Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Snow

Last night we experienced a major snow event here in Cache Valley and I'm sure many of the rest of the family got in on the same storm.  It came with a fury and lasted only a couple of hours in which about eight inches of snow fell and all of it was accompanied by strong winds.  We were expecting it as it had been forecast right down to the hour and the intensity of the storm and the following drastic drop in temperatures.  We were prepared and so had no need to fear.  This storm took me back in my memories to our growing up days in Bear Lake Valley and experiences we had with the weather while living there. 
     As I think back on those days, I have come to believe that the weather actually had a major role in the way we grew up and on our character development as well. One particular experience stands out in my mind.  I forget the exact year but it would have been when I was about eight or nine years old as I recall.
In Lanark as well as most of the rest of rural Bear Lake Valley nearly all families depended on small dairy operations for a livelihood. By this time most of the small creameries which had been privately owned and existed in many of the small communities around the valley had been consolidated and a dairy cooperative had been created  with a large creamery and cheese plant built just about a mile north of Paris.  Farmers from all over the valley would send their few ten gallon cans of milk to the creamery in Paris.  The milk was picked up from each place and hauled to Paris by a milk truck driver.  I remember that Uncle Ivan, mother's brother, was the milk truck driver who came each morning to our place and picked up the milk.  He was always singing a song or humming a tune, even when the weather was bad or he got stuck in the snow. 
     Anyway, I remember this terrible storm we had.  The wind blew and blew and it snowed and snowed for several days.  The drifts were immense and for all intents and purposes we were cut off from the rest of the world.  We couldn't even see across the street during this entire time.  One thing that did go on however, was the feeding of livestock and milking of the cows.  After a couple of days all the milk cans were full, and the milk truck could not make its rounds as all of the roads were covered with huge drifts of snow.  Milk was essentially every ones major source of income and as the blizzard continued it became apparent the the farmers would all have to dump their milk, as there was no place to put it.  One thing about cows, they wont hold more than a days milk at a time and preferably only a half days, thus the morning and night milkings.  Dad became concerned about having to dump his milk and knew that all of the other farmers around town were having to do the same.  This could become a major problem for them, and he knew it,  so he harnessed up his team and hitched them to the sleigh and went off into the blizzard.  He soon was joined by another farmer, Dave Parker, who lived about a mile away.  Together they went from one end of Lanark to the other picking up all of the milk cans  full of milk from all the farmers, loading them on to the sleigh in the blizzard and taking them to the creamery in Paris six miles away, where the milk was dumped into the large vats for making cheese.  Then the empty cans were loaded once again onto the sleigh and Dad and Dave were off into the raging blizzard once again.  They now had to return all of the cans so the farmers could refill them once again.  I remember that as the day wore on Mother was very anxious and concerned about Dad out in the blizzard all day.  About dark, the door opened and their stood Dad plastered from head to foot with a thick coat of snow, but thankfully safe and sound.I especially remember how the snow was caked onto his whiskers and face.  I have often thought about this experience and have reflected on what made Dad do this.  First of all, he was physically strong and he was brave.  He was never afraid or reluctant to reach out and help someone in need.  He had faith in the Lord and in himself and even in his team of horses.  He cared about his neighbors and knew that their predicament was equally as dire as his own.  He knew that there were neighbors out there, who had the same concerns that he did, and that they would be willing to help if they could, and that they would be grateful for the help they received, if they couldn't. He did not hesitate, even at great risk even of his life,  to come to their aid.  This was not the only occasion in which he came to the aid of someone in need.  It was a part of him. Throughout the years, I have always been grateful for the example that was shown to me on that wintry day and in the howling blizzard.  People who have spent their lives in the Bear Lake Valley have a name for these blizzards, which happened then much more frequently than they do now, or at least, so it seemed.  They say: "That was a real Bear Laker."

     Another event of my youth associated with the winter weather occurred during my high school years.  I was a Freshman and Ellis was a Senior.  We both attended Fielding High School in Paris. 
There were not a lot of clubs and school activities beyond ball games and dances, but one was a banquet put on by the FFA (Future Farmers of America).  Ellis and I were both a part of this organization and were in line for some sort of award, I think. At this time Dad had a 1950 Plymouth and took us to the dinner and program in Paris.  I can't remember for sure, but they must have had a baby sitter for Brenda, Nina, Reed, and Mark.  Brenda was not old enough to care for them I'm sure and our parents would certainly never have left them alone without adequate care.  Anyway the evening went by pretty much as planned until we started home.  By  the time we reached the Lanark Road the wind was blowing and the snow was drifting heavily across the road. Dad turned on to the road and started towards home.  Soon it became apparent that the car would never be able to break its way through the snow drifts which covered the road and the storm was not letting up.  Mother had been nursing Mark, who at the time was still just a baby.  She knew, she had to get home, and so they assigned Ellis to take me back to Paris and go to Grandma and Grandpa Eborn's and ask to stay with them.  Of course, they let us.  Dad and Mom then took off on foot through the drifting snow, knowing that somehow they just had to get home, Mom to nurse the baby and take care of the kids they had left at home and Dad to milk the cows in the morning. Somehow, they made it and all went well, but it once again showed the love and determination they had for all of us.  First of all, they were supportive of Ellis and me in our school activities and secondly they were not to be dissuaded from the even more
challenging task of getting home so they could care for the younger children.  It took about three days before the roads were finally open and we could return home.  Most of the school buses couldn't make it in to Paris during this time, but the Paris kids and, of course, Ellis and I and some others who also couldn't make it home had to go to school anyway.  Needless to say, school was more play than work during those days, but we, nonetheless, felt a little put upon.  This story is true to the best of my recollection, but there may have been a few things I'd forgotten or got mixed up.  Maybe Ellis could clarify if need be.

By Bart

4 comments:

  1. Pretty Accurate. Car was stopped at about the Bill Kulkai(sp) farm. This storm lasted for several days and finally the road had to be opened by a big D6 Cat with a large v shaped plow on the front. The down side was that because we went back to Paris for a few days to wait out the storm we had to go to school. The other kids that rode the school bus got to stay home until the road was plowed. Mom and Dad walked all the way home in a really bad storm with minimal winter clothing. I'm sure that it was over two miles. They were tough people and definately from pioneer stock. I also remember that after the roads were plowed along the Lanark Road that the banks on the sides of the road would frequently be high enough to block of the view of the cars and in some places the School Bus.

    ReplyDelete
  2. The event where Dad went out in the storm to gather milk for the neighbors had a good ending but it was a vicious storm and we ran out of wood for the stoves. The wind was so strong that we did not dare go out to bring in any more wood from the wood pile which was probably 50 yards from the house. We were quiet young and it was just to risky. We ended up putting on our warmest clothing and Mother wrapped us in quilts until dad got home. You must remember that we lived in a log home at that time and it was very well ventilated to the outside elements. Oh for the "good old days" huh.

    ReplyDelete
  3. My older brothers, Ellis and Bart, do not have the memory of that Bear Lake Blizzard that I have. I was the baby sitter that snowy night. The baby was well fed as the evening started. Mother had said they would only be gone a short time. Well, after the first hour, Mark started to cry and nothing could change the fact that he wanted to be fed. The weather was howling outside. I became very nervous, worried and frustrated as nothing woulde calm my little brother. I walked the floor for several hours before Mother and Dad arrived home. They knew that they had to get home to the baby. They were snowy and tired and very glad to get home, and I was Sooooo glad to see them. .....memories of Brenda

    ReplyDelete
  4. Same event, different perspective. That's why we need everybody's help on this blog.

    ReplyDelete