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By Jennifer Strobel
By JENNIFER MILLER STROBEL
SNOW WAS MAKING a lot of headlines in the 1966 Free Lance-Star.
As one news writer put it on Jan. 6
Jan. 15, the first "real snow" fell. Strong winds created snowdrifts. All major roads north of Richmond were blocked.
These cold conditions were just teasers for The Big One on the last weekend of the month.
Saturday, Jan. 29, approximately 15 inches of new snow covered old snow, leaving approximately 21 inches on the ground--quite a lot by Virginia standards. It stayed on the ground, too. The mercury reached its nadir Sunday night at 7 degrees.
Monday, Jan. 31, a news article reported that "Virginia awoke to bone-chilling cold and wearily went back to the colossal tasks of trying to break the shackles of one of the most destructive storms the state has ever known."
Reporter John C. Goolrick shared tales of "real life dramas."
At Mary Washington Hospital, for instance, dozens of nurses, cooks and other employees realized they couldn't leave on that snowy Saturday night, and that their replacements couldn't arrive. Cots were set up in the hospital's laboratories and the physical therapy room for the staff "sleep-over."
Sunday morning, several doctors at the hospital fixed their own breakfasts and helped cook for others.
Goolrick also reported that just south of town, U.S. 1 in front of the Holiday Inn resembled a parking lot, as motorists drove off Interstate 95 seeking shelter. Every room was full and even banquet rooms were being used for sleeping space. Guests were acting as busboys and waitresses.
Not everyone could wait out the storm.
A state snowplow had to break a path for Fredericksburg Rescue Squad workers who needed to transport an expectant mother to the hospital by ambulance. The round trip to and from Shady Grove in Spotsylvania County took four hours.
These are just some of the tales told in the local newspaper, and some of the many that never made it into print.