Granny's Notes - the writing of Sue Gerard

February was a taste of spring, but you shouldn’t trust March

Farmers lived by the weather; some read the almanac and lived according to the phases of the moon. Some planted seeds or set hens or dehorned calves by the moon, but we Meyerses didn’t even have an almanac!

We listened to the 10 o’clock whistle for the weather prediction and, when the roughest part of the winter was past and spring seemed on its way, I’d recall Helen Vemer’s emphatic warning: "But don’t trust March!"

In 1960, I was teaching my 4 o’clock swimming class at Christian College - now Columbia College. The natatorium was warm and humid.

My husband, Chub, called saying, "I’ll pick you up in 15 minutes. The temperature is near zero, and snow is drifting on Rangeline Road. Nancy and Walt went home with the Browns; the school bus is stuck in a drift on Rangeline."

I looked and discovered that ice was forming on the inside corners of all 23 windows surrounding the swimming pool! I dismissed my class and dressed quickly. I was riding with Chub, and we drove a different way home to avoid the disabled school bus.

The snow was still coming down, and wind was building higher drifts.

Willis Smith drove his tractor part way through the worst drift to meet our children, who were walking to meet him.

Walt, 9 years old, was so short he’d get one leg out and actually be sitting on snow to get the other leg out with each step. Willis loaded our kids on his tractor and backed it out in its own tracks.

Chub and I were at the corner of the road, where the wind was terrific but not building drifts on our east/west road. Our driveway was impassable, so Chub cut the fence at a place where we could drive through the wooded area to the pasture where snow from Kansas was on its way to Illinois without stopping!

We were just one family among many that March night. The Raymond Smiths had seven guests for supper, plus overnight and breakfast. Mae Brown brought in her groceries from the stopped car and shared various items - to feed the 11 people at the Smiths’ impromptu bunking party. The next day the Boone County road grading crew and equipment freed the school bus and made a narrow slot in that drift - wide enough for one car at a time. The wind subsided, and the sun came out, but there were cold winter days ahead.

Willis Smith loaned us corn stalks to feed our cattle for days! Creeks were frozen solid, and ice was very thick on ponds. The cows crowded around the person wielding the big double-bladed ax to cut though 4 inches of ice to water. I did this alone one morning, and the toughest part was to get the cut chunk of ice out of the hole because of cows crowding in as soon as they smelled water. March 1960 set records. We four Gerards rode in the front of the pickup, and two neighbors rode in the back with their shovels ready to scoop. Then there was mud! My station wagon sat unused for five weeks. On spring days this year, I’m recalling, "Don’t trust March."

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