Were Winters Really Worse In The “Old Days?” Here’s The (Ahem) Facts
It's been 15 years or so now that my parents left the planet. But I can still hear my Dad talk about "winter in the old days". For him of course, the old days were back in the 1920s and 1930s.
"We had to walk to school uphill both ways through six feet of snow ." " It was so cold our words would freeze in mid-air as soon as we said them." "The chickens would lay frozen eggs."
I thought he was crazy. And he was a little bit.
So of course I said the same things to my kids, and then to my Grandkids.
They think I'm crazy. And I am a little bit.
We lived on a rented 80-acre farm. The buildings were all old, the house, the hog house, the granary, the barn (which burned down), the chicken coop. It was the only place on that mile stretch of gravel road just a mile south of Leota, Minnesota. And while the winter on that place and in that time ring cold on the printed page, the memories sure do bend comfortably to the warm side.
Those winter memories include straw bales, plastic over windows, gas lanterns and rope.
The strawbales would be stacked around the house. Apparently that 'ol house wasn't insulated too well, so the straw bales would ring the house to keep the wind and cold out, and the big oil burner in the living room would be cranked up. It all didn't exactly warm the house, but it kept it from getting...well...too cold.
The plastic would go over all the windows, downstairs, and up. Tacked up tight over the windows on the outside, it still wasn't quite enough to keep it warm in that north upstairs bedroom, so that door would stay closed and my brother and I would share the south bedroom, the one that had the warm stove pipe going up through it.
The gas lanterns (kerosene actually) were always kept handy, winter or summer, because the lights tended to go out some. A blizzard would hit and those wires strung along that gravel road couldn't handle it...and it just might be a bit before they were fixed.
Oh, and the rope? If I recall correctly (and often I don't), it was the winter of 1968-69 when we got around 100" of snow through that winter season. I mean, it was piled high and stayed that way! Riding in the car with my dad and mom (when the road would finally be opened) was like riding through a tunnel. And I remember my dad on a couple of occasions tying rope (or maybe twine) together and running it from the house to the hog house and granary because it was snowing so hard you literally couldn't see your hand in front of your face. So...you'd hang on to the rope (or twine) and follow along.
It wasn't exactly Little House on the Prairie but it seemed like it was in the same neighborhood. At least in my memory
There would be days where we didn't go anywhere. The road was drifted shut and besides, the weather was too bad anyway. Dad would clear out the yard best he could with a loader on that old 'A' John Deere and best of all, no school!
But of course, when there was school, we walked through the snow up hill both ways. And it was so cold the words froze in midair as soon as they came out of our mouth. And yes, the chickens would lay frozen eggs.
I'm tellin' ya kids, it's true.
As I remember it.
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