Jan's Blog Flower



Now reading . . .

"Journey into the Whirlwind"
by Eugenia Semyonovna Ginzburg

by Karin Muller

"The Sewing Circles of Herat"
by Christina Lamb

"High Fidelity"
by Nick Hornby

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow

Poor Denver and the plains states and the Midwest – it has been snowing and storming and they are having winter. My daughter told me this morning that it was 71 on the Jersey shore and people were sitting on the beach in beach chairs. It was warmer there than here. No, it isn’t Global Warming, it is El Niño. Would El Niño be considered another illegal alien crossing the border? The combination of El Niño and the Jet Stream are warming up the East Coast and they may not have winter at all, meanwhile there has been snow, snow, snow in other places.

This isn’t the first time, of course, that there have been terrific snows. I can remember as a child having deep snows, so deep that our father had to take us to and from school in a smoke house that was put on a sledge or a stone boat. No, not boats made of stone nor boats that sink like a rock. A stone boat is a low tech device for moving rocks or other heavy stuff. My father would move a small shed that was used for smoking meat after butchering onto a sledge. He would then put some bales of hay inside and cover them with blankets to make a seat for us (and him) to sit on. There was a small window in the front of the smoke house so he could put the reins attached to the horse through and through which he could see to guide the horse. He would hitch up the horse and drive her the half mile to school. We thought it was a great adventure and even though we came out smelling like ham and bacon we didn’t have to walk in the deep snow. Mother usually had something nice for us to eat or drink when we got home.

Mother also told us about the terrible blizzard of 1888. She was born in 1895 so what she told us was what she had been told. January 12, 1888 started out as an especially warm day in a month that is normally frigid in South Dakota. Everyone went about his business, glad for this mild day. The snow descended suddenly, and it was so blinding that the visibility was reduced to zero. Schools were in session. Some teachers kept the entire group in the schoolhouse for the night even though it was probably a very cold night for all. The temperature drop was as terrific as it was sudden. Five of the children were on their way home and became lost in the storm. Because of the terrific cold and deep snows the bodies of the little boys weren’t found until four days later even though there was a community-wide search for them. Their little bodies were found close together, kneeling in the snow. They were three brothers: John, Henry and Elias Kaufman; Peter Graber and John Albrecht. They were buried together in one grave in the cemetery of the Salem-Zion Church in Freeman, South Dakota. It is estimated that some 2000 lives were lost in this one storm, nearly 400 of them in Dakota and over a dozen in Turner County South Dakota.

Mother may have told us this as a cautionary tale. We were very careful not to wander away in a storm.

I’ll take Southern California.

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