Readers Say

‘Mountains of snow’: Readers share Blizzard of ‘78 memories, photos

February marks the 45th anniversary of the Blizzard of 1978.

Boston has gotten little snow this winter, but this time 45 years ago, the city was under siege by the heavy snowfall of the Blizzard of ‘78. In honor of that anniversary, we asked readers to share their memories and photos to commemorate the infamous blizzard that had the Boston area at a standstill. 

Once readers got past the initial shock that it’s been 45 years since the fateful storm and the days of plowing and shoveling that came after it, they had a lot to share about their memories from that time.

“I was 9 years old. I remember the snow banks were wicked high,” said Jen L.M. from Braintree. “Mike Dukakis came on the news wearing a colored shirt and sweater (different coordinating colors each day) and declared a state of emergency.”


From Feb. 6 to 7, the storm brought 27 inches of snow to Boston, in addition to intense 83 mph winds. At the time, it was the highest recorded snowfall the city had ever seen. 

Donald L. from Jamaica Plain recalls that “you could stand on top of the street signs, the snow was so high from the plows.”

“Being 16 at the time, we made a lot of money shoveling,” he said. 

For many communities in the area, the storm was deadly. The blizzard left 99 people dead, destroyed homes along the shore, and left many others stranded. One reader said the memory that sticks out most was “the cheers that went up when a food delivery truck made it into Marblehead.” Others remembered watching the National Guard plow through the roads to clear homes and stranded cars. 

Readers captured photos of cars buried under four feet of snow and recounted the moments from the Blizzard of ‘78 that have stuck with them decades later. Below you’ll find a sampling of responses from readers sharing their experiences hunkering down with their family and friends, venturing out to help neighbors, and even finding love amidst the snowfall. 


Responses have been lightly edited for length and clarity.

“Wallingford Road, Brighton. No driving here.” Photo courtesy of Marilyn from Brighton.

‘I was sometimes walking on roofs of cars completely buried in snow’

“I drove home on 128 N from Bedford at the height of the storm…in an MGB CONVERTIBLE (with the top up). I managed to get through the fast accumulating snow while others were getting stuck. At home, my driveway was a huge snow drift! I stuck my car in the snow where it remained for a week!” — Tom D. Salem

“I was volunteering for the Hatch for Governor campaign and got stuck in Boston. Ended up crashing at a friend’s apartment on Beacon Hill and spent the evenings walking over to Daisy Buchanan’s to drink with friends. I didn’t get home until Thursday.” — Mark M., Exton

“What I remember most is our neighbor driving a snowmobile into Boston (we lived in Belmont) to pick up his wife, who worked at Brigham and Women’s hospital. She couldn’t get home for four days.” — Anonymous

“Discovering that, while walking home, I was sometimes walking on roofs of cars completely buried in snow. Also, [a friend] who was a Boston firefighter, died while out on a call. He also worked part-time in Jordan Marsh’s basement store where I worked also. A really good person.” — Gene L., Quincy

‘It was a fun time for the young and responsibility-free’

“My dad usually left the house at 5:30 a.m. to get some work done before opening his pharmacy. When I heard school was canceled, I thought I’d get an early pass at shoveling the driveway so it wouldn’t be as bad when I got a chance to do it again later. When I finished the driveway I looked back at the area I had already done and it was higher than when I had started.    


My parents were friends with another family whose kids were friendly with my siblings and me. For some reason, the kids were over and we thought it would be fun to jump off the second-story deck into a huge snow drift that had assembled below it. It was … and I feel like we each did it a dozen times, including the youngest who might have been 6.” — David T., Needham Heights

“I was 15 at the time and remember as it started how quiet it was in my town. Peaceful and soft, but no sound. Then I remember eight days off from school. We lived on the Newton/Wellesley border, and my friends and I watched the National Guard digging out cars on Route 128 from an overpass. My mom wanted to go to the grocery store but the only way was a two-foot wide path in the middle of the main road. People had the same idea. Crazy kids, we built a huge snow pile and jumped into it from a second-story roof. Don’t tell my parents!” — Tommy

“Sliding off the roof of our house into the snow banks at 7 years old.” — Anonymous

“I was a sophomore at Bridgewater State College. Lived in the Hill dorms. It became a multi-day sledding and partying event. We ‘borrowed’ trays from the cafeteria and made great use of the hill that the dorm was built on and then at the end of the day walked to the end of the street and bought beer at Smudin’s when we could put a few dollars together. It was a fun time for the young and responsibility-free.” — Rosieo, Houston, Texas

“Buried on Helena Road in Dorchester. Nobody was going anywhere for a while.” Photo courtesy of Dan L. from Dorchester.

‘A close-knit neighborhood’

“Five hearty Wenham families, of which mine was one, bundled up and headed on an adventure that I will never forget. Food was dwindling and the seven-mile snow-covered roads were the only option from Wenham to Hamilton Center to the grocery store. The group was a close-knit neighborhood to start with, and I fondly remember the jokes and singing, and fun that we all had trampling through the snow. One backpack was filled with a giant ham and another with potatoes and snacks. The laughter helped us all return home safely where a giant dinner was put together and a competitive game of Boggle and 45s rounded off the night.” — Sue O., Wenham


“No cars anywhere. Walking down the hill to Adams Corner in Dorchester to help elderly people carry their groceries home from the Purity Supreme until we were chased away by the manager. Also, remember parents all gathering in our downstairs neighbor’s apartment to put the liquor cabinet to proper use.” — Dan L., Dorchester

“What I remember most was people asking my friends and I to shovel their driveway, sidewalk, car, etc., and in return being paid with beer.” — Bill, Quincy

“I was 5 years old. We lived in a six family apartment building. The snow drifts were so enormous that the front entrance to the apartment was blocked. I can remember the National Guard trucks plowing the road. I can remember my dad pulling me in the toboggan to Almacs to get groceries in the days after the blizzard for some of the other tenants. There were mountains of snow everywhere.” — Mike L., Blackstone

“Mass Ave., Cambridge, Blizzard of 1978.” Photo courtesy of Barney K. from Newton.

‘I still compare most winter storms to the King of all Storms’

“I lived in Quincy during the Blizzard of ‘78. I was a student at Quincy Point Junior High and I went to school that first day of the storm, as most kids did. When the school administration realized what was happening, all the kids were called into the gym. The T sent extra buses to take the kids home early. I remember vividly, the bus was jammed packed. I was standing at the very front, next to the driver. The snow was flying, the wind was wild. He had a bus full of mostly kids and some adults that he was responsible for. He drove very slowly and hugged along the curb if possible. It was hard to even see out the windshield and I helped by warning him of parked cars along the side as he drove. 


“I was one of the last off the bus. I lived right at the foot of the Fore River Bridge in Quincy and the bus was not allowed to go over the bridge because of the storm. So he let me off at the light by the Dairy Queen and I walked the block home from there. I could barely see in front of me but I made it home. We lost power only for six hours (we were lucky, our power grid was the same as General Dynamics Shipyard at the time) and I remember my mother and I staying warm using the gas stove in the kitchen and playing cards by candlelight while the blizzard raged outside. 

“When it was all over, our porch was bare, strangely enough. The wind had whipped around the house and blown all the snow off the porch and onto the front stairs. So we were able to get out and shovel. We helped several neighbors shovel out as well. I still compare most winter storms to the king of all storms for the Boston area, the infamous Blizzard of ’78.” — Tammy B.R., Quincy Point

‘People cross-country skiing down Mass Ave. between Harvard and Porter’

“I was working on Boylston Street just across from the Boston Common. I hiked over to the North End and stayed with a friend. There was so much snow that cars couldn’t make it up any street with an incline in the North End. After two or three days, the city brought the plow trucks and dumped the snow in the harbor. There was no other place to put it.” — John C., Lived in Medford at the time.


“It was 45 years ago?! The one before it was on January 20. Got caught out in it with a friend. It was no joke getting back to Somerville from the depths of Brighton. For the February storm, got a paid week off from work. Spent it with my girlfriend playing Scrabble and otherwise amusing ourselves. My car, parked on the street, was totally buried. People cross-country skiing down Mass Ave. between Harvard and Porter.” Bruce, Reading

Photo courtesy of Adele G. from Merrimack, N.H.

‘It was when I fell in love with my lifelong partner’

“I met my husband during the blizzard of ‘78. We were sledding buddies. I’d just gotten the LL Bean six-man toboggan as a Christmas present. His family, mine, and another neighborhood family all shared meals throughout the storm to conserve.” — Kim S., Beverly Farms

“I was a sophomore in college outside of Boston during the Blizzard of ’78. As the snow fell, some friends in my dorm decided to play touch football in the snow. What fun! Something was up, though, as the guy across the hall from me kept tackling me … which was odd as I was on his team! That was the beginning of a college romance and we have been happily married for almost 43 years. While I don’t have pictures of that momentous football game, I do have pictures of friends jumping off roofs on campus. There was no danger … the snow was that high! While I realize the storm was devastating, as well as deadly for some people, for me it was when I fell in love with my lifelong partner.” — Adele G., Merrimack, N.H.

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