Longest Snow Day in Center Grove History
Whenever I see the first snow of the season, memories of the Blizzard of ’78 immediately come to mind. The “White Hurricane” dumped more than 20 inches of snow from January 25 to 27, recorded wind gusts over 50 mph, and shut down Center Grove schools for two weeks. Of course, that last statistic was the most memorable part for me.
We lived on Berry Road, just across from where Sugar Grove Elementary is today. I was a fifth grader in Ms. Wells’ class at West Grove Elementary, anxiously awaiting my 12th birthday on January 30. But when we woke up the morning of January 26, not only was school closed, but practically the entire state of Indiana was shut down.
For two weeks straight we woke up at 7 a.m., watched the Cowboy Bob Show in its entirety, ate toast with a variety of toppings, dressed in layers of clothes and went outside to engineer and build a complex tunnel system under the 5-foot snow drifts throughout our yard. My younger sister Julie was only 5 years old, so we couldn’t rely on her for any tunneling labor assistance. However, she was welcome to explore our complex underworld, complete with skylights, fireplaces and hiding places.
Hard-packed snow drifts covered my dad’s ‘72 Chevy Malibu and my grandma’s ’76 Ford Maverick — you couldn’t even see the tops of them. Our neighbors, the Kemps, had a snow drift that angled perfectly up the leeward side of their house to their rooftop. At the corner of our street and Smith Valley Road, snow had drifted more than 12-feet high. Needless to say, we couldn’t, and didn’t, go anywhere. Not even school.
Tanks were used to clear stranded vehicles on I-65, and doctors were forced to use snowmobiles to get to emergencies. Locally, the Daily Journal printed newspapers on pink paper so readers could find them on the snow. It was the biggest snow storm in Indiana history, but more importantly, the longest unscheduled vacation from school ever.