I was 20 years old when the blizzard of '78 hit MA..
I was living in Taunton MA,one of the areas that got walloped with at least 36" of wet cement snow,60+ mph winds,over a 3 day period..Taunton is about 30 miles from Woonsocket RI and 25 from Providence,and 15 miles from Plymouth MA,to give you an idea of its location..
I was at a friends house in Fall River MA ,that is on the south coast,15 miles south of Taunton,when it began snowing..
I had a 1956 Chevy 3100 pickup truck at the time..235 straight six,three on the tree,and only 2wd..it was not that great in snow!..
My friends dad came out and told us I had better think about heading home,the snow was piling up very quickly,and I'd likely have to take the back roads ,because the highway was already blocked by several crashes involving tractor trailer !..
He said he had some tire chains I could have--a guy who hired him to do some brick laying work stiffed him,ended up "paying" him by giving him a huge cardboard barrel full of brand new tire chains in burlap sacks that he claimed were worth much more than the amount he was supposed to pay in cash..
I drove my truck into his garage and we found a pair that fit my tires,had to shorten them up a bit..my tires were old bias ply snow treads,they had deep tread but were hard as iron,so they were not the greatest for traction in snow.
By the time we got the chains on and tightened up ,there was 6" of snow on the ground,it took only an hour to install them..I took a box of "Monkey Links" with me in case a chain broke on my ride home..
It took me almost 2-1/2 hours to go the 15 miles home!..top speed was about 10 mph in second gear,and I got stuck behind many vehicles that slid into the ditches and blocked the road,but I managed to get around them all...one street I had to take has a short steep hill,I had to back up twice and make a run at it to get to the top,my truck was sliding sideways all the way up..
When I got home,I made a stupid move..instead of parking the truck right near the street at the end of the driveway,facing the street--I pulled it all the way in to the far end of the driveway,facing IN..this proved to be a very dumb move!..
After the storm started dying down 3 days later,all I could see of my truck was the roof,from the door handles up..the bed & hood were buried under a huge drift--and the depth of the snow was that deep all the way to the end of the driveway,110 feet to the street..
A week long "driving ban" was put in effect by the govenor,so no one was going anywhere anyways..then city officials began asking for anyone with a 4x4 or snowmobile to volunteer to help rescue people,deliver food & medicines,and check on elderly residents..
My friend from Fall River had two snowmobiles,a Rupp 440,and an old Ski-Doo one lunger..he was among many that helped the police and fire dept deliver goods and run errands for people..another friend used the Ski-Doo also..
Four days after the storm ended ,the state was still buried and digging out--thousands of abandoned cars were left on Rt.128,making a hopeless mess as far as any plows being able to clear the highway..they had to have the National Guard come with 6x6 military trucks and front end loaders and bull dozers to rescue stranded motorists and move one car at a time to clear the roads!..most of the streets in my town had to be cleared with dozers ,even road graders were unable to move the deep drifts..
They also had Walter Snowfighters come from RI and Boston's Logan airport to clear the biggest drifts...many buried cars got chewed up!--they were invisible under the snow..
I went with my friends on their snowmobiles to do more deliveries--they actually drove them right up Rt.24 from Fall River to my house,15 miles away,and we went back there using the same route..we were able to drive right over buried cars,all you could see was radio antennas poking up thru the drifts,to tell where a car was!..there were a lot of tractor trailers stuck too,some jack knifed and blocked both lanes,making snow removal a very tough chore too..some motorists spent days in their cars waiting to be rescued..
My friends and I made a lot of "bread & milk" runs for people,and we delivered a lot of prescriptions to elderly projects in Fall River...the only store that had any food left was 15 miles away near New Bedford,and finding gasoline was tough,most of the stations had no power,and the pumps were useless..luckily we were able to get some from people who had some stashed away for their snowblowers,and the police let us fill up at the town DPW garage ,where they gassed up the cruisers..we even siphoned gas from some abandoned cars,having no choice too!..
My dad worked for a local LNG & natural gas company,and the day the storm hit,he was driving a C-60 Chevy 2 ton bucket truck with an air compressor in tow--he was headed to Springfield MA,where the compressor was needed badly--he only made it as far as Framingham MA,about 70 miles from Springfield,Rt.128 was blocked hopelessly by stuck tractor trailers and cars--he had to stay in the truck for 36 hours before a 6x6 troop carrier finally was able to reach the area and take him to a hotel 10 miles away--where he had to stay for 4 days,until the roads had been opened up to one lane and the driving ban was lifted..
It took me and 3 of my neighbors to shovel the end of the driveway out--the dozers had left piles of snow over 6 feet high along both sides of the street,and the pile extended about 25 feet into the driveway..we spent 2 whole days shoveling,and the area we finally cleared was barely far enough into the driveway for my dad's station wagon that he usually drove for a company car,to park,without the back bumper sticking out into the street!..
He tried having the gas company come plow the driveway with another C-60 bucket truck,but it only made it about 35 feet past where we shoveled before the snow piled up in front of it deep enough to stop it--it had chains on the rear dual wheels,and the driver spun the tires trying to back it out--they dug deep divots in the driveway--40 years later,they are still there!...
That left my truck even more hopelessly buried--now I had a pile of snow as long and tall as the truck I'd have to move in order to free it...my dad ended up hiring the contractor who built the house,to come with a front end loader to clear the driveway..
That blizzard still remains "the" one that tops all the others we've had since..
Though we have had a few that dumped as much or more snow,in less hours time,the combination of hurricane force winds,a full moon high tide,and the long duration,all added up to the most destructive storm MA had ever seen in our lifetimes..
Nearly 100 people died,and dozens of homes along the east coast were washed away,or badly damaged,and there was incredible flooding..ever since that storm,everyone makes a mad dash to the grocery and liquor stores to "stock up" ..wood stoves made a strong comeback after that storm too--many of those who perished froze to death,or drowned ,some in their own homes..