Lillian Willis who was the cook manager of the cafeteria at Memorial School wrote this next account of the Blizzard of '78. She was living on H Street at the time.
Just after dawn I received a phone call from the Fire Chief notifying me that if I didn't get over to the Memorial School kitchen pronto that they would have to break the locks on the walk-in refrigerator to get milk for some children. I had no idea of the disaster that had hit Hull overnight. The only thing that had happened at my house was that we had lost the electricity.
I dressed hurriedly, grabbed my kitchen keys and headed for the school 3 blocks away. The streets hadn't been plowed well and I could hear, but couldn't see, the sound of some large machinery ahead of me. I walked on the edge of the road so I could jump into a yard if whatever was making the noise came at me through the blinding snow.
I arrived at the Memorial School to find a few hundred people in the cafeteria. The firemen had hung their socks and gloves all over my stove; the floor was very wet. This is when I learned about the flood conditions all over town. The first thing I did was open cans of soup; the Police and Firemen were cold, wet & hungry.
Joanne Fallon, my right arm gal, came to help. She lives right across the street. They had just purchased a new car; the Army picked it up with a front-end loader and dumped it in a neighbor's yard.
For the next ten days we kept the kitchen open. Here are some of my memory highlights:
1) The Rabbi and family were here. All the kosher food we had was tuna & eggs and a few tomatoes.
2) The diabetic group had to be fed on time and needed O.J. All we had was a 1/2-gallon.
3) The janitors were a great help; they pitched in to serve breakfast. John Condito was especially helpful.
4) I usually served 250 meals for school lunch. I was serving 700-800 meals 3 times a day.
5) Some large food store in Hingham had lost its freezers and sent us all kinds of breakfast stuff. We started serving breakfast at 7:00AM. One morning at 9:30 I had a request for blueberry waffles and sausage. Needless to say they were lucky to get a bowl of Corn Flakes. We also had mothers banging on our metal curtain at 6:30 in the morning saying their kids were up and wanted to eat.
6) My shoes fell apart from being wet for 4 days. I put elastics on them to hold the sole on.
7) The CB groups that had 4 wheel drive vehicles were a big help. They went to the Jacobs & High School to get paper goods and the chicken that was thawing for the school lunch menus.
8) Joanne and I worked 36 hours strait for the first 2 days. We went home got 6-7 hours sleep and went back to work. I don't remember what went first my voice or my legs. Thank heaven Dicky & David came by and practically carried me home.
9) I put fruit out in individual cups so people could have a snack day or night. People were sleeping in every room and on the corridor floors. The padding had been taken off the gym walls and used to mattresses.
10) I had brought a deck of cards for the people to use and pass around. I never saw them again.
11) Cases of food were coming in to be passed on to the refuges. They were stored in the wood shop. Dog & cat food was given to the Animal Rescue League.
12) We had some people from the Weymouth Air Base stationed in the building.
13) We heard that 2 women on the third floor were in "business"!
14) The rumor that measles was around was false.
15) The Sahara Bread Co. sent us a gazillon packages of their bread. It was a staple for days. It puffed up real nice on top of the stove.
16) By day 5 some people were leaving, by day 10 all were gone. The families that were staying in the Hingham Motel sent the children to school for breakfast.
At home David had plans to get Nana (Ruth Miller). He was going to bundle her up well and put her in our canoe and tow her to our house from K Street, so she would be warm. We had the gas heater in the cellar. Just as he was about to leave, a friend of his with a 4-wheel drive came by; they went to Nanas rescue.
Lobsters had come in the high floods, so David and Ken took a walk and picked them out of the hedges. We had a little camper in the back yard. It had a gas stove so we did all the cooking out there (I had an electric stove).
Rick and Pat came to tell us they were getting married. The National Guard had to check Rick's driver's license to let him come into Hull.
Dick was working at the Memorial School 12 hours on and 12 hours off.
The only part of the disaster that I saw was the snow and on one tide the ocean came across the bayside field and a short way down M Street.