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Blizzard of '78: Heroic trucker, Supermarket sweethearts

9:35 AM, Jan 28, 2008   |    comments
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The family of truck driver Jim Truly looks back at the blizzard's 30th anniversary this weekend with mixed emotions. Truly survived six days in the blizzard, trapped in the cab of his truck under a 30 foot snowdrift that was nearly half a mile long. "They didn't think that, you know, he could have survived that long," recalls his widow, Carol. Jim Truly died of natural causes eight years after the blizzard. "It was terrible, it was just terrible," she says sadly, taking a pause while paging through the yellowed newsclippings of her husband's amazing survival story. "I wish he was still here today." Jim Truly was hauling steel from Cleveland to Mansfield when the blizzard hit. He had pulled over to help another driver then decided to wait until the heavy snow passed. It never did. "It was a difficult time for him, a difficult time for the family," says Truly's daughter Susan Pogue, who was a teenager at the time of the Blizzard of '78. She remembers the day well, and wonders how her dad survived in a dark, freezing truck for so many days. "Either he had some oxygen trapped underneath there, which is hard to believe, or he had some real good guardian angels blowing air in there for him," Pogue figures. The family can't forget Jim's homecoming to their house on Denison Avenue on Cleveland's West Side. "I know when he came in the door and greeted all of us and we were crying and everything," Carol Truly remembers, "and then he said 'I need a bath!'" Carol recalls that the rescued trucker asked for applesauce and hot soup. He had survived the blizzard by eating snow and smoking cigarettes. "When he got hungry he rolled down the window," Carol explains. "He did a lot of praying and a lot of thinking and thought about all of us." Truly's daughter says her dad slept a lot in the truck and probably didn't realize how much time had passed because he had left his watch at home. It needed a battery. "Every time he woke up he was just trying to use the CB radio, trying the CB. He rolled the window down, tried to push with his hand and couldn't get through." Truly's rescue came when someone in the area heard him banging on the inside of his cab with the lead pipe he kept on the floor of the truck. His family says retelling the story of his heroic survival keeps Jim Truly alive in people's memories. John and Ginni Tuggle of Uniontown, Ohio can't ever forget the Blizzard of '78. She was a cashier at an Akron area IGA Supermarket. He was the manager. "I called her in to work because I thought she was one person who would get there," remembers John, who wanted to keep the store open in the terrible weather for people who needed essentials. Ginni answered the call and trudged to the supermarket through the raging blizzard. "The funny thing is I didn't like him when I first met him," says Ginni. "I really didn't care for this guy but I went in and worked the day of the blizzard." "We worked together side by side all day long, and we got to know each other," Ginni says. John Tuggle says there was a reason he called Ginni. "I have to admit she had caught my eye previous to that. And so when it (the blizzard) happened, she was one of the ones I purposely called." "I arranged that she would be working in close association with me. Had it all planned. Not the weather obviously, but it worked well," smiles John. It must have worked, as Ginni testifies: "We got married in September and in October I found out I was pregnant." The Blizzard of '78 had sparked a romance that has lasted 30 years and four children, and still brings quick smiles to the faces of John and Ginni. "Well it was really cold outside that day," Ginni laughs, "but it was really warm inside that IGA."

PHOTOGALLERIES

  • Pictures of Jim Truly's rescue and Ginni & John: CLICK HERE
  • WKYC Historical Photos Gallery: CLICK HERE

VIDEO FEATURE

  • To watch Dick's package on the blizzard, click "Play Video" to watch.

YOUR MEMORIES

  • Read your memories from the Blizzard of '78 - Part I: CLICK HERE
  • Read your memories from the Blizzard of '78 - Part II: CLICK HERE
  • Read your memories from the Blizzard of '78 - Part III: CLICK HERE
  • Post your own memories from the Blizzard of '78: CLICK HERE

ARTICLES ON THE BLIZZARD OF '78

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