hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

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February 6, 2014

Mother Nature's fury hits home

(Continued)

How my partner and I survived that ordeal was indeed a miracle.

The Blizzard of ‘78 found me driving home from Boston with my heart in my hands. The entire city of Haverhill was in an abyss. No power. No lights. Absolute chaos. We lit candles, listened to a battery-operated radio and played gin rummy. The gin we drank.

The following day, I walked two miles to work at The Gazette, determined to put out a newspaper. The paper had never missed an edition under any circumstances.

I hitched a ride with a DPW plow, putting my camera in overdrive. Back at the office, a couple others showed up, including a pressman, and we managed to publish a skeleton edition dedicated to the “storm of the century.”

Last February marked the 25th anniversary of that blizzard and today, I can talk about it with my grandchildren. It’s the stuff of which memories are made.

One time, I had accompanied the Boy Scouts to a freeze-out called “Operation Snowbound.” Hey, if my kid was tough enough to withstand winter’s elements, so was I. He needed the experience to earn a merit badge. I tagged along for support.

We slept in tents and sleeping bags out in the wilderness. A grizzly assault would have been easier. Torrential rain pelted our surroundings in frigid temperatures, turning the tent into an igloo.

The next morning when I awoke, I was literally encased in ice. Some Eagle Scout got a fire going and we mercifully thawed out. The comfort of a warm bed and stack of griddle cakes was like a mirage.

There were other extremes. Don’t ever ask me to tour the Mediterranean in August again, not unless you keep me in an air-conditioned cubicle.

We were at the Ruins of Pompeii when someone reported the temperature at 115 degrees. Where do you retreat in the midst of an outdoor carnage? In Vegas one summer, I encountered similar heat, only to escape inside one of many resorts in our path.

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