Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Weather or Not

by Connie Cortright

      I'm watching the first snowfall of the year outside my window. Not surprising since the calendar tells me that it's December already. I really can’t complain about the weather this fall in Wisconsin. We had a great October and November - at least in the Milwaukee area. I'm not sure that I'm at all ready for the cold winter weather to come.

     Of course, we don't want the kind of cold winters that my parents experienced when they were growing up. The stories that they've shared with me about the winters of the 30s makes me shiver.      In fact, both of my parents, in their grade schools years at the time, have attested to very harsh winters back then.

       My mother, who walked down the road to school from her dad’s farm, told me that during those years (1936-1939) she remembers walking on top of snow banks that were much taller than the cars driving on the road. She described it this way: “The snow banks were so high that I could almost touch the wires on the telephone poles”. Those are tall snow banks! 

       My dad also remembers his growing up winters. He said the winters often got down to 25 to 28 degrees below zero. The snow would drift up to ten feet deep on the gravel road going by their farm. A Caterpillar snowplow would then come past their house moving about a half mile an hour cleaning out the drifts and piling high snow banks. AND THEY NEVER CALLED OFF SCHOOL FOR A SNOW DAY BACK THEN! 

       When the roads were impassable, his pa would hook up the bobsled and horses for the trip to school. He would take the fresh milk to town at the same time. The kids would bundle up and sit in the back of the sled by the warm, fresh milk cans. To stay warm while driving the horses, his pa wore a fur coat extending from his neck to knees, with a fur hat and mittens. They would go across the fields, cutting the top wires of the fences on their land. The fields were more passable than the road. 

       When the roads were finally cleared, the kids would sit on their sled on top of the hill in front of their house and slide most of the way to school down the road. They’d have to take turns pulling each other the rest of the way to school. The trip home, up the high hill, wasn’t nearly as fun as the trip to school down the hill. 

       I’m not even sure if they are longing for those “good ol’ days”. Sounds mighty cold to me.

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