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Memories of the Blizzard of 78 –Minding the store at Elm Street Market by Paul Roy Jr.

At the time of the Blizzard of '78 my father, Paul Roy owned the Elm Market on Elm Street. I was a senior at Nichols College in Dudley. I still remember eating lunch in the student union building on campus and watching the noon news where the Channel Five weatherman at the time, Bill Hovey, was saying we would be experiencing a few flurries throughout the day but it wouldn't amount to much. Obviously he was wrong. After classes I headed to the store without much difficulty and the store closed on time. The next day however was a different store. 

For many years we had been trained to listen for the fire alarm when it was snowing. When 8-8-8 sounded we knew there was no school. Even though I was in college I had a pretty good idea when it rang and I looked out the window I wasn't going to school.  My car was buried and the driveway was covered with about two feet of snow. A day off would be nice. That was not to be, About seven or so the phone rang and I heard my father yelling from the other end of the house for my sister and I to get out of bed and go open the store, the manager at the time, Bob Lafleche couldn't get out of his driveway. I dragged myself out of bed and dressed for a walk from hillside Road to Elm Street, normally a fifteen minute walk. I couldn't open the door, the snow had drifted on that side of the house, so out the garage door I went. 

 I began my walk heading down Hillside towards the Hartwell area. One of the neighbors, I don't remember who, was driving by and offered me a ride which i gladly took. He deposited me on Elm St. in front of the store. Walking up to the side door, on the left of the building, I opened the door and the phone was ringing. It didn't stop for seven hours. After the first three calls of "Are you open?" I decided not to answer it until I could get everything ready to go. In order to open the front doors, I had to shovel from the side door to the front, I then shoveled around the doors, so if nothing else people would be able to get in. By the time I finished this, my sister showed up, she had to walk the whole way, and she manned the cash register. I shoveled a path to the street. And then the fun began. 

 Here are just some of the memories in no particular order:

Then began the hour walk home. By this time the streets had been cleared somewhat better, but there were cars buried everywhere. I'll always remember how people were that day, friendly, kind, understanding for the most part although there were some who couldn't understand how Dresser Hill couldn't deliver any milk that day and they made their way to the store by foot, snowmobile and cross country skis. 

Paul Roy Jr.

As it appeared in 1968 - Dick Whitney photo

  Whitney 'Blizzard of 78' Photos

Remembering the Blizzard of 1978

  Mary Trifone Recalls the Blizzard of 78 - submitted Feb 9, 2010

Southbridge Main Page

WBZ TV slideshow of the blizzard of 1978

Blizzard of '78 WCVB website

Whitney Home Page

Comments: email Dick Whitney