Thirty-five years after the Blizzard of '78, the memories are remarkably fresh.
At the time, Jorge's (Rudy Cheeks) full-time gig was playing with the Young Adults. The band had a two-night booking at Trax, a club in Manhattan, that was to begin on that Monday. Half of the band and crew had already traveled to New York and were holed up on Bond Street at the loft of their friends Jamie and Susan.
Jorge, though, was not among this early group. He was planning to take an afternoon train to the city, as the band wasn't set to take the stage until midnight. By mid-afternoon, the snow was so heavy that Our Little Towne was virtually shutting down. And it was obvious that members of the band still in Rhode Island weren't getting to NYC. So at 4 pm, Jorge did what any self-respecting rock 'n' roller would do in that situation: he rushed out to the closest liquor store and stocked up.
After a few days, the snow was waist-high and Vo Dilun was at a standstill. There was the bad — RIPTA buses stranded in the snow drifts like giant elephants, their meters ripped out — and the beautiful: people walking around their neighborhoods, running into neighbors they hadn't spoken to in years.
At one point, Jorge trudged to Leo's on Chestnut Street where the National Guard had airlifted food. A group of employees and Leo's regulars were feeding the motorists stranded on Route 95.
Jorge, who was handling the Young Adults bookings at the time, was marking off the dates the band was missing: two nights in Connecticut, a concert at a college in New Hampshire, two nights in Boston. This "no money coming in" situation undoubtedly led to Jorge's desperate decision to join a three-day poker game unfolding upstairs.
Fortunately, Brian Kenner didn't take all the money in his wallet.
As the blizzard began, Phillipe piled into an old Ford van owned by one of his colleagues at the legendary India Imports. He was hoping to make it to his Wickford home. The owner's wife and another co-worker, both of whom lived in South County, were on board, too. The whole crew had been let out early in hopes of beating the storm. No such luck.
Right after leaving Route 95 South and turning on to Route 4, the van's motor suddenly shut down — completely choked by a thick layer of snow and ice. Since the day had started off fairly innocuously, weather-wise, P. only had a fairly light coat. He added a pair of children's mittens he'd found in the van that barely covered his fingers. Needless to say, it was a bit frightening to be standing on the side of the road in no-man's land on Route 4, freezing and with the snow blowing blindingly.
Fortunately, after about 15 minutes of contemplating a very cold death, the group was able to flag down one of the few drivers on the road. It turned out to be another India Imports employee. He let us hop in, and informed us that he thought the snowfall so beautiful, he'd dropped some acid to further appreciate its splendor. Perhaps too much information. But the car was warm, and we just hoped that our own Ken Kesey could handle the storm.