The ‘A Word for the Day’ on the Thursday, Jan. 26, 1978 edition of the Elkhart Truth read “If you don’t have somewhere to go, DON’T!” Such was the situation during the infamous Blizzard of 1978.
Next week will mark 40 years since the infamous storm, which dumped nearly two feet of snow across the region over the course of two days. Blowing winds caused snowdrifts several feet deep and schools and businesses closed for days as everyone dug out.
The Elkhart Public Library has a trove of local history materials and items pertaining to the blizzard, including newspaper archives from those days.
We also asked our staff for their own recollections of the storm and the next several days, as frigid temperatures made playing outside dangerous and transportation was only available by snowmobile.
This is a funny picture of our dog Bear and I, after the snow stopped falling and we got out….to dig out. Bear, wanted so much to come out and help us. But, not long after his paws would get too cold for him to be out. My sister and I had gotten footy socks for Christmas, so we decided to make boots out of them for poor Bear. After getting used to the feel of these strange things on his paws, and, much silly walking, he finally got to be out with his peeps. Bear became a very happy camper. He loved chasing snowballs and shovels full of snow tossed into the air.
Our neighbors (father & son) decided to walk to the grocery and took orders from everyone in the neighborhood. We could get three items. Most were getting bread, milk, eggs, and other necessities. My parents picked: wine, cigarettes and Grape Nuts (the only cereal I would eat). We had plenty of milk and bread but my parents had run out of the fun stuff. We originally said wine, cereal and a TV guide but our neighbors said the TV Guide could be an extra item since it didn’t weigh anything. My parents looked selfish in their picks but we were really well fortified.
My best friend (and the daughter of the above father and son) lived across the street. She and I began digging until we had a tunnel which went from right outside my door to her porch. Now I realize how dangerous it was. If it collapsed we would have been in trouble!
I remember that my siblings and I delivered South Bend Tribune newspapers in the blizzard because the paper truck was able to make it to our house to give us the papers to deliver to neighbors and others on our route.
I have nothing but fond memories of the Blizzard of ’78! Memories of snowmobiling, sledding and skiing at Swiss Valley following that blizzard. I remember digging tunnels out of the house, jumping off the roof into 10 foot drifts (after shoveling 4-5 foot off the roof) and the 12-plus foot walls of snow lining Main Street in Jones, Mich. where I grew up. We dug the most fantastic snow tunnels into the snow banks along that same street. We had several snowmobiles and a dog sled that we pulled behind them, taking food and other supplies to those who were trapped in their homes further out in the country. It was a fantastic unexpected vacation from school and my sisters and our neighbors had a blast. I know that not everyone has such nostalgia for this storm, but seems like a wonderful dream to me! I have often wished we had gotten some pictures.
The EPL and the Elkhart County Historical Museum have some materials on the Blizzard of 1978, but lack many photographs. Michelle Nash, curator of collections for the ECHM, said that often events that have occurred in living memory don’t wind up in history museums for several decades.
“Oddly enough, the event may be too recent even at 40 years ago. It may be surprising to hear, but I’ve noticed this can happen at museums whose collections are primarily donation based: there is perhaps a perception that more recent events aren’t quite ‘history yet’ and therefore materials related to them do not get donated as often,” she said.
“Of course, in this case, maybe everyone was too busy shoveling to take pictures!”
If people do have photographs they wish to donate contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or call the library at 574-522-5669 and the museum at 574-848-4322.
Fifth and six graders can build their teams and prepare for battle, a reading battle.
The third Battle of the Books will take place Saturday, March 24 , with teams answering questions about the books they’ve read to claim glory for their team.
Teams should be forming now, with each team made up of five members, with up to five alternates, according to Allison McLean, head of Young People’s Services.
The fifth and sixth graders will have 10 weeks to read 10 books, McLean said, emphasizing that team members may divide the reading up however they want. Teams will then answer trivia questions about the books on March 24 with the winning team getting a trophy and bragging rights.
Here are the books of the 2018 Battle of the Books:
“It’s really awesome because in fifth and sixth grade, kids lose the will to read for fun and this is a great way to keep them engaged in it,” McLean said.
“For kids that continue to read for fun this a great way for them to get recognition, children in sports are often get recognition, this is a chance for readers to get in the spotlight.”
The books will be provided by the library and returned after the program, so that it may continue in future years.
Interested students should talk to their teacher or school librarian, McLean said and if students do not have a sponsoring teacher, they can use a parent as a coach.
Indiana author Linda Akeson McGurk will share her take on parenting and Scandinavian culture and how the two can blend together, during a visit and book signing next month.
At 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 1, McGurk will be at the downtown branch of the Elkhart Public Library for a talk and signing of her book “There’s No Such Thing as Bad Weather.”
Barnes & Noble Mishawaka will be on hand with copies of the book for sale.
McGurk, who was born in Sweden and now lives in Covington, Ind., was inspired to write her book after she noticed a change in parenting and how children played and interacted with the outdoors compared with how she was raised.
“I’ve had the idea for the book ever since my first daughter was born all of ten years ago,” she said. “That’s when I noticed a lot of cultural differences in the parenting styles here compared to my native Sweden.
There was a culture clash and it gave me this idea for the book.”
McGurk decided to take her two daughters, age 7 and 10, back with her to Sweden to live for six months and see if it was as different as she remembered.
“I wanted to sort of tap into that and tell my story and talk about parenting in Scandinavia and talk about how to bring that into their children’s lives here,” she said.
The response she has gotten from the book has been great, she says, and most of all she enjoys hearing from readers that take away the Swedish ideals of “hygge” (pronounced hue-guh) and “friluftsliv” (free-loofts-liv) which are about being cozy, comfortable and in tune with nature, and apply them to their own lives.
“I had one mom tell me she always used to drive to work even though she only lives half a mile from work,” she said.
“Another told me she now lets her daughter walk home from school. I think a lot of people just need the motivation, especially this time of year when it’s cold and gets dark early.”
McGurk said that she hopes that the book will resonate with parents that both remember a time when children weren’t so digitally “plugged in” and played outside, as well as a younger generation of parents that is.
“It’s about connecting with nature on a deeper level, outside of outside adventure sports and being one with nature and I look forward to sharing a bit more about that,” she said.
Storytime, a program held at three EPL branches on a weekly basis, helps introduce the library to children, as well as socializing them and preparing them for preschool.
According to Osolo branch supervisor librarian Donna Mitschelen, the program is presented different at each branch but follows the same idea.
“This program focuses on helping children prepare for kindergarten by providing opportunities to learn and to enhance their pre-reading skills,” she said.
“Early literacy skills are developed through talking, singing, writing, reading and playing; we try to incorporate these skills into our Storytime sessions.”
Tuesday, 10 a.m. at Osolo
Tuesday, 10 a.m., Tuesday Tales (Ages 4-5) at Main
Wednesday, 10 a.m. at Dunlap and Cleveland
Thursday, 10 a.m. at Pierre Moran
Thursday, 10 a.m., Little Explorers (ages 2-3) at Main
Mary Ann Johnson, a retired teacher, has been bringing her granddaughter, Piper, to the Osolo for Tuesday Storytime since September and said it works great for her as a daytime caretaker.
“It’s just important that the kids learn those aspects of the library,” she said. “They do a lot of different things; reading, motor skills and they always do an activity.”
Kay Hanft, also a retired teacher, has brought all of her grandchildren to storytime over the years, six in all.
“Donna does appropriate stories for their age and my grand kids love to do the crafts and of course the snack,” said Hanft with a laugh.
“It’s a good step to bring them here before they go to preschool so they can have the socialization, otherwise they will be behind when they get to preschool.”
The Storytime program is slightly different at the downtown library, with two programs, Little Explorers for 2- and 3-year-olds and Tuesday Tales for 4- to 6-year-olds, according to Allison McLean, head of Young People Services.
McLean said that the reason for the different program for 4- and 5-year-olds is so they can focus on youngsters at the other sessions.
“That allows us to be a little more focused than the 2-5 age range at the other storytimes,” McLean said.
Over the next eight weeks, art will be created using a computer at Elkhart Public Library.
Starting at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 11, in the downtown library, kids taking part in Coding Art will begin learning how to use a computer to make animations, photo filters, interactive artwork and more . Coding Art also will show kids how computer programming is used in creating art and architecture.
Coding Art will take place every Thursday until the final afternoon on March 1.
Kids will build eight complete projects while they learn vital computer science concepts and techniques. Registration is expected to ensure enough computers are available for everyone. Participants are encouraged to commit to all eight weeks, otherwise they won’t be able to get the full experience.
“We hope kids will be excited about this opportunity to learn about coding,” said Allison McLean, head of the library’s Young People’s Services.
In addition to learning coding and exploring computer science, students will be able to learn more about how technology is used to make art in other mediums such as film or online.
Those signing up do not need any prior computer experience.