Scott Clow's Memories

Blizzard of 1966

It all started as a calm warm March day, in 1966. I wasin the 8th grade in Humboldt that year. My mom was the secretary of theHumboldt school, so we usually got a ride home from school every night.That particular day we had to wait for my sister, Becky and my mom to finishchoir practice at the Humboldt United Methodist church. My dad kept thecar that day and came into town to pick us up. We usually gave the Armstronggirls a ride home on those Wednesday evenings because they also were membersof the Church choir. I recall that evening as being strange, and extremelycalm. The sky was kind of yellowish-green in appearance and we knew someheavy snow was moving into our area. When we got home to the farm my jobwas to feed the sheep and put hay down for the cows for the evening. Thebarometric pressure was such that the air was very heavy. So heavy thatit almost hurt your ears. Our family dog was very uneasy that night, anddid not even want to be petted like usual. After the evening chores, wesettled into the evening with supper and watching TV, to see what weatherwas coming our way. Luckily on our way home that day, we stopped at Mayme'sstore in Humboldt for extra provisions due to the expected weather thatwas heading our way. Lucky for us, the extra food came in handy as by thelast day of the storm we were down to baking powder biscuits, and cold pork& beans.

As the storm bore down on us we were expecting quite ajar, but nothing quite so powerful was expected. The wind came up and thesnow started to fly, and continued for days. I recall how funny the stormwas because I remember seeing water waves in the ditch by the house, whilethe blizzard raged on. We drove an old Dodge car to save on the newer Chevroletcar in the winter months. The roads were so bad that plowing snow with thefamily car would have been disastrous to its well being. The old Dodge wasexceptional at plowing snow, so that was what it was used for. We parkedthe Dodge in the garage that night, and closed the door. The door had icein the railing, so the door remained open about 4 feet, which, for the mostpart, we figured was not a problem.

We would make that unbelievable walk to the barn everymorning , noon and night, I believed that we would not make it each time.I recall following my dad to the barn on the second day and all of a suddenhe stopped and I ran into him. We had walked into a wall of snow that hadnot been there earlier in the day. After the storm stopped, that wall ofsnow was over 30 feet high crossing our path to the barn. It was concavein appearance, so it was quite easy to walk into during a blizzard withoutknowing it.

On the third day of the storm, my dad was concerned abouthaving me come out into the storm, because he was afraid that he would loseme in the white out conditions. He went out at noon and was not gone verylong when he came in breathlessly asking me to get dressed up and come outwith him. It seemed the sheep barn had collapsed from the tremendous weightof the wet collected snow. I got ready and went out with him and what Isaw that day will never leave me. The small barn where the sheep had beenkept, had collapsed on 60 head of sheep. The roof fell such that the wallsremained upright, but the roof had fallen in on itself leaving a gap inthe center of the floor about 5 feet wide the full length of the building.Inside that gap stood 10 sheep with snow covering them as they stood thereawaiting their fate. The edge of the roof remained attached to the wallsand made a tunnel all around the outside edge of the building. My dad askedme to crawl around that edge to see if I could get the rest of the sheepout. Due to the time of year, we were just starting to lamb for the yearalso. The sights that befell me were very hard to conceive of. I found lambscaught in gates with limbs almost ripped off. What a terrible thing to view,and I cried as I went about trying to save the unhurt lambs, and sheep.We readied another barn for the sheep that survived with new beds of strawfrom the large barn. I remember walking into the hayloft door from the snowbank in front of the barn, getting bales of straw, and carrying them tothe new barn for the fortunate sheep. Not being able to see very well, wecontinued to make the barn as comfortable as possible for those remainingsheep. We later found out that I had been stepping over a live power linethat fed the barn, missing it by just inches. After completing that exhaustingjob, we returned to the warm confines of our house to catch our breath andwarm up. My dad decided to go to the barn to feed the 12 head of dairy cattletheir noon meal. Earlier in the storm he had released all the new born calvesin the barn to be with their mothers. He was afraid due to the veracityof the storm, we may not be able to return, and wanted to make sure thecalves would be able to drink milk. We fed the cattle huge amounts of hay,with the worry that we would not be able to return for a day or so. My dadcame back from the barn with a look of disbelief. He said that he crawleddown into the barn from the hayloft and it seemed extremely quit. He stoppedto look around and found all the dairy cows and calves lying dead on thefloor. It seemed the heavy snow had pulled the wires loose from the barnand the live wires had fallen across the steel watering pipes and each cowwas electrocuted, almost executed where they stood. And of course the calveswere touching their mothers and also were killed. The snow was so high thatevery window was covered in the barn so it seemed like a tomb of dead animals.After the snow stopped, I recall we had to go to Ruggles Clay in Hallockand get some lye to cover the bodies with to help dry up the carcasses.The barn was so covered with snow, it would have been impossible to retrievethose bodies , and remove them for proper disposal.

The storm stopped on Sunday night, and school was cancelledthe next day due to the terrible amount of snow. The garage, where the Dodgecar was parked, was opened to find a wall of snow and no car in site. Wecommissioned the Twamley brothers to plow snow out of the yard with theirD-8 Cat and dozers. They hooked onto the Dodge with a chain and pulled itout of the garage, snow bank and all coming out. The funny part was thatthe Chevrolet car stood between the house and garage and not a speck ofsnow was on it anywhere. It had all blown away, while the car in the garagehad been buried. On Tuesday school was set, only for the kids who couldget out to attend. I figured I had at least the next week off, but no luck.Due to my mom being the Secretary, Mr. O.A. Roberts, acting Superintendent,said he would drive out to the county road, if we could make it to the road.We had to walk that half mile to the road while he picked us up. I rememberwishing my mom had not gotten that job as secretary.

I also recall that we lost power that last day before thestorm subsided. We had to eat cold beans and wore our parkas just to staywarm. Luckily the storm did not bring extremely cold weather so we did nothave any trouble staying warm. I recall we spent our time playing gamesand listening to a transistor radio for the weather reports.

Later that spring we encountered a flood which drove usoff the home place into Humboldt. We moved back to the farm for the summer,and then moved to town permanently that fall of 1966. I look back on thatstorm as being the end of our livestock days on the farm. In some ways Iwas excited to move to town, with access to Pearl's Inn, and to the otherkids. Today I realize that was the end of my carefree days as a farm kid.The work was hard, but the life was extremely simple. The simplicity iswhat I miss the most, I guess.d.The work was hard, but the life was extremely simple. The simplicity iswhat I miss the most, I guess.