BLIZZARD 1967 – Your Recollections in 100 Words

Cermak Road at the end of the storm. Chicago Sun-Times file photo

Cermak Road at the end of the storm. Chicago Sun-Times file photo

Email your 100 word recollection of Chicago’s 1967 blizzard to boxoffice(at)16thstreettheater.org

“That day, I drove from Washington and Hamlin, where my grandfather was dying (in Garfield Park Hospital) to the paper’s Wilmette office. I refrained from shooting until Howard Street, where our coverage area began. I shot some in Evanston and Wilmette, but when I got into the office, my photo editor (Vivian Maier’s employer, by the way) forbade me from processing or turning in any snow photos, ‘When our next issues come out a week from today, nobody will even remember it snowed.’
But 50 years later, you’re mounting a play about it.” — Larry Graff, Photographer, Chicago Sun-Times:

“This visual image of walking from school is burned into my memory. I was in 7th grade at St. Odilo School, living at 26th and Oak Park. We were dismissed a bit early that day because of the snow, but even then walking home was a challenge. About halfway there, the drifts were so high that lifting my feet to take the next step was exhausting. For a brief moment I remember wondering if I would get home. That was the moment I first understood the power of the natural world.” — Barbara Korbel

Eve, my wife, and I were teaching at Morton East. Faculty parking was on the old EL strip, north of 22nd street. With an early release because of the snow, I told Eve to wait at school and I will get the car (parked two blocks north) and pick her up. When I got to the EL strip, I had to help other teachers getting out of the lot. Time passed quickly and Eve eventually walked up to the strip. I told her to drive our car. “I’ll push, and don’t stop. I’ll jump in.” She didn’t stop nor slow down. I didn’t catch up until Lombard Ave. Eve drove to our apartment in North Riverside where she plowed into a snow bank trying to get into our parking space. The car stayed there, blocking the entrance, until the next day.
On day two, a friend, who taught biology, and Eve went back to school to feed his lab animals and get papers to grade–both important tasks for teachers.
Scheduled Semester Exams were postponed.” — Don Ciner

“Hyde Park. Starts snowing during Judy Collins concert on campus Thursday – doesn’t stop. I am loosely associated with U Chicago folk festival Friday to Sunday. Radio announcers all day Friday read lists of cancelled events and add with amazement “the UC Folk festival is not cancelled.” 6 performers scheduled for Friday show; 1 and 2/3 show. Buddy Guy and Junior Wells drag their amps across the midway to the hall and do an amazing first set. 2/3 of the New Lost City Ramblers do the second half of the show. We offer refunds to any dissatisfied audience. No takers.
Volunteers cook meals for festival performers. I get dragooned into shopping for food Saturday morning at Hyde Park Coop on 55th street. We hail cabs to take us and groceries half mile to Ida Noyes Hall on 59th street. All cabbies refuse – they can’t make it. We push and drag three shopping carts with those narrow wheels sinking into the 27 inches. Takes us over 2 hours.
Festival organizing committee thinks my accidental involvement with the groceries means I am dedicated to traditional music and invite me to join the festival program committee. I wind up in charge of the 1969 festival. That involvement leads to an 8-year career in music with Flying Fish Records – a Chicago based traditional and folk music record label. And somewhat weirdly my “day job” while Flying Fish gets off the ground leads to my eventual career in nursing. Those 27 inches changed the trajectory of my life.” — Charles Gutfeld

“I remember I came home on that Friday as it snowed for 3 days without stopping. Once me and my Dad shoveled the walkway it was well over our heads. I was walking by a store and there was 1 loaf of bread and 2 people were fighting for it, 1 on each end. The bread package broke and the bread fell to the ground and they both walked away.” — Bill Corbett

“I was born on January 25, 1967, so we were effectively snowed into Weiss Memorial Hospital. (Thankfully I wasn’t born a day later, which was when the snow really started falling in earnest, as I am not sure if I and my poor mother would have survived giving birth in a taxicab or whatever.) Anyway, we were snowed in at Weiss for two weeks waiting for the snowscape to melt. My father didn’t get to see me until my mother could get us home and he had to watch my two-year-old brother. My grandfather, though, a soft-spoken but scrappy Polish immigrant, somehow traversed the city’s impenetrable, locked-down topography and made it to the hospital for a visit. Family lore is that my Grandpa Nate was able to ID me as a member of the family out of all the other snow babies in the nursery and we were bonded for life. Years later, during Snowpocalypse of 2011, we were able to enjoy the 5-foot-plus drifts of snow with our son and my late mother, who was living with us with Alzheimer’s, watched from inside the house. Even though snow brought us together, I don’t think she ever cared for it much.” — Marla Rose

“About 11:30 PM I caught the #22 bus at 1000 N. Clark in time to get to LaSalle Street Station for the last train to the south side. It was snowing. I had no idea how bad a snow it was. Once at the station, the train was canceled about 1:00 am. I walked to State Street. Caught the Archer bus that weaved past dozens of abandoned cars, trucks and buses finally arriving at Ashland Ave. Caught the #9 Ashland bus. Got home to 9200 S. in 6 hours around 5:30 AM. No cars in the Loop the next day. Beautiful!” — Nick Polus

“My husband, Joel, and I were in Florida on our honeymoon. When we got to Tampa to catch our flight home, we found out the airports were closed and we couldn’t get another flight until the following Tuesday. We got a new rental car and went back to Sanibel Island for another four days. There were no credit cards at that time, so we had $10 when we got home.” — Betty Chrastka

“I remember my dad dragging a toboggan to town to pick up groceries for the neighborhood. And fighting off curious dogs all the way home.” — Kristen Vehill

“Imagine being in 7th grade and watching the biggest storm in history with your jowls being tied up by your dads ironed white handkerchief (thanks to having the mumps). Well that was me! We lived in a basement apartment on Harlem Avenue in Berwyn. The snow was so high that to see out of the window I had to stand on a kitchen chair and watch everyone else enjoying no school and the best snow forts ever built by man….or should I say by the neighborhood gang.” — Michele (Shelly Morris) Skryd

“I was a future Vietnam veteran, as was one of the characters. Back in 1967, I was a student at I.I.T., living in our fraternity house in the 3300 block of South Michigan Ave. It was semester break, and only 5 of us were in the house when the storm hit. I had a great part-time job delivering the early credit card machines to businesses that had signed up to use the new MasterCards that were changing the way we buy things, and my employer gave me 24/7 use of a rented, new 1967 Chevrolet to make the deliveries with. After tiring of playing poker and jumping off the roof of the third floor into the huge drifts against the side of the house, and after we ran out of Old Sunnybrook whiskey, the others persuaded me to drive across the Dan Ryan into Bridgeport to one of our favorite taverns. When we tried to drive back to the fraternity house, the car became hopelessly stuck. After a brief attempt to walk back against the wind, they turned around and went back to the tavern, while I alone trudged on through the drifts, sometimes walking down the middle of the streets. I remember screaming defiantly into that wind off the lake, which pushed back against every struggling step through the deep snow, while standing at the corner of 35th and State, only 3 blocks from our house. I was frozen and semi-delirious, but eventually managed to make it back safely. Returning to get the car two days later, we found it on blocks with all 4 wheels and tires stolen. It cost me the car and my job. I don’t know if the alcohol helped or hurt me, but I realized later that I was very lucky to make it back alone, and that an older, less fit version of myself might not have been that fortunate. It’s still a vivid memory 50 years later.” — William Ziegler