Throwback Thursday: A Winter Storm Worth Missing Work For

This week’s storm has nothing on the events of another February 6 in Boston.

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Image of the November 18, 1978 Sarasota Herald-Tribune

Contrast this recent snowstorm with that from another February 6 in Boston.

This morning, the Globe describes yesterday’s surprisingly empty streets and sparse workplaces. All that hubbub “for 10 inches of snow from an unexceptional winter storm.” Are we growing soft in Boston? Is our government too quick to warn us off the road?

If so, it’s in no small part because of the events of February 6, 1978. You remember how it unfolded: The Globe reported a “probable accumulation at least 6 inches,” that day. But the Nor’easter would eventually dump 27 inches on the city in a surprise that left people stranded for days, often in strange places. The storm took 29 lives in Massachusetts and caused $1 billion in cleanup. It also produced countless anecdotes from those who were there. Here’s one, from a collection of them we published on the storm’s 30th anniversary, that shows just how flexible people had to be with their logistics. Michael Tougias, author of The Blizzard of ’78, recalled:

 I was doing a slide presentation about the blizzard a few years ago and this woman told this story about being trapped in her car in Framingham. This guy came out on his snowmobile and took her back to his house. When they arrive, the guy’s wife goes into labor, so he says, “Will you watch my kids? I’m going to snowmobile my wife to the hospital.” He makes it sound like he’s going to be back in a few hours. It was four days. She was this young cosmetic saleswoman, knows nothing about parenting, and she has these three young kids—she doesn’t know their names, and two of them had the flu. She wished she’d been left in her car.

Of course, delivering babies wasn’t the only kind of baby-making going on that week. Just nine months later, UPI ran a story about a predicted influx of “blizzard babies”:

Hospitals in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut guessed in February what was happening in the houses behind the snowbanks and began making plans for a November baby boom.

The medical community predicted after the wave of blizzard babies would come ‘reunion’ babies conceived after couples separated for a week by the snowstorm were reunited.

Hey, there’s at least one reason Boston might be overly eager to declare a snow day, even if this week’s conditions don’t necessarily mirror the city’s worst.