In his poem “Fire and Ice,” Robert Frost wrote about the end of the world, musing, “Some say the world will end in fire, / Some say in ice.”
Though Frost himself thought fiery passion was more likely to end the human race, he also understood cool hatred enough “To say that for destruction ice / Is also great / And would suffice.”
The people caught in the Blizzard of ‘78, a giant snowstorm that slammed into the American northeast some 30 years ago, probably felt much the same.
It was caused by two freak low-pressure systems converging around Cleveland, Ohio.
However, the people of Indianapolis, Indiana, would be the hardest hit. The storm dropped 20 inches within 24 hours and led to a total deposit of 30.6 inches over the space of a month in the Circle City, a national record.
It also almost cost the life of Shirley Rodgers of Euclid, Ohio. A single mother, she had just started a new job and evidently wanted to make an appearance despite the weather.
“I have never in my life seen that much snow, and also I don’t remember the wind ever blowing that hard in my life,” she told WJW.
“I remember hearing a weather report that said if you did not have to leave don’t go because the conditions were hazardous.”
Still, Rodgers decided to take her four-year-old and six-year-old sons Kenny and Kevin to a nearby Cleveland bus stop. Yet the storm proved more fierce than she had imagined.
“It was so much snow,” she recalled. “I couldn’t see because the snow was just really blowing, the wind was real hard, and so when I turned to look, I saw this man that was blowing his horn.”
In the midst of the family’s snow trek, a man in a car had appeared, tailing their every move. Rodgers first thought was that he wanted to kidnap her boys, so she urged them to run.
Their flight quickly turned comedic because they were so bundled up that they kept falling over into snow drifts, and they soon learned that the man was a good Samaritan rather than a malefactor.
His name was Barry Rodgers, and he simply wanted to make sure that the trio stayed safe.
Rodgers said, “He dropped my kids off at the babysitters, took me to work and then that night, I had no idea how I was gonna get home and he was sitting out in the parking lot waiting for me.”
That not-so-simple act of kindness soon flowered into love, and the two married three years later.
“That was in the Blizzard of 1978, we’ve been together ever since, and we’ve been married, we got married on his birthday, December 1, 1981. … Even though it was a bad storm, it was a silver lining because I met my husband, Barry, and I love him more now than ever.”
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