By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

30 years ago this week

I hadn’t thought much about the 30th anniversary of the Blizzard of ’78 until I saw Tom Gagen’s op-ed piece in today’s Globe, in which he describes the futile efforts to put out a paper the morning after.

Gagen brought back my own memories of trying to publish a paper that night. I was an editor at the Northeastern News, and we had two sports reporters — Steve Silva and Mike Tempesta — at the Beanpot. By all rights, Steve and Mike should have been trapped at the Boston Garden. But the editor, Anthony Pastelis, and I implored them to come back after the game, insisting we were going to get that week’s edition out one way or another.

Somehow, Steve and Mike managed to walk back to Northeastern, arriving in the newsroom at 2 or 3 a.m. and looking like frozen snowmen. We put the finishing touches on the paper. But later that morning, when we got in touch with our compositor/printer — the Boston Phoenix — we were told that it wasn’t going to happen. I’m not sure it would have mattered if the Phoenix’s printing plant was right down the street, but the fact that it was in Auburn, in Central Massachusetts, made our hopes of getting a paper out impossible.

These days, of course, we’d have just published the paper online and that would have been that.

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  1. Anonymous

    I couldn’t help but notice that the old front page actually had stories about BOSTON. Ah, good times….

  2. Dan Kennedy

    Anon 10:11: There was a time when the Globe was criticized for being more interested in Tehran than in Boston. I’d say that was more true in 1978 than it is today. Like many major metros, the Globe has responded to the Internet challenge by going almost completely local on page one. Do you really disagree with that?

  3. Esther

    Well I certainly remember the Blizzard of ’78, too. Hard to believe it’s been 30 years! I still remember the NU News headline a week or so later, when the university came up with a plan to make up for missed classes. It was something like: “Bigs finally speak, classes during finals week.” Maybe it was uni bigs, I don’t know. But you’re right, it would have been much easier today. Thank God Al Gore invented the Internets!

  4. endangered coffee

    Maybe anon. 10:11 meant there were stories about Boston instead of stories about the wealthy ‘burbs surrounding Boston.Just a guess.

  5. Dan Kennedy

    Endangered: You’ve got a point.

  6. luscious-purple

    Ooh, ooh. I remember the Blizzard of ’78 — I was a freshman at BU, just trying to get involved with the Daily Free Press, living in Warren Towers. We already had a lot of snow on the ground from a previous snowstorm around Jan. 25, IIRC. I had had no idea that the storm was going to get so bad that I couldn’t see the neighboring tower. I remember that the dorm’s cinema committee couldn’t get out to return the 16-mm print of “Rocky,” so we had lots of free showings of “Rocky” to keep us 1,600 residents occupied.People were cross-country skiing on the Charles. Is such a thing even possible today?

  7. Larz

    We went by my father’s house after the storm, and here he is, 67 years old, out at the end of the driveway, shoveling the waist-deep drifts. We started yelling at him to not even attempt shoveling, and he said he was just out there because a contractor friend was across the street, having coffee with a supervisor from the Mass. DPW. And there was a huge loader parked in the yard. Sure enough, ten minutes later, Eddie came out. “Get out of the way, Larz!” he yelled. And he did the whole driveway in two minutes. The 12-foot blade trimmed the forsythias, too.My brother and I both came down with the flu. We have less than a dozen pictures of the bliz.— Larz

  8. BosPhotog

    Dan, Amazed you had the Globe front page up there. Please don’t forget that the Boston Herald won a photo pulitzer with their coverage.Thx

  9. Dan Kennedy

    Bosphotog: The Globe put up that front page to accompany Gagen’s op-ed — I just copied it. I’d love to post a Herald front page from the storm, too. Of course, it was the Herald American, not today’s Herald, which for all intents and purposes is a 25-year-old paper literally founded by Rupert Murdoch.

  10. BosPhotog

    Point well taken, Dan.I liked your Blizzard story. It was amazing how newspapers published that day and the following 3 days. I remember being a swampscott 12 year old and pulling a sled filled with food from Star Market on Paradise Road to my parents’ house. Governor Dukakis had a yellow sweater as he was giving emergency television updates. I still do not know why that yellow sweater is still etched in people’s minds. Strange what impressions pop culture, i.e television news, leaves you with.

  11. Dan Kennedy

    Bosphotog: I pointed it out only because I don’t want anyone to think I was overlooking the Herald. The Herald we know did not exist in 1978. But if the current crew can dig out a few of those old front pages and put them online, we’d love to see them.

  12. Anonymous

    Dan,I’ve always thought of the Herald as a child that took the name of the father (Herald) but looks like its mother (Record-American).Bob in Peabody

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