Hingham resident’s photos enliven Blizzard of 78’ Book By Cohasset Mariner Staff Writer - 02/07/2008 Cohasset Mariner
COHASSET - Like millions of others living in Massachusetts back in February of 1978, Eric Pence of Lafayette Avenue, was unaware that the snow coming down late in the day on Feb. 6 was anything more than just another New England snowstorm. However, recalls Pence, the fury of the storm started to dawn on him when he found the outside landscape significantly changed in the course of a half-hour subway ride from Cambridge to Kenmore Square that evening. By morning, with the power out, snow still falling, and cars already out of sight under the drifting snow, Pence got to work chronicling the historic storm with his camera.
For years, the stunning photographs that resulted were simply stored away. But several years ago, Pence posted them on his web site. Then, last year, Pence was contacted by Alan R. Earls, who was putting together a book for Arcadia Publishing on the Blizzard and wanted to use the images. Pence agreed and now the photos are bringing back memories for others as well. “The photos Eric took are some of the most memorable in the book,” said Earls. “They really show the progress of the storm and how the city was transformed.”
For Eric, though, the fun of capturing history eventually faded and despite a ban on driving and a public transportation system that was barely functioning, he decided to try to get to Weymouth, where his girlfriend and future wife, Patti Rosenfield, had recently purchased a house. “The first time I tried I got as far as Andrews Square in South Boston and they announced that the train couldn’t go any farther,” recalled Pence. However, a day or two later, persistence paid off — he was able to take the Red Line to what was then its terminus in downtown Quincy. “Then I just got out and walked down Route 53 for probably another five miles or so,” he said. Pence recalls that there were quite a few other walkers but the only vehicles on the road belonged to the Army or local emergency services.
Pence and Rosenfield — who married in 1979 and moved to Hingham in 1982 — spent the several more days enjoying the enforced leisure before getting back to work the Monday following the Blizzard.
And, Pence adds, “My wife’s main reason for moving to Weymouth had been to get a fenced in yard so she wouldn’t need to walk her dog. However, with the three feet of snow from the Blizzard on top of two feet that had fallen a few weeks earlier, the fence all but disappeared, so it was back to dog walking.”
The final kicker from the storm came about two weeks later. “I had actually paid for a car before the Blizzard but hadn’t yet picked it up from the dealer,” noted Pence.
When he finally went to pick it up, though, it wouldn’t start because the engine compartment had been entirely filled with the blowing and drifting snow of the Blizzard.
Despite the many inconveniences caused by the storm, Pence said, “We were fortunate, for us the storm was mostly a lot of fun.”
Greater Boston’s Blizzard of 1978 (ISBN-13: 978-0738555195) is available at area bookstores, independent retailers, and on-line retailers, or through Arcadia Publishing at (888)-313-2665 or www.arcadiapublishing.com.
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