Michael Rustad's Memories

Northern Minnesota Storms

Submitted to website: 17 Sep 1999

Hurricane Floyd brought driving rain to the east coaston Thursday. I was preparing to teach my commercial payments class and learnedthat our school was dismissed. I am on the faculty at Suffolk with MichaelAvery who also hails from Minnesota. Michael and I were having lunch inthe faculty cafeteria when we learned that school was cancelled. Michaelcommented to me that Minnesotans would certaintly not cancel school fora mere hurricane or tropical storm. He remembers piles of snow in Minneapolisthat did not slow down Minnesotans. I told him that as a resident of N.W.Minnesota that we considered Minneapolis to be a city in the sun! I toldhim about how my friends and I donned sun glasses for a trip to Minneapolisin March of 1970. Minneapolis was a trip to the tropics after a winter inN.W. Minnesota.

As I drove down Route 89 through New Hampshire and Vermontin the driving rain, my mind's eye was taken back to Minnesota storms ofthe 1950s and 1960s. We lived a mile and a half outside of Humboldt on theformer Clow farm across the road from Alfred Loers and down the lane fromHarris Easton.

We also considered the Wilbert Hemmes family to be neighbors. Many of ourneighbors planted trees in the mid 1960s which helped to slow down the windswhipping across the prairies. Anyone living in the era will attest to theseverity of Minnesota snow storms. We would routinely use floats to packthe snow down because there was too much snow to clear with a snow plowmany winters. I have vivid memories of my Grandfather with a bear coat coachinga team of Belgian horses (I remember them as Belgians but they were drafthorses) pulling a stone shed to pack the snow. When my Dad took over thefarm in 1957, the horses were replaced by a Massey-Harris and MinneapolisMoline tractor. In any case, Dad would pack the snow down.

My Boston friends do not believe me when I tell them thatI once had a bottle of coke frozen open in my pocket when I was walkingon the UND campus!

As a child we were cautiously optimistic about being dismissedfrom school only if there was a blizzard of the century. We would occasionallylose a few hours because of an early dismissal or late opening of school.It was quite unusual for us to have school cancelled unless visibility wasextremely impaired. In the Boston area, WBZ television has lists of schoolclosings even if there is only 3-4 inches of snow!

Boston area drivers, known for their reckless indifferenceon the roadways, become ultra-cautious at the first snow flake. I find itrather amusing to see Boston roadways screech to a halt in conditions thatwould not faze a true Minnesotan used to driving with chains on their tires.I have never seen a head-bolt heater in New England. Head bolt heaters werestandard fare in Minnesota unless you preferred to walk. I wonder whetherthe harsh winters of Minnesota innoculated many of us for a life time ofdealing with the travails of tropical storms. Although we never had a tropicalstorm in Minnesota, the Hurricane Floyd made me think of how well Minnesotanscoped in severe weather. This is just another example of the resourcefulnessof residents of the Great Northwest Region of Minnesota (also known as theNorthwest Kingdom).
Another friend in Boston commented on how Northwest Kingdomers cope withnatural disasters. He observed how people in Florida are interviewed afterlosing their homes and sobbing about their loss. When most residents ofGrand Forks (Flood of 1997) were interviewed, they told the interviewerhow they would build a better Grand Forks.
viewerhow they would build a better Grand Forks.