November 21, 1948
Dear Aretha and all,
I guess you’ve heard of our blizzard so I thought I’d write and tell you we’re all okay. Maurice had to go out that night, of course, (he was a railway mail carrier so worked mail on the train - patty) so I had a lot of time to worry about how he was getting along.
It was getting awfully bad out by mid-afternoon Thursday and I was beginning to wonder whether the kids could get home from school.
One car had already gone into the ditch out here by our barn and nearly turned over.
The people weren’t hurt but awfully scared. They came in here and called their son out from Dodge City to come get them and he said he had a time getting out here and that was about 3:30.
I was getting worried but hadn’t woke Maurice up as he had gotten to bed late and I thought he needed sleep for I knew he’d try to go out. The kids made it home okay but I guess Mrs. Leonard who brings them had a time getting here. It was almost impossible to see.
Right after the kids got home, I discovered we had no electricity so therefore we had no water and the furnace blower wasn’t working. We wouldn’t be able to have the furnace turned up high enough to do much good so I decided I’d better awaken Maurice.
He got some water out of the feed room just off the basement where we have a faucet connected or piped in from the windmill tank. He brought up two buckets and put in the kitchen and put 5 gallons on the back porch -- also a five gallon bucket in the bathroom to use to flush the stool. We were lucky because lots of people had to melt snow for water.
Maurice asked me to fix him a double lunch and he’d go right on in to work as soon as he did chores and put chains on the car. A short while before he left a neighbor (the man who brings Phyllis home from school at noon (she must have been in kindergarten-patty) came in and said he’d like to get a ride into town because his road was blocked and he couldn’t get out and also he had no windshield wipers.
He had to walk over a quarter of a mile and most of it up a side road which was badly drifted over and the wind was blowing about 55 mph. The snow was big wet flakes that hit with such force and splattered so that he was about fagged out and nearly frozen. He thought he wasn’t going to make it. He went into town with Maurice.
Just before they left, a woman came to the door. She’d gone off the road into the ditch just a hundred feet or so west of the house.
She couldn’t see the house at all but could tell there was a windmill so thought there must be a house.
The house is just about 15 feet from the road but snow was just so thick it was hard to see it. Maurice told her she could either go in with him or stay here but that he was going to get in if he had to walk.
She said she’d had enough so she’d just stay here. Her home was in Ford which is about 30 miles east. She was headed home and her son and husband were there expecting her.
Maurice left about 6:30 and it was getting sort of dark. He wanted to make it in before dark. He took his fur lined army surplus flight pants along and wore his hunting coat over his leather jacket.
It was a good thing he did for he was soaked by the time he reached town. He had to keep his head outside all the way and go at a snail’s pace. It took an hour or two. (I believe the edge of town was only 2-3 miles from thehouse - patty) Of course I didn’t know about that until last night when he got home.
We had to light some candles and our gasoline lantern. I was sure glad Maurice bought it just in case of such an emergency. I lit the gas stove we have in the front bedroom and the one in Patty’s bedroom and the oven so we didn’t get too cold.
Also, there was so much snow packed on the windows that it sort of served as insulation.
About 8:00 there was a knock on the door and it was a man from the snow plow crew. He said he’s like to leave several men here because there were 50 or more cars stalled between here and Dodge and he couldn’t get any farther than here himself.
He said some of the men weren’t dressed warm enough and were pretty cold. He’d leave some others at homes along the road and take those more warmly dressed back to town. Three men came in.
Our phone worked all along although many lines were down. With the 4 people staying here trying to reach their homes (none could) and me trying to call the train station to see if I could learn any news of Maurice’s train and all the other seven parties on our party line trying to use it the line was busy all evening.
Maurice couldn’t reach us by phone so I had no idea whether he got to town or not but I knew that he would make it if possible. I did learn that his train hadn’t even arrived in town from the west yet when about 9:00 we decided to go to bed.
I made a pallet on the floor for the men, put Mrs. Reigel in Patty’s room and Patty slept with me.
When we got up the next morning, we had another man. He’d come in after we went to bed and lain down on the pallet with the other men. The snow plow crew left him here and they worked all up and down the road finding shelter for people.
I fixed breakfast for them with Mrs. Reigel’s help. They were all awfully nice and sure appreciated being here. They fed the pigs and got some more water up.
I had dinner ready for them about noon when Harold Reinert (our neighbor and friend -- you know) who runs the Kaiser-Frazer & Willys Overland Plant came in and said they’d been able to get to town and back with one of their Jeep 4 wheel drive pickup trucks.
He thought we might need some groceries. Three of the men decided to go in with him and try to go to work. They couldn’t get to their homes which are in Fort Dodge.
All the five who were here had it announced on the radio that they were here and safe since they couldn’t reach their families by phone and they might hear it on the radio. This announcement and our name was given over the radio every little bit.
The man who came in after we were in bed was a Mr. Robinson who lives up the road a half mile east. He’s the father of a girl Patty’s gotten friendly with since school started and whose name is also Patty and is in the 5th grade.
They’ve only lived there since September. Anyway, Mr. Robinson wrapped his legs in gunny sacks, dressed up warm and said he could make it in daylight. It was still blowing pretty hard but wasn’t snowing.
I had learned that Maurice’s train was stalled in a snow drift at Bellefont about 50 miles away. That’s where they spent Thursday night and most of Friday.
Mrs. Reigel’s brother who lives in Dodge City got a wrecker out about 4:00 and they got her car out of the ditch so she went back to Dodge City with him so we were alone again.
We still didn’t have lights so we went to bed about 8:30. I couldn’t sleep -- too much excitement and nervousness, I guess. I was lying there and about 9:00 I saw a light flash on and off and couldn’t imagine what it was.
Then the bathroom light went on so I got up to turn it, the living room light and both the front yard and back porch lights off -- I guess the kids had turned them on when the power was out. Then about 10:00 the phone rang and it was Maurice. He was in town. He said the train only got to Kinsley about 60 miles away and turned around and came back.
He had to go right back out on another run but at least I knew he was safe. He then got home last night about 6:00. The train got in at 4:30 but our car wouldn’t start.
On the way into town the hood had blown up by the wind and the engine was full of snow and ice. He went down to Reinert’s Motor Company and they let him have a Jeep pickup to drive home.
He’d had quite some experience too. He’d picked up a man and his two daughters and took them into town with him on Thursday evening. They were so cold that they were shaking all the way.
The reason his train was so late was because they went real slow and when they saw a stalled car the crew got off and plowed their way through the snow and brought the people to the train -- whether they wanted to leave their car or not.
Most of them wanted to. One woman was headed to Dodge to the hospital to have her baby. She waited till she got to Dodge. Maurice’s extra clothes came in handy as they dried them out and the crew members wore them while their soaked clothes dried.
Maurice shared his lunch with his crew and gave his coffee to the train crew (a quart and a pint) because they were getting out and rescuing people and he thought they needed it more than he did.
They got a chance to get a little food in Kinsley and then went to a restaurant when they got back to Dodge.
However, they went a long time just on Maurice’s lunch and I don’t know how the other people got along. Maurice couldn’t sleep though. He said he got about 3 hours at the most but he got about $50 overtime.
There are drifts here six to eight feet high in places.
Hope you are all well and didn’t have a blizzard. We’re sure thankful we’re all well and together again. I’d better quit, it’s mail time nearly, love, Tessie Bea
Maurice said that of all the men he’d talked to the most any got was 2 pheasant cocks in the 3 days so it looks like they didn’t have much luck this year so that’s one consolation about our visit getting ruined.