I Remember the Blizzard of 1948-49
One of my goals is to write at least one blog a month pulled from my memories of living in rural farming community in Idaho as a small child.
BLIZZARD OF 1948-49
WHOOSH-sh-sh! Thump! WHOOSH-sh-sh Thump! The loud sound of the wind roared through the classroom! I jumped in my seat and looked over to the windows of the 5th grade classroom. Everyone, even Mrs. Smith the teacher was staring out at the snow storm. The wind was blowing so hard that we could only see white snow flakes flying past. I heard Mrs. Smith exclaim, “ Oh My Goodness.” Just then the door burst open and the principal rushed into the classroom and loudly said; “There is a blizzard blowing in. Get your students ready to leave. The buses will pull in as soon as they can get here. I will come down the hall and call out the bus number. Release only those students to go on that bus. Keep the rest of your students in their seats.” Then he dashed out of the classroom and on down the hall.
It wasn’t long until I heard principal shouting, “Bus #25 is here.” Some of the students jumped up half walking and half running. No one told them to slow down as they hurried out to catch their bus.
We just sat there in our seats watching out the window. Two buses pulled in, one behind the other, the principal shouted “Bus 36 and Bus 60 are here”. As soon as each bus arrived, the number was called, students ran out, jumped on the bus, and it quickly pulled away. But to me it still seemed like a long time until the last bus finally pulled away and all the bus students were gone.
Mrs. Smith turned to face the town students. “Now listen carefully to what I am going to say. The wind is blowing stronger now, so go straight home, don’t stop and play in the snow or with each other just get home as soon as you can. If you should have any trouble getting home, stop and knock on someones door and ask for help. Good Bye, see you when the storm is over.”
Some of the town parents had called the school and picked up their children. But my Mother worked down town at J C Penny’s
and my friend Karen’s grandparents lived across the street from me. We always walked home after school together. On this particular day of the storm we didn’t think it would be difficult because we only had to walk the width of the High School Football Field and across the road. We started out and soon found that it was much harder than we thought. We were walking straight into the blasting wind and the snow flakes were hitting our faces with a stinging force. We could only walk facing into the wind for a few minutes and then we would have to turn around and walk backwards. No matter how we walked, it was slow going, freezing cold and miserable. But finally after what seemed like forever we made it home. We dashed up the stairs and into the living room. Our faces were red and raw and even though we were bundled up with our heavy winter coats, hats, scarfs, gloves and heavy snow pants we were frozen to the bone.
We stood by the heater to warm up and then called our parents to let them know we were home safe. We heated up some hot chocolate, popped some popcorn and snuggled down in overstuffed chairs to read our books. We spent most of the afternoon munching on popcorn, drinking hot chocolate and reading while the wind raged outside.
About mid afternoon I heard a car pull up in front of the house, a car door slammed shut and my mother hurried inside.
I looked up at the clock, “What are you doing home so early. It is only 3:30. You usually work until 6:PM.” I asked.?
She answered, “Oh what a terrible storm, it is drifting snow everywhere. Karen your Dad and Mother gave me a ride home, they are waiting in the car. They want to try and make it home before their road blows in.” Karen grabbed her winter clothes and dashed out the door. They drove off in a flurry of blowing snow.
Mother shook her head and said, You won’t believe the storm outside. The whole town is shutting down. Everyone is just trying to get home. Mr. Carter one of the snow plow driver’s stopped in to buy some gloves and he said, “The snow plows cannot keep up with the drifting snow. We have had a lot of little storms since November, but this storm is going to be one of the worst yet.”
For one whole week the winds kept blowing, the snow kept drifting and more and more roads were drifted in. The temperature in our area dipped dangerously low. One of the coldest mornings was 31 degrees below zero. The next night we received another 21 inches of snow.
My friend Karen’s family farm was located just on the edge of town. An extremely high drift blew across their driveway,
completely shut it off. They ended up having to tunnel through the high drift to the one lane main road into town. The snow plows were able to keep the main roads around the town partly plowed out enough so we could move around a little.
The schools were closed for two whole weeks and I remember a delightful, wonderful time of reading and playing in lots of snow drifts as much as I wanted. When we had a lull in the weather all the kids in the neighborhood ended outside sledding down the drifts at the sides of the roads and playing in the deep snow.
Mother was called back to work, not because of people driving in their cars to shop but because of horse traffic. The country roads were all drifted in, so farmers with teams of horses and large farm sleds, were tied up on main street. Some of the wagons were loaded with full milk cans because the dairy farmers couldn’t get their milk picked up. Some of the wagons were being loaded with staples for themselves and their neighbors. Main Street looked like an old western town.
The first night she came home she was full of gratitude and thankfulness. During that fall of 1948 my Mother was hired on at JC Penny Department Store in Rigby, Idaho. She sold our small farm in Lewisville, and we moved to town. Had she not done that, she would have been snowed in at store leaving her two youngest children (my brother and me) snowed in and isolated at the little stucco house on the farm. What a terrifying thought that was.
There were hardships all over the area that I was not aware of because for me It was an exciting time off from school. But the storms of 1948 and 49 are sill remembered by the old-timers, (I guess I am one of those old-timers) as the worst storm of the century.
Jylene Morgan is a retired educator. She is passionate about the importance of reading aloud to children from top quality children’s books. Writing about her life experiences she captivates her audience by telling the tales of her family’s adventures. The first several books are written about funny exchanges that occur when human and wild animal’s lives come together.
To read more about me, my passion for reading aloud to children and my books go to www.jylenemorgan.com. Make sure you join our mailing list so you receive Jylene's "Most Treasured Books List". So you can also be the first to know when Jylene's next book, BUMMER and the Nanny Goat, is available.