Gazette Article by: Laurie Starrett
Appeared in the Gazette: Winter 1997
It began to snow on January 26, 1967, and continued for more than 24 hours. Catching Winnetkans by surprise, the storm eventually buried the village under a record-breaking 23 inches.
It seemed so harmless when it started. Tom Hermes remembers, “At breakfast on Thursday the radio forecast three to six inches of snow.” As the day progressed, so did the forecasts for snowfall. “By the time we got out of New Trier, it was a full-blown blizzard.” Hermes never made it home that night, marooned at the house of his friend, Tom Foley. The next day was very quiet, clear, and beautiful – a perfect day for adventure. While most cars were going nowhere, Foley’s father had a Sunbeam sports car. Hermes explained, “This car had traction. Mr. Foley tied lengths of hose to the back bumper, and we put on skis. He drove us all around Winnetka as if we were water-skiing. It was a lot of fun.
The snow shut down most businesses on Friday, the 27th. Joe Fell of The Fell Company recalls visiting his father Abe, who was pacing back and forth saying, “I’ve got to get uptown, someone may need something.” Fell said, “Dad, you can’t really believe that anybody would trek through such a storm to buy a tie.”
Some businesses actually benefited from the weather. There was a run on groceries as people loaded down sleds and toboggans with staples like bread and milk. Another store was very busy that day. Ralph Lucchesi worked at Powell’s Camera Mart (now Stern’s Camera) and managed to make it in on Friday with Mr. Stern and another employee. “It was one of the busiest days we ever had,” Lucchesi said. “Everybody wanted to take pictures of the snowstorm. They walked or snowmobiled. We had people on snowshoes and cross-country skis. One way or another a lot of people got uptown to buy film.”
Tom Fritts, who lived in a neighborhood “full of babies,” owned a Jeep; while out and about he saw a milk truck parked at the corner of Hibbard and Willow Roads. “I was a bachelor and had no idea how much milk cost, but I knew nobody had delivered to my neighborhood at that point. So I stopped and bought big gallon jugs. I didn’t realize that I paid three times what I should have for the milk.” Others charged premium rates for shoveling off roofs.
All the schools were closed on Friday, liberating children to play in the snow. Beth Sawyer remembers crawling through snow caves and tunnels at the beach. Marion Powers described how she and her sisters and brothers made snow angels in the middle of an empty Hibbard Road. She also recalls, “We made an enormous igloo.” Snow forts, snowmen, and sled runs also sprang up throughout the village.
Many residents remember the spirit of camaraderie generated by the storm. Dick Busscher summarized the feeling, “What it really did was to bring all your neighbors together; we ought to do this every year!”