Letters to ...

Ah, memories -- The Blizzard of '78

... thoughts from Joyce Bottenberg and Bob Harvey

By Joyce Bottenberg, once of Melrose

Just got a wonderful note from ol' colleague Don Norris in Melrose. We'd worked together at the Melrose Free Press during the late 1960s when Dorothy Raymond was editor.

Also just received the 1/31 issue of the Melrose Free Press with its front page story about the Blizzard of 2005.

Somehow, I think the Blizzard of 1978 was more dramatic for us, with everyone 'cept rescue workers staying home and eating from their pantry storage, not allowed to drive, but having plenty of electricity and heat. Driving was forbidden as roads needed cleaning and there was no place to put the snow but lift it and dump it in the ocean.

I remember well the Blizzard of 1978 as I was serving as the Melrose Red Cross executive director working on-the-hour with the Police civil defense director and on the half hour with our disaster chairman, Ron Hordon, to coordinate assistance to Melrose area residents. During that week of no driving for most people, the emergency workers and the Red Cross were on wheels and providing assistance to thousands of residents, oftentimes just driving them home from the grocery stores where the shelves were nearly empty, yet residents had bought what they could to make do for the week. The REACT volunteers (4-wheel drivers with CB radio capability) were part of our rescue workers and provided hundreds of hours of assistance while I manned the radios at the chapter house (786 Main Street). We had a shelter set up at the Armory and I remember handling meals, including the offer of fresh lobsters! The Red Cross was very much "neighbor helping neighbor" on-the-job during blizzard and the cleanup weeks following, as it is 24/7.

Weather has been mild this season in the northwest where my family has lived since '85. Dad - Bob Harvey - lives with us now, just turning 89 this week. He wore his Scout uniform to church this morning - he's been 77 years in Scouting, including earning his Eagle, the Silver Beaver, and the Wood Badge.  He's on the District Council now. He still drives, plays bridge at the Senior Center twice a week, swims at the community pool, enjoys Masons and Eastern Star, and plays bingo every chance he can. He's also continuing with his stamp collection, hooking rugs, jigsaw puzzles, and reading. He had a pacemaker installed in mid-January, so he's ever more the Energizer Bunny.

What about those Patriots! Wow! What a year with Red Sox and Patriots. It's time for the Celtics to get back on top, right?

Joyce Harvey (Singleton) Bottenberg
Sammamish, Washington

Joyce Bottenberg
425-391-1394 tel/fax

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