“We worked very hard to really maintain our relationships with our neighbors.”
Produced by Rebecca Werner with interviews recorded by StoryCorps, a national nonprofit whose mission is to provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve the stories of our lives. www.storycorps.org
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Transcript for The Blizzard
Everyone on our block knew everyone. It was a neighborhood.
It was like a village. I mean, everybody knew everybody. And the parents knew each other. The majority of them were either educators or worked in the steel mills. It was so diverse back then, I mean, I was very close friends in elementary school with people: Germans, Jewish people, Polish people, Czechoslovakian, Mexican. It was just—it was really a melting pot at the time, and that was very normal. It felt like that was the way things were supposed to be.
It felt comfortable.
Yeah. We worked very hard to really maintain our relationships with our neighbors. It was—we all understood that this is where we lived, and that we should cherish one another. I remember the blizzard.
Oh, the blizzard of ’68.
Remember the blizzard of ’67? Serious blizzard, and we were out—we were out almost a month.
Yeah, from school.
Yeah, from school.
And that’s when neighbors really came together because neighbors had to help each other dig out. Snow was above the halfway point of our front door.
Yeah, we couldn’t get out of our door.
It was at least three feet deep.
With ten foot drifts.
I remember the neighbors on the next block over calling, and my father saying that the Whitmans’ front door was completely covered. But as a child, we had a ball. We dug tunnels in the yard, crawled through the yard, we were not in school. It was a nightmare for parents, but it was fun for us.
For the young ladies, because for the young men, nine years old, we had a shovel in our hands. We were digging out, but this city was at a standstill. I mean, there was—you couldn’t do anything. You were doing good just to dig out of your home, and once you dug out of your home, I mean, you still had to help neighbors dig out. There were neighbors that couldn’t—older, especially elderly people—they couldn’t even get out of their houses. We didn’t have the conveniences that we have today. I mean, it wasn’t like a snowplow was coming down the street. And yeah, parents had little pantry savings of food, and for those people that didn’t have it, those that were able to get out, we—and we’re talking about a village again—you’d find out who needed what, and those that could get out usually tried to get enough for everybody on the block.