I tend to look far back because old memory banks are full of so many, including growing up on a country farm in Edmunds County and attending a country school.
I know Memories may sound like a record-breaker, but it seems to interest the younger generation, who seem to find the life of a farm boy growing up in the country in the 1930s and 1940s interesting. They might even imagine it wasn’t real when it was so real.
Some memories of this elderly writer go back to the winters of the 1940s. Comparing the winters back then and now, back then they were always terrible. Snow feet seemed to stay with us and leave the roads almost unusable.
Thus, getting to school was a real problem. So, the neighbor to the south connected a two-wheeled trailer, built sides on it, filled it with nice, clean straw and covered the top with an old rag of grain. He tied the whole shebang to an old Alice Chalmers tractor. Looking back, it’s hard to tell how the world began with extreme cold temperatures that seemed to last for months on end.
Anyway, we got to school by keeping old Alice on a snowy road across the country. If we slipped off the snowy road, the tractor was stuck in deep snow and someone had to come with another tractor and pull us back.
Starting a tractor in the winter has always caused a lot of grief. There was no electricity at the time and no way to connect a heater to heat the jars until it started. It will probably run all night and all day because starting a cold humidor tractor is usually a real chore.
The farmer who lived in our south would come pick me up and my sister, load his kids in the trailer, drive us to school, come back after school to take us home.
Of course we children had to wear warm clothes to withstand the bitter cold. The trip to school from each farm was about 3 or 4 miles, and the old tractor was moving too slowly to slip off the snowy road.
Heading out cross-country and ignoring completely closed roads made the trip a little shorter. Of course, at that time, there were very few fences, and it was not a problem to cross the country on the diagonal.
Once, with the help of some federal funding, bulldozers were hired to plow our roads, and I was glad I could come and go by car. But at that time, it seemed as if the wind was constantly blowing and it wasn’t long before all the roads closed again. Therefore, the roads did not remain free of snow for long because ancient Mother Nature just wanted to close them and no one tried to resist them.
Of course, being farmers in the 30s and 40s, we had to deal with one harsh winter after another. Occasionally Pa would walk to Witonka – about 3 miles away – and play cards with the local townspeople. Then he came home in time to do chores again. We almost had some kind of farm animal and they all demanded that we feed them twice a day.
I remember my mom telling us about being a young mother and how she wouldn’t see another human being, except for immediate family, for two months. As a new mom with your mom really like her baby, whenever she cried, she would cry too, longing for some human contact alongside her new husband and baby.