We all have stories from the Blizzard of 1978, whether we remember them or not.
Many readers shared their memories on The Lima News’ Facebook page on Friday night. They recalled tales of the extremely rare cancellation of school, snowmobiles driving emergency supplies to people and unusual pairings of families, friends and neighbors stuck in homes together, trying to survive the brutal winds that erased visibility and 10-foot drifts of snow.
My wife apparently needed a snow plow driver to lead an ambulance between Convoy and Van Wert after a young version of herself jumped off a bed and ripped part of her scalp to the point her mother could see the skull. Now she just has a slight scar as a reminder, in part thanks to a plastic surgeon trapped in the rural hospital during the storm.
I was just over 2 year old and don’t remember much. Luckily for me, my mother, Mary Ann Trinko, does.
She remembers waking up one morning to heavy winds blowing through our neighborhood, piles of snow and the power out. She recalls moving everyone into our family’s 9-by-12 foot kitchen, where my parents, my four older siblings, one sister who would’ve been six and a half months old and I remained for nearly five days.
And somehow, in between those stories about washing cloth diapers, putting coats on children to walk them to the bathroom while pouring bathwater down the frozen pipes of the toilet and realizing how important electricity was in their daily lives, I heard in my mother’s voice a fondness for the memories, particularly when it came to my dad, Don Trinko.
“He had a way of accomplishing something so you kids would remember it… not in a negative way,” my mom recalled. “Your Dad does things like that.”
That’s why he bundled up a couple sisters and walked up to the store to buy junk foods they generally didn’t have in the house. They loaded up on all the chips, pop, sausage wienies and even ice cream they could carry back on the quarter-mile walk to the grocery store, in addition to a few essentials my mom requested.
“He was going to make it an adventure for you guys,” Mom recalled.
He took the children outside for rides on a small snowplow they had. The older siblings played as many board games and put together as many puzzles as they could find in the house.
He’d turned on the faucets throughout the house, even once the cast-iron pipes froze, alleviating major damage when the pipes unfroze. He had them prepared with enough propane, food and batteries to keep his family safe.
They had each other in very close quarters. They had each other.
When I asked my dad about the Blizzard of ‘78, he mistook it for another storm a few years later, when he was stuck at work for a few days. As he said, Mom remembers those kinds of things better. He just remembers that we all survived.
“I really should go downstairs and tell your Dad thank you,” my Mom said after rattling off his efforts during the blizzard, which weren’t exactly the help washing cloth diapers she’d really wanted at the time. “I didn’t think about how well-organized he was during that time. Basically, your Dad was quite the hero during that storm.”