Sunday, December 13, 2009


The news people called it the biggest snowstorm since 1990. Fifteen inches and more in much of Wisconsin with wind to move it around, especially in rural areas. Shopping centers closed, colleges and universities shutdown, schools closed.

When I attended a country school, it never closed. Drifted roads, frigid temperatures, ice, electricity out—the school remained open. For the eight-years that I attended Chain O’ Lake School in the Town of Rose, Waushara County, I don’t recall a single day that it closed. Of course we all walked, some kids more than two miles one-way. During my early school years, the school didn’t have electricity, so a power outage somewhere didn’t matter. We did our lessons huddled around a big old rusty wood burning stove. If a blizzard raged during the day, the teacher might close things down a couple hours early so we could mush our way home before dark.

Big snowstorms made for good stories and fond memories—mostly. The down side was shoveling paths. Paths to the barn, to the granary, to the pump house, to the corn crib, to the straw stack, to the chicken house, to the woodshed, and of course to the outhouse for no one in our neighborhood had indoor plumbing in those days.

With the shoveling finished, out came the sleds and the skis. The fun side of winter. My grandfather made my first skis from birch wood. He steamed the wood so the ends turned up. But alas, he didn’t know how to make grooves in the bottom of the skis so I slid side-ways as often as I went forward down a hill. But great fun it was.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Enjoy the snow and pity those living in the southern climes who can’t look out a window and see the beauty of winter

WRITING WORKSHOP: The dates for my writing workshop at The Clearing in Door
County for 2010 are August 8-14. Contact for further information.

CHRISTMAS GIFTS: Consider my books, BLUE SHADOWS FARM, IN A PICKLE, and OLD FARM. See my website for details. Available in most book shops. Can also be ordered from my website.


January 4, 11:45-12:30. Wisconsin Public Radio, Ideas Network. Telling Wisconsin Stories. (With Larry Meiller)

January 14, 6:30 p.m. Madison History Round Table. West Side Business Men’s Association. Old Farm

January 19, Noon luncheon. SAIL (Supporting Active Independent Lives) Black Hawk County Club, Madison. Telling Stories—Why and How.


Bill said...

What a toughening! I never had these experiences and I guess now I am the poorer for it.

Jeanne Engle said...

I remember the storm of 1990. I was working in Sun Prairie at the time and a new general manager was starting that day. He was driving up from Illinois. All we wanted was for him to arrive so he could close the plant and we could all go home! I couldn't believe how unprepared some of our employees were - no hats nor gloves. Some ended up staying overnight because it was too dangerous to drive home. However, the Cap Times managed to print and was even DELIVERED that day. I guess neither snow nor sleet nor white of storm could keep the carrier from his appointed rounds!