Quincy family toughs it out as thermostat drops

Amy Kelly and her sons, John, 12, (left) and Matthew, 9, dressed warmly to play a board game Saturday after losing power Friday night.
Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff
Amy Kelly and her sons, John, 12, (left) and Matthew, 9, dressed warmly to play a board game Saturday after losing power Friday night.

Their two boys were already tucked in, and Amy and John Kelly were watching the storm news on TV in their Quincy home at 10 p.m. Friday when everything went dark. OK, they figured, good time to turn in.

Amy Kelly had heeded the warnings and jacked up the thermostat earlier in the evening. “My husband said, ‘Why is it so hot in here?’ I didn’t want to tell him because he would think I was crazy,” Kelly said, with a laugh.

Her heating scheme worked — for awhile. “It was 73 degrees when we went to bed, and 55 when we woke up this morning. Now we’re at 42,” she said Saturday afternoon at the colonial home she shares with her husband and sons.


It’s cold enough that the family can see their breath indoors. Nine-year-old Matthew pretended to smoke an invisible cigarette: “Mom, look at this!”

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The father of the family, John, is a Quincy police officer. “He shoveled us out before he went to work,” said Amy, a 39-year-old photographer. Matthew, 9, and John Jr., 12, would have helped with the shoveling, but their mom did not want the cold boys coming back into a cold house.

As soon as Kelly woke up, she donned thick socks, Uggs, jeans and a long, down-filled North Face jacket. “I’m cold-natured,” she said. Her husband laughed at her, telling her she had put her coat on too soon, and would never feel warm as the air got colder.

“I think he was right,” she said with a shiver. Meanwhile, her boys were dressed in all sorts of layers.

“They’re excellent. I think they know they have no other choice but just to stay in,” Kelly said. Without the usual television and Internet, the boys spent the day playing cards, Scrabble, and other games.


It was soup for lunch, heated on a gas burner that their mother could light.

“The boys are snacking on whatever they can find in the cabinets,’’ she said.

The refrigerator, of course, was out, and Kelly wasn’t about to open the door, to ensure that the food inside stayed as cold as possible.

Her cellphone was out of juice, too, and Kelly was relegated to using the “traditional” phone, wire and all.

“I’ve been trying to walk around, talking on the phone and I realize I can’t because I’m stuck to it,” she said. “We’re all spoiled, we’re so used to all these gadgets.”


But Kelly wasn’t complaining. “I realize I can do without everything; I don’t care about the Internet or the cellphone, if I have heat. I just hope the pipes don’t freeze.”

Dinner? She didn’t know. Though she had stocked up on food beforehand, there was no good way to cook it.

“I could probably make some pasta, or if I had to, just sandwiches.”

Like a good Massachusetts native, Kelly took the storm called Nemo, and its annoying cousin, Power Outage, in stride. “It’s inconvenient, but I think of the people who lived through Sandy and I think, we’ll be fine. There’s always worse.”

And if worse came to worst, she had another option. Her sister, who also lives in Quincy, has a generator. In late afternoon, Kelly sent Matthew to her mother-in-law’s home in Squantum, which had power.

She was waiting for her husband to arrive home from work, where he had been out on the road much of the day, responding to 911 calls.

“We’ve been toughing it out, but if the power doesn’t come back on, we’ll go to my sister’s,” she said.

“This is getting old.” And cold; it was now 41 degrees in the bedrooms, with the temperature dropping.

Bella English can be reached at