front of the State House. I leave the VW bus under the railroad bridge and, taking a blanket I had, head back to the shelter of the P.O. and Meeting street. Climbing college hill, the snow is now over my knees and by the time I get to Olive Street the drifts are chest deep. I let myself into the office and turn up the heat, then call my wife in Scituate to tell her I won't make it home tonight. I ask her to tell my brother that if he is out plowing with Butchy on the East Side to let me know and I'd try to connect with them. McDonald's is still open on Angell Street and I go get some "fast food."

I make myself a bed of clean Number 1 sacks and put out the lights. At midnight the phone rings and I hurry down to the workroom floor and answer it, maybe it is my brother. No, it is a woman from Everett Avenue complaining that she didn't get any mail and that it took her five hours to get home from Quonset. I stand there in my underwear and listen to her complain, apologize, and go back to my makeshift bed.

The storm rages outside and the Brown University students are hooting and hollering having a great time.

A few seconds of 8mm film from the Rhode Island Historical Society WJAR Collection:

Day Two
I'm awake at 5am I wash and dress as the phone begins to ring with people calling to say they can't make it to work. I have a little fun with them by replying, "Well I'm from Scituate and I'm here," without revealing that I had spent the night. I find an orange, make coffee, and there are a few oatmeal cereal samples around, so I have breakfast of sorts. A Brown University security guard has been on patrol all night and is cold and wet; Brown has reduced steam output at its plant to conserve fuel, dropping the temp in their buildings to 55. I let him into the lobby and he dries his gear on the radiators, thanking me for the hospitality. The Main Office calls and orders me to NOT let anyone into the building, but I consider my guest a special case. I get our snow shovel and work my way around from the side door to the front and shovel out the collection box and the driveway. During the night the students created an eight-foot snow ball, rolling it down Meeting Street hill, and it is now sitting across of our office. Also someone has stolen our flag during the night.

By 11am, Ralph A., the station manager, walks from Wayland Square, where he spent the night at a friend's, and we start to think about lunch and how we are going to get home. The Brown security guard tells us we can get a meal at the cafeteria in Andrews Hall, across from the P.O. later in the afternoon. We think it will be a "free-bie" but find it is $5 for a small portion of mediocre chicken supper, but better than nothing. That night I return to my pile of Number 1 sacks and Ralph sleeps in a chair in his office. Thus ends day two.

Day Three
We awaken to a bright, clear, cobalt blue sky and a day that promises to be full of sunshine as people emerge from forced hibernation. More oatmeal samples and coffee to start the day, and Ralph calls his brother at the Providence Police Station. Billy is a detective with the Juvenile Division and says if we can get to the station on Fountain Street he can get us a ride to their mother's house in the Manton section of the city. We start out shortly after 9am and walk in places or tracks of others to the bus tunnel off Thayer Street. We find the tunnel full of abandoned cars and a bus, but make our way to the bottom of College Hill, and I go check on my VW bus, which is OK except for a flat tire. I put a note under the windshield wiper hoping to avoid a towing that I'm sure would happen eventually, if I don't get back to move it.

At Police Headquarters things are as normal as they can be, and we wait for a car to take us up Atwells Avenue which is open one car wide of rutted snow. When we get to Valley Street I get out and start toward Olneyville Square. The square is a mess of abandoned cars and buses, with a track from National Guard vehicles meandering through it. A jeep passes me but doesn't bother to stop or ask me my business, nor does it offer the ride I had hoped for. The warmth of the sun has softened the track and it makes walking difficult as I travel west on Plainfield Street.

When I get to the foot of Neutaconkanut Hill, at Duxbury Street, I am surprised to see the road is plowed down to bare pavement and almost gutter to gutter wide! Easy walking now and the state truck passes me several times as he continues to push back the snow little by little. This guy should have gotten a medal for his efforts! At the Thornton cross road with Atwood Avenue I catch a short ride up the hill with my oilman and then back afoot to Route 116 and Waterman Drive in Scituate, all on bare pavement. My gang is glad to see me and I'm up for a sandwich and a nap, it is about 2:00 in the afternoon and I've traveled about fifteen miles. So ends day three.

Fred, a former Providence postal carrier, posted these accounts on Facebook on February 6, 7, and 8, 2015. They are reprinted here with his permission.

Wed, 02/09/2022 - 21:47