A snowstorm I will never forget
Thursday April 11, 2013 | By:Dr. Robert L. Heichberger |
[photo1]I can vividly remember the blustery, frigid and windy snowstorms of my youth. I did not fully realize how much resilience was required, of my parents and grandparents.
A little after midnight, on Jan. 20, 1947, I heard southwestern winds swirling around our century-old farmhouse. It was the day after my 17th birthday.
From my upstairs bedroom, I listened, as the frosty gales picked up speed and fury, throughout the night. I slept fitfully, as the howling blasts shook the rafters and vibrated my bedroom window.
At 5 a.m., my usual rising time, I saw, to my amazement, that our back doorway was completely encased with drifted snow. More than 2 feet of snow covered the driveway leading to the barn. There was zero visibility outside. A blizzard dumped heavy snow on us, for the next three days.
Our farm was located on Lower East Road in the Boston hills. We were about 2 miles from Colden. Many schools were closed, that day, and for several days afterward, including my high school, Springville-Griffith Institute.
The town maintained most of the rural highways. Keeping the roads clear was almost impossible. Our being located at the highest point in Erie County meant that the winds could whip the snow into huge drifts. It was not uncommon to find roads, particularly those running north and south, completely plugged with snow.
The snow drifted as tall as the two-strand telephone wires. The phone service on our rural party line was knocked out of service.
It was nearly impossible for the town’s single plow to handle that amount of snow. Our country road was completely impassable, for more than two weeks. It was blocked by 15 – 20-foot, packed snowdrifts.
It was a challenge for me to walk 2 miles, in those conditions, to catch the school bus.
The only way farmers could get their milk to the milk plant was to haul the dozen or more 10-gallon cans, each weighing 120 pounds, to the nearest pickup point in Colden.
The team of horses was hitched to the farm sleigh, every day, and the milk was transported over the treacherous terrain. My dad had to shovel the horses free, when they got stuck in the snow drifts. The farmers somehow accomplished their work, against the wintry odds.
The first week of February arrived, bringing frigid temperatures and a shining sun. The town highway department decided to try to open our rural roadway. With the largest snow plow I had ever seen, attached to an Autocar truck, the snow removal process began.
More than a dozen of our neighbors used snow shovels to do what they could, to loosen the banks lying in the plow’s pathway. The truck bucked through the mounds and, after 20 hours, cut a single swath through the mile-long roadway.
These pages from times past will remain in my memory, for a lifetime. to come.