The GREAT Snowstorms of Our Lives

My heart is with those in New England right now. Be safe, snuggle in, and enjoy the beauty of it all.

When the weathermen warn us of a blizzard to come, the women rush to the grocery store, and dad’s, all over, head outside to clear drains, gutters, and check the roof. Children however, line up their mittens, multiple sets of socks, grease sleds, and dream of the snow to come.

My dad was promoted and took a job in Chicago. We had just settled into the ‘burbs when the Blizzard of ’67 hit. I was only about 5yrs old and The Great Blizzard is one of my first memories.
Historical news reports claim we received 23 inches of snow but the wind blew 50mph, creating 15′ drifts.
One of those monster drifts landed, as if by God’s hand, PERFECTLY, in front of our garage. I couldn’t believe my luck.
It was AWESOME sight through the eyes of a 3′ tall child.
We lived in a valley, and our house was high in the valley, with a long driveway.
We had a rose trellis on the side of the garage, and we figured out we could climb the rose trellis, pass up our sleds, and sled……. off the roof of the garage, all the way down the driveway.
It was like having my own roller coaster. Because I was the lucky kid who had the garage, God’s snowdrift, and the driveway, all the kids in the neighborhood ended up at our house. What a joyful day it was! Children don’t remember the cold. I do remember my mom made the biggest pot of tomato soup I had ever seen. There must have been 20 kids in the kitchen that day.
Of course, when we speak of snowstorms, husband lived through the Blizzard of ’78.
Husband is an EXPERT on the Blizzard of ’78 (according to him), and he regales me with odd stories of those 3-5 days at various points during our married life.
He was a senior in college at The College of The Holy Cross. Husband was Captain of the track team and they had a meet at Madison Square Garden. They knew the snow was coming so the team hurried back to campus, landing at a local pub. The pub was open when the snow started. Yet, by the time they left, there was 3’ of snow on the ground and they had to ‘skitch’ home.

There was no school for 4 days. Governor Dukakis was in his bunker ‘managing’ the crisis in what would be his first failure. Guys from husband’s dorm took a toboggan to a local brewery, loaded up kegs, and sold beer by the glass. Husband claims they made $1000 – net. Cars were abandoned and the boys dug out families homes and stranded motorists. Over 100 people died across New England during the Blizzard. Neighbors helping neighbors was urgent.

Closer to the coastline, in Hull, where we would buy a summer cottage a generation later, the center of the storm hit. Sustained winds hit 86mph and gusts to 111mph. Hull was cut off for 2 weeks. Hull forms a peninsula into Boston Harbor and is positively spectacular in the summertime. Yet, this winter “The Gut” was completely washed through by powerful waves. The hill at the end of what would be our street took the brunt of the storm as homes slid into the sea. My neighbor in Hull was a retired Greek opera singer and she kept a ‘food pantry’ stocked with delights. As she said, “Because you never know when another Blizzard will hit.” Those New Englanders are a staunch lot.

But nothing in our family’s collective history tops the Blizzard of ’42, which hit northern Illinois during wartime. I have a feeling, with the passage of time, our family story grew, just a little bit. According to Illinois historical timeline, the storm was the third worst in Illinois history, dumping 2′ of snow, 20′ drifts, and closing down Chicago.

Our family lived about 160miles west, on the banks of the Mississippi River, The Quad Cities of Illinois and Iowa, where it was worse (according to them). Hospitals and restaurants had to be dug out. Supplies were scarce because of the war. Neighbors who never spoke broke bread together to get through the storm.

The kids, however, never change. From 1942, to 1967, to 1978, and beyond, children love the snow. A blizzard presents a unique opportunity in the mind of a child. We can build igloos and pretend we are Eskimos. We can sled further, faster, and fly through the air. AND we can build Titans for snowmen.

Here’s a pic from the Blizzard of 1942.


The woman on the right in my grandmother. The little kid on the left, who built the Titan snowman (with help) is my dad. So, when the snow piles up this weekend, make a pot of tomato soup, drink a beer for some honorable college students, enjoy God’s snowdrifts, and revel at the beauty of it all. It will be gone, far too soon.


11 thoughts on “The GREAT Snowstorms of Our Lives

  1. Freely admit when I have been bested. This started as a Chick-Fil-A knock off recipe for their macaroni and cheese. I have altered it slightly.
    Had a dynamite Scratch Mac and Cheese recipe which was a family favorite for 30yrs.
    This one is better.

    This is exactly how I just made it. writing it down before I forget the details.
    Here we go:

    16oz of Elbow Macaroni, in boiling water until al dente. Cook with 1-2tsp of salt.
    Drain and dump into a lasagna pan coated with Pam. Place the large casserole on parchment paper lined ribbed cookie sheet for easy maneuvering.

    3TBSP butter
    1 1/2TBSP flour. Melt butter in a large 8qt pan. Cook the flour until toasty. Add 1tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, 1 heaping tsp dried mustard.

    Gradually stir in 2 Cups of Heavy Cream, and another 1 cup of 2% milk. Sauce will thicken slightly. Do not scorch.
    Add shredded cheeses….
    1 1/2lbs of American cheese, NOT Kraft singles. Buy the upgraded one from a good deli.
    1 Cup of an aged pricey Apple Smoked Cheddar.
    1/3cup fresh grated Parmesan.

    Pay attention to the pan and don’t scorch the cheeses.
    Add 4-5 cups of cooked chicken/ham if you like. Warm through, gently…
    Pour the sauce all over the macaroni and blend.

    Cover pan with aluminum foil and cook at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes. When bubbling in the middle, remove foil and dust top with 8oz of shredded COLBY cheese.
    Change oven to BROIL and run the casserole under the broiler until the COLBY cheese begins to brown slightly. Colby is a mix of mozzarella and cheddar – gives a nice melt.

    Absolutely stunning. The apple smoked cheddar taste comes through, but it is not overpowering as it would be if we only used that particular cheddar. The Deli American cheese is rich and creamy. The extra 1 cup of 2% milk takes a little bit of the fat out of the heavy cream and allows the macaroni to “soak up” the flavor.

    Killer recipe. The cheese sauce was so good my son licked the spatula. Definitely, this cheese sauce has multiple uses. Needs a broccoli or a green bean as an accompaniment.

    1. I make Macaroni and Cheese two ways:

      1. The way my Mother made it (South Carolina Style) which is basically a cheesy egg soufflé, made with milk and eggs salt and pepper, mixed with grated cheese (she used mild rat cheese that came in the big red wax wheel at the meat market) and folded in with cooked macaroni and baked in a dish with cheese on top. Unlike my folks, I add a layer buttered seasoned bread crumbs to keep the cheese from getting too crusty.

      2. The way my Mother in Law made it – with a white sauce made with a tablespoon of butter melted, add a tablespoon of flour, stir in a cup of milk and stir until it thickens, melt in a cup of good sharp cheddar and pour over cooked macaroni, put into a buttered flat casserole, top with buttered toasted seasoned bread crumbs, bake until golden and bubbly.

      Have never made or eaten boxed macaroni and cheese. I have bought Stouffer’s a couple of times and topped it with extra cheese and bread crumb topping and it’s OK.

  2. What are these “snowstorms” of which you speak?

    I guess this SoCal boy had better figure them out quickly….

    1. It might be like hail. When the sky throws rocks at you. Usually to the accompaniment of thunder and lightning

        1. Imma on the bird under an alias.
          This whole thing feels like the phoney war.
          Between dunkirk and d-day.
          To the onlooker nothing was happening but the war of the Atlantic was happening and spy networks , military equipment production was ramping up.

  3. 🤣🤣🤣 I was 2 in 67 and I domremember the blizzard in 78, that was a doozie. We had a 20 acre field in back of our house and the wind had blown the snow so high it was over my bedroom window on the second floor. I looked out the window to see how much snow we had and couldn’t really tell because our house was over 100 years old and the windows sucked, anywho when I opened my window I had a wall of snow in my face.
    Us boys ran downstairs and went out front and there was over three feet of snow, it was very awesome as a kid to experience this and silly me decided to climb out tv antenna tower and scoot across the roof to jump in the snow piled against the back of the house. That was a bad decision as I sunk in very deep when I dove off the roof, my dad kicked my butt for a long time over that stunt.

  4. I was 3 during the ’78 storm. Remember my Dad climbing out a window to be able to shovel out the front door. The teenaged girl next door and her friends made snow tunnels in their front yard. We played all day in them until their dogs started jumping around them and made them collapse. Always had decent snows in Md nack then. We have a dusting in Tn right now…

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