Monday, February 21, 2011

Blizzard of 66' Remembered

Daily News Managing Editor Mark Graczyk writes the column, "Mark My Words".  A recent column discussed The Blizzard of 1966.  It brought back many memories.

If the Blizzard of 1977 was the ''mother'' of Western New York snowstorms, the Blizzard of 1966 was her formidable older sister.
I've always thought that the blizzard of 66' was worse than 77'.  It hit over night.  I woke to hear my 4 year old son, J.D., say to his sister, "I can't see Decker's house.".  He was referring to the house directly across the street.  3 year old Sue answered back, "I can't see it.".
That was enough for me to check out what they were talking about.  Sure enough, the wind drifted the snow over our porch roof and covered the windows.  Not only could they not see Decker's house, they couldn't even see out the windows.
It wasn't long after that when my next door neighbor called.  We both had infants.  As a matter of fact, between the two houses we had a total of 10 children.  She asked if we could get out our front door.

On Sunday, Jan. 30. Heavy squalls and fierce winds overspread the area. What became known as The Blizzard of 1966 had arrived.
I checked the front door only to discover that the drifting snow filled in the front porch.  There was no way we could exit out that door.  While we talked, I checked the fridge and cupboard.  While I had some things stocked away, I knew we would need milk.  So would they.  She said she called the corner store and arranged to buy milk, eggs, and bread from them.  The store wasn't open, but they agreed to sell us what we needed if we could get there. 
Her teenage son was our hero.  He climbed out a window to the side door sidewalk then snowshoed to the store and brought back supplies to last us a few days. 

More than a foot of new snow had fallen Sunday and Monday and wind gusts up to 50 miles per hour created drifts of five to six feet on some roadways. Snowplows fought a mostly losing battle to keep them open. Highway department crews worked virtually around the clock, spending the night at the Mill Street garage or the Genesee County Jail
Our street was just behind Main St.  We could hear the plows fighting that losing battle.  It was obvious that our side street wouldn't see a plow for a few days. 

By Tuesday, Feb. 1, conditions had improved slightly, but schools and most businesses remained closed as crews ''punched holes'' through most highways to make them passable. Two New York Central trains were secured to transport stranded travelers back to their homes or their chosen destinations.
 Conditions also improved enough so sidewalks and driveways could be shoveled.  We still couldn't leave our street for a few days until the city plows finally got to us.  The front yards, on that street, are small.  Trying to find someplace to put the shoveled snow was an exercise in creativity. When we did get out, we marveled at the large banks of snow on either side of any street or road. We were driving through tunnels.

Perhaps the Blizzard of 77 was worse, but the kids were older and two of them were stranded at my parents' home.  That will be a story they can tell their children and grandchildren.  We, at home, were far more prepared than we were in 66' .  The kids and I had been at the grocery store that morning shopping for a birthday dinner for their father.  We stopped at mom's for lunch, the two older ones staying while I brought the little ones home for their nap.
The storm hit shortly after we got home.  
I was putting away the groceries when I heard Eric say to Bill, "I can't see Decker's house.".
Isn't that where I started this story?

You can read the entire story at: