I walked 20 miles in Two Feet of Snow


As an older adult (senior citizen), I despise the snow and cold weather.  As a child I loved the snow.  I’m not sure exactly when my opinion of it changed.  Maybe it the big snow storm of 1967.  If your old enough and lived in the Chicago area in January of 1967 you may have your own memories of the big snow storm.  I was working in Northlake, Illinois at GTE Automatic Electric at that time.  I remember it was around 2 or 3  p.m.  When someone said that there was a big semi stuck in the dock because of the snow.  I was wondering how I was going to get home.  If a big semi was stuck, how was my little car going to get out.  A little later the company announced it was closing.  This was an unusual move for AE.  They had all kinds of rules and you better follow them and they rarely closed if ever.  I went to my car and took one look and knew I wasn’t going anywhere.  I had no snow shovel and the snow was already to my bumper.   A lady I worked with lived nearby, and before I left she told me if I couldn’t get home to come to her house.  I started walking down Railroad Avenue and I had a choice to walk all the way down to North Avenue and back up Westward Ho Drive to her house or go down a hill in two feet of snow to her backyard.  I chose the latter.  I had a dress on (women were not allowed to wear slacks to work back then) and my boots were knee-high.  The snow was over the top of my boots.  I got to her house and was very thankful that she had invited me.  Several other people showed up too and that night was like a big slumber party.  I had only been working there since August, and I really got to know my coworkers.

My Mother was stuck at her job in Elmhurst, Illinois for a while.  I can’t remember how she got home because I usually picked her up on my way home from work.   School let out early that day because of the snow. When my brother got home, no one was home so he went to the next door neighbors.  My Father drove a truck for Burney Brothers Bakery that was located in Northlake also.  He was in Chicago stuck in traffic.  His truck then broke down.  He called the plant but they could not get to him.  He sat in the truck until the wee hours of the morning and then decided to walk or freeze to death in the truck.  He started walking and walked to Northlake (around 20 miles) .  He would stop at various places for food, coffee and to warm up.  The snow storm was on Thursday January 26th, my father made it to Northlake around noon on Saturday January 28th.  There were no cell phones back then so the only way he had of communicating with my mother was a pay phone.  I was still at my coworkers house on Saturday.  When my dad called home, my mom told him I was still in Northlake.  He called me and told me to meet him on North Avenue.  He was not going to attempt to drive down a side street.  I walked to North Avenue and met my dad.  We drove to our home in Villa Park about 6 miles.   It was slow going but we finally got home.  My mother and brother made some attempt at shoveling out but there was still a lot to do.  Then my dad, mother, brother and I shoveled our driveway and side-walk.  On Sunday January 29th we went back to get my car.  We still had to shovel out my car.  My aunt and uncle went with us and all of us shoveled.  I could not get to work on Monday and on Tuesday North Avenue was still only one lane going each direction.  I was late for work and my boss told me about it.  When I told him it was because of the snow he said I should have planned better and left earlier, and the young people where I work think they have it bad now.  I didn’t walk twenty miles in two feet of snow, but my father did.

My Car in the parking lot of Automatic Electric on January 29, 1967 (three days after storm)

Below are links to information about the snow storm.  One has a video of a news report from 1967.

Lasting Effects of Snowstorm 1967

Winter of the Deep Snow

The Infamous Chicago Blizzard of 1967

About Gail Grunst Genealogy

Gail has been researching her own family since 1979. Her research has taken her back to 1800 Belgium and 1800 England. Gail has worked in a library for the last 20 years and has answered genealogy questions for patrons and helped patrons with their research. In addition to her degree in Library Media Technology, Gail has a two degree in Basic American Genealogy Research from the National Genealogy Society. She has done volunteer work for various Genealogy Societies. Gail teaches several Classes in Genealogy for the Round Lake Area Library, and would be happy to conduct a class for your organization. If interested in a class or if you would like a one-on-one consultation, please contact Gail. Please enjoy Gail's family History Blog

3 responses »

  1. Wow shades of the past. I was at GTE as a draftsman during that storm I remember looking out of the windows in the drafting department as the snow just kept building up. I drove a Volkswagen Beetle at the time and it was stuck between two other cars that had me pinned in front and back. But my car was so light weight and the pavement was so slick with snow and ice that a couple of other guys and I were able to slide the car out sideways and I was able to drive home to 26th and Pulaski Rd. in Chicago.

  2. My father worked for Burney Bros. Bakery as well in 1967. He was at the Chicago plant on Chicago Avenue until they closed.

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