Tuesday, March 4, 2014

1966 Blizzard

Every now and then I try and figure out if this is the hard winter
as in The Long Winter  written by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  My head
gets too tired with all of that math so I soon give it up.  This is what
happened back in March 1966 in northern MN. 
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There's a smell of fresh coffee in the air as we sit at my parents round, oak table. Dad has brought the crackling brown newspaper from the file cabinet and we pore over it, coffee cups in hand. My finger traces the name, The Baudette Region, and the date, Wednesday, March 9, 1966. There are questions galore about that long ago day.
How could an airplane get stuck in a field?
How did you shovel all that snow?
Who brought the snow mobile to our place?
And the question that forever sticks in my mind . . .
do I remember this?
or am I imagining it because I've heard the story told so often?
My family lived in a little house a couple miles south of Graceton, MN. There were three of us girls. I was barely five, Ladina was almost four and Trenda would turn two in May. We had a copper colored cocker spaniel named Baskin. Baskin was the delight of our lives. We were thrilled with her family of puppies.
This storm blew in from the west, successfully shutting down the whole area. For two days snow fell and winds up to 45 mph whipped around the corners of our house. With 18" of fresh snow fall we weren't going anywhere.
To add to the excitement, the little people of our household were coughing and sneezing. Trenda, especially, had a deep hacking cough.
Dad stayed home from work Thursday and FridaySaturday morning was bright and clear. Dad started the enormous task of shoveling us out of a snow bank. Our green Volkswagen was buried under a mound of snow. 
Between sneezes, Ladina and I scraped the frost off the windows and pressed our noses to the glass. We watched the path grow longer and longer as Dad's shovel bit into the snow. Baskin frisked around, barking, long ears flopping; tail wagging, and generally making a nuisance of herself.
We ran to the door and opened it when Dad came in to eat breakfast. The wood in our cook stove crackled cheerfully, warming the kitchen where we gathered to eat. Dad hung his coat on the hook by the door and unbuckled his boots. He warmed his hands by the stove. He noticed Trenda pacing the floor instead of scrambling into her chair. Her face was gray instead of the normal rosy color.
After comparing notes with Mom, Dad made a hurried call to Dr. Brink in Baudette.  Thankfully the phone lines were still intact.  He described Trenda's symptoms.  The doctor's instructions were, "Bring her to the hospital today."  Today?!
That conversation set a lot of wheels in motion. Actually, I should say wheels and skis. Bob Griffen flew an airplane to the Skrivseth place. As he attempted to taxi from the field to the road the plane got stuck. Then Vern James came by snowmobile and took Mom and Trenda to Graceton. From there a snowplow cleared a lane on HWY 11. Douglas Grund took them to the hospital in Baudette in his pick up. 
Both Mom and Trenda had pneumonia. They ended up staying in Baudette for several days . . . Mom with Aunt Hellen and Trenda in the hospital. Dr. Brink told my parents Trenda wouldn't have made it through the night.
When I think about that day long ago I picture my dad bundled up in winter clothes, shoveling snow. I can see Baskin, the dog with floppy ears and a litter of pups.  Mom thought of bringing the puppies into the house. They were a distraction to us so we wouldn't run out and follow while Dad, carrying Trenda and breaking a path for Mom, waded through snow to the end of our lane to meet the snowmobile.  Before they started out they called Grandma and Aunt Leah . . . Ladina and I took turns talking to them on the phone. We described the wonders of our puppies to them.
Today, we can describe the wonders of our God who plans for our safety down to the minutest detail. Praise His Name!!
In the days before we could dial 911 there was a system up and running that helped people in emergencies . . . family and community. Our family is forever grateful to this community.