Author Topic: the good old days  (Read 953 times)

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Offline zeker

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the good old days
« on: October 23, 2015, 09:51:29 AM »
These are from published Pioneer Stories

It had been a long and bitter winter, the couple had been trapped in their sod dugout for weeks on end.  Finally  the weather broke and they were going to make it to the village.  They came in with a wagon box on runners because feed and seed was to be hauled back.

When they arrived, the husband gave his wife a sum of money for provisions to get them through the next few months.  He would be down at the feed store getting feed and seed.  When he was loaded, he came back to the grocery only to have the grocer deny all knowledge of her.  Same for the clothing store and the needle and thread shop.  Finally he got down to the railroad station.

“Oh yeah, I sold a ticket to Denver to a lady you describe.  Train left about a half hour ago.”

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It had been a hard winter but they were fairly comfortable because they had a new frame house and barn.  One sunny day, the husband tells his wife that he is going out to check the stock.  She thought this odd because it was the middle of the day and he usually checked morning and evening so she watched.   He brought out the pony and put a saddle on it.  She thought that odd because the stock was in a stockyard right behind the barn.  He got on the pony and rode out until she could no longer see him.  She never saw him again.

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The woman had grown up with trees, little ones and big ones, lots of them.  But here there were no trees in sight for miles in any direction and she missed them terribly.   One day near spring, her husband said that they were going to have to go to the river for fuel, their coal was getting low and there was no money to buy more.

They came over a rise and there was a tree!  She sprang out of the wagon, ran to the tree and hugged it as tears poured down her face.  Her husband came up and said;

“You know, we have to cut it down.”

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The five men with four wagons on runners loaded with wheat pulled by oxen were on their way to the railhead.   It was a balmy January day, near melting.  Then about 2:00, the weather suddenly changed, a blizzard with winds up to 70 mph (calculated later).  They were headed north, the wind was from the northwest.  Soon they realized they could not see where they were going, in fact they could not see the oxen drawing the wagon.  So they circled the wagons hoping to ride out the storm.  Unfortunately, it went for three days.  Only one man survived.

  Our local culture had a tradition that disabled people who could still do the job became public officials.  Thus our town clerk who eventually migrated to the County Seat was missing an arm .   The name of the survivor,  although well before my time,  is known to me. He was a county official for many years and his name is on many records
The graves of the victims are in a cemetery near my Grandfather's farm.

Five years later came the “Children's Blizzard.”  It hit just after the children were released from their country schools  and were walking home.  One family of six was found frozen, their arms intertwined.   The eldest did not abandon the young.   Singles died over three States, some not found until spring.

I grew up with stories about that blizzard even though it took place 50 years before my time and I don't think anybody was harmed locally.  One of the stories was about a school teacher walking with two small students back to the farm where she boarded during the school year.  The storm hit and visibility went to zero.  She was wearing a long heavy coat.   She bundled the kids into the coat and laid down on top of them so they would not run off or be blown away.  They were found alive the next day, she was not.

I have told this before but maybe there are some newbies here.  It was Monday, Nov 11, 1940, the hired man was driving me to school when we noticed something odd in the northwest, a huge black cloud just rolling along the landscape from the ground to the heavens.  He turned the car around and we went back to the farm.  The next time I saw a scene like that was an aerial view of a major dust storm hitting Phoenix.

As we drove in, my Mother came out to ask why we had come back.  The hired man points at the sky.  As we were staring it hit, high wind, driving dirt and snow, and tremendous drop in temperature.  The hired man ran for the barn which was no longer visible to secure the stock, we ran for the house.

We were barricaded in the house for two days, the violent wind with its windchill so bad that we were driven out of the north side of the house.  We huddled around the living room and kitchen stove.  And we had a windbreak.  I cannot imagine what it was like back in the 1880's when there were no windbreaks and a lot more porous house than we had and people burned hay for fuel.  (There actually were stoves designed to do that.)

I was served tea for the first time in my life so I knew things were desperate.

The wife of a neighbor two miles over went out to get the cows and never came back.  They found her three days later with the cows, all frozen.  I think the State lost over 40 people, a large number duck hunters  who stayed too long for hunting that was unbelievable.  Every duck  from the north was skating before the storm.

The snow piled up so high in our yard that it was possible to walk up a drift onto the roof of our garage.     And because it was part dirt, it had the consistency of concrete.   It took three men a full day to cut their way out of our farmyard to the road.

A pheasant sailing before the wind crashed through the front door window of our school.  Luckily the inner door was closed but the cloakroom was packed with snow.  Took considerable effort to get us back into the school room by Thursday.

Meat was real cheap at the local meat market that winter of 1940-41.
of all the things I,ve lost.. I miss my mind, the most