TWO WINTER STORMS

I grew up in a different era, which seems far away now, but some of my memories are very clear.

Juno brings two snow storms to my mind: one in about 1940 and the other in 1958.

I went to a one-room country school a little over a mile from my home. It was winter. There was probably some snow already on the ground. The day started normally. My dad took his milk to the Deposit creamery first thing in the morning. It was a nine-mile trip each way. I probably went with him.

Code and Leese, two senior adults, lived on the corner of the highway and the county road. Whenever one of them needed something from the grocery or the pharmacy, they would put a small flag on their mailbox. Dad stopped and got his instructions. I was always happy when we had to go to the pharmacy because that meant I could get a five-cent ice cream cone—winter or summer made no difference to me. I was most often the first customer of the day.

Dad dropped me off at school, stopped to deliver whatever Code or Leese needed, and went home to do his chores in the barn.

Weather forecasting in that time, was often inaccurate. Whether or not the storm that began late in the morning had been predicted, I don’t know. The snow and wind quickly became a blizzard piling snow. We watched it through the windows. I’m sure our teacher, Mrs. Parsons, began to worry about letting us leave for home, but it wasn’t safe to let us out the door.

Sometime in the early afternoon, we looked out to see my father with his team of horses pulling a large sled. We got our snow pants, jackets, hats, and mittens on. I was a small child. I remember fighting the short distance across the school yard to the wire fence. I struggled, pulling myself along the fence against the wind toward Dad holding the horses. I was scared. I thought if I let go the wind would blow me away. Then I felt Dad’s arms around me. He carried me to the sled, tucked me under a heavy warm horse blanket. All the children who lived on our road were snuggled under that blanket while Dad faced the wind to guide the horses safely up the road to our farm.

The storm in 1958 lasted the full month of February. It didn’t snow continuously, but it snowed some every day. I was teaching in Interlaken, New York, while my husband attended Cornell University. During that month, we had four full days of school, but with half or fewer of the children in attendance. Many roads were blocked so the buses couldn’t get through to pick up students.

Snowplow drivers worked valiantly to keep one of the two main north-south highways open with a least one lane. It made for interesting driving when you encountered a single lane on a two lane road.

The one state road which connected Interlaken with the village of Lodi to the west was blocked by a twenty-foot wall of hard packed snow. The normal V-shaped plow cracked when the driver rammed it. The town called for reinforcements—rotary plows. They couldn’t dent the white wall. Finally, the town called in dynamite experts to blow the road open so trucks could haul away the snow.

When the snow stopped coming and children could get to school buses, the wind had drifted snow within six inches of roof of our one-story building. I had no problem keeping the children’s attention inside my room for at least a month. The winds had piled snow over the bottom three-quarters of the wall of windows.

The forecasters may not have been able to say exactly who would get how much snow, but they surely nailed the ferocity of Juno.

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