Editor’s Note: What are some of your memories of the best (or worst) winter at Culver? You can leave your comments below.
With three days of classes canceled due to sub-zero temperatures, wind chills reaching 40-below, and Culver Academies students hunkered down in their homes or stranded in locations across the country trying to get back, the discussion quickly turns to which was the worst winter storm in Culver’s history.
For most people, recent memory turns to the “Blizzard of 1978,” which started late on Wednesday, Jan. 25, and within less than 24 hours had dumped over 20 inches of snow in some spots. Winds that pushed the snow into 20 to 30-foot drifts and forced the wind chill down to 50-below raged through Jan. 27.
While the 2014 snowfall wasn’t as great as 1978, the students, faculty, and staff were scattered across the globe for the holidays. The first classes of 2014 will resume on Thursday (Jan. 9) with approximately 90 percent of the students back.
In 1978, Culver Academies held classes since the students were on campus. On Friday, Jan. 26, students were given a sleep-in until noon so faculty could dig out and make it to campus – some with the assistance of Culver’s military vehicles. According to the Feb. 11, 1978 issue of The Vedette, some classes were canceled because instructors could not make it to campus. Here is the article:
”Killer Blizzard” Kills Classes
By MARY IVORY ’80
Vedette Staff Writer
Students were given an unwonted (but not unwanted) sleep-in Friday, Jan. 27, due to the “killer blizzard” which struck Wednesday and Thursday, putting Culver under three feet of snow.
The blizzard, which dropped as much as 31 inches of snow in some places and reduced the wind chill factor to 50 degrees below zero, had a 1000-mile path which blew across the Midwest and Canada.
Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky, and Illinois called out National Guardsmen to help people weather the storm.
Here at Culver, however, Thursday’s classes continued as usual, although drifts of snow prevented entry to the Riding Hall, and Aviation Director Col. Philip Col. Aschinger was unable to get to Fleet Field.
Students trudged to classes complaining, but few stopped to think of the distances some of the teachers were required to walk. Mr. B.L. Holaday, an English teacher, walked two and a half miles around the lake. Mr. Brian Parr and Miss Alison Misevich, both English teachers, as well, were stuck in a car on the East Shore but were rescued by department colleague Mr. M.J. Weber.
Most teachers were able to get here; a few, like Band Director Maj. Stephen Earls, who had drifts covering his front door, had to reluctantly cancel their classes.
On Friday, a special schedule was put out allowing students to sleep until lunch; classes began at one and continued until five. It was the first time in many years that classes had been affected by weather.
According to a 2008 Culver Citizen article looking back at the storm 30 years later, Academies Historian Bob Hartman said, ‘”As I recall, we knew this was coming. I believe that Lt. Col. William Crise took three or four rooms in the (Academies) motel and put crews in there…he kept them on almost all night long to keep ahead of (the blizzard). He wasn’t waiting until dawn to see what the damage was. I think the campus was remarkably good considering what was disaster on the outside. We had classes on that Friday and in the midst of the blizzard.’”
Hartman also recalled that admissions staffer Pete Salvadore was among those stranded in a car coming back from an admissions event. Members of the faculty and their wives created a 24-hour schedule to stay with his wife Pat and their two children until he was rescued.