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Sound Off: The Magic of Snow

We asked alumni for their favorite winter memories on campus and got an avalanche of responses.

Sound Off Snow Fun
Image: Matthew Gilson

Winter 2023
8 Responses

Constantine M. Boukidis ’81  

Blizzard in January 1979. Played football on Long Field with my frat brothers under the full moon when it was about 5 degrees. If you stepped where others had already played, you were fine, but if you went 6 inches off the ‘field,’ you were up to your hips in snow. Quite an experience for a native Southern Californian!”

Carla Schopp ’71  

“Snow piled up to the third-floor windows of Allison Hall in January 1968. My room was on the third floor, and girls were going out the window, sliding down the snow pile. We dug a tunnel to the front door of the dorm so we could get back inside!”  

Gaurav Malhotra ’03 MS  

“Winter 2003, first winter in the U.S. after life in tropical India. Rushing to the Medill building with wet hair, I ran my hands through my hair and heard a crack. I panicked for a moment until I realized that the water in my hair had frozen!”

Allyson Bear ’99  

“I returned from the Rose Bowl in January 1996 and drove from Dayton, Ohio, to Chicago in a blizzard so as not to miss the first day of classes. We went through sorority rush standing in subzero temps. I ended up with pneumonia — and a new parka appropriate for ‘real’ winters (and I was coming from Ohio!).”

Aaron Mills ’96, ’98 MS  

“1991, freshman year at Sargent Hall. Many of us snuck out on the lower roof and built a giant snowman. The RA was so angry and tried his best to find out who was responsible. Well, I guess the truth is finally out there.”

Janice Eatman-Williams ’81  

“One of our housemates in Rogers House was from Scottsdale, Ariz. She had never seen snow. First snowfall of freshman year, she took a bucket outside and filled it with snowballs. We had a battle in the lobby. Hilarious!”

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Reader Responses

  • Texas does everything bigger except for the leaves on our trees. Our live oaks drop their tiny, dull brown leaves each winter. My first autumn at Northwestern was my introduction to hand-sized leaves in so many colors. My roommates teased me for collecting them as I walked to class. My family thanked me for bringing them home to decorate our Thanksgiving table!

    Lauren (Fisher) Halpern ’95 Austin, Texas

  • During the winter of 1979, my friend Pam and I rented cross-country skis at Norris. There was so much snow we could ski down the Sheridan Road sidewalk to North Campus and back! I also remember the lake freezing in giant waves, poised to pound into the lakefront campus but solid as a rock. Surreal.

    Sara O’Daffer Marberry ’81 Evanston

  • On the cover of The Daily Northwestern, back around 1979, my Volkswagen Karmann Ghia was buried up to the top of the roof. Only a patch of the car’s roof could be seen. After some serious shoveling on one end of the auto, I hopped into the driver’s seat and pulled right out leaving a shell of snow. Miraculous.

    Tobi Augustiny Grassey ’84 Briarcliff Manor, N.Y., via Northwestern Magazine

  • The first fall of ’75 blizzard, inducing an early morning scoot out the rear of the (Foster-Walker) “Complex” to jaywalk across Sheridan to class, revealed “Judy” Lieberman, a Florida high school (Coral Gables) classmate who never saw snow, on the curb edge of a smooth velvet blanket of snow, in what now is known as the “lotus position,” her arms slowly rising and head tilted up meeting the sun with most serene grin. Not to be forgotten!

    Michael J. Gelfand ’79 West Palm Beach, Fla.

  • I was born and raised in New Hampshire, so I thought I knew snow. Wrong! The wind off Lake Michigan took winter to a whole new level. I remember wading through snow dunes up to my hips, incredulous that classes hadn't been canceled.

    Jill Lessard ’78 Hooksett, N.H.

  • For the umpteenth time, I will replay my winter of 1978 blizzard, Antarctic winter story. I am from Honolulu Hawaii, and still live here with my mom and sister. My dad generously flew me home every Christmas and summer to spend my vacations here in Honolulu with family and friends. I came back in January 1978 after a Christmas vacation in balmy Honolulu where the temperature was around 70 degrees. As we were landing, the legendary Boeing 747, which flew directly from Honolulu to Chicago, in the middle of the night. It was -60 degrees with the wind chill! We landed, so smoothly you couldn't even feel the plane touch down. The passengers gave the pilot and crew a standing ovation. There was not a soul around but us.

    My wonderful college boyfriend came to pick me up in my car, which apparently stalled at the entrance to the airport — that's how cold it was. Nevertheless, he hiked in to get me, perturbed to say the least, but we got the car towed to Evanston, left it at the dealership overnight. They reported the next day that the gas line froze, It was that cold.

    The rest of that winter was pretty brutal and cold, but being younger, we still walked all over campus to attend class.

    Gaye Miyasaki ’78 Honolulu, Hawaii, via Northwestern Magazine

  • It was winter 1993. The wind chill was -70 degrees. We *still* had class with shuttles running every 30 minutes. But you had to stand outside and wait for the shuttle. And some of us got to class to find a note on the door saying class was canceled because the professor wasn’t coming. Brutal.

    Kimberly Davis ’96 Athens, Ga., via Northwestern Magazine

  • Surprised you didn’t include mention of January 27–28, 1967, when there was so much snow that Northwestern classes were canceled for the first time. We walked to downtown Evanston but our feet kept bumping into something — the tops of the parking meters! Yes, that’s how deep the snow was.

    Larry Edsall ’69 Henderson, Nev.

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