Granny's Notes - the writing of Sue Gerard

Mild winter doesn’t mean March won’t bring snow

The Romans warned of "The Ides of March." Caesar was murdered by enemies and former friends in the "ides" - March 15 plus a day or two before and after. Other dire things were expected to happen about that time, and the feeling was passed through generations without reference to the old Roman dictator.

To farmers getting ready to sow oats, a drastic change of weather was a dire thing. In 1960, Central Missouri’s weather for the entire month was "the ides." March came in like a lion and went out with melted snow having caused horribly deep mud!

Chub called me at the college. "We’ll have to travel together," he said. "Our kids have gone home with Emily Kay and Bill ..."

"Why?" I interrupted.

"The weather," he said. "Look out the window; There are 4 inches of snow on the ground, and we’ll get 2 more before dark. The schools are all closed."

The 23 patterned-glass windows were steamed: the natatorium temperature stayed the same when morning rain turned into heavy snow.

I dismissed the class and dressed hurriedly. Chub was a construction inspector at the University of Missouri, and he kept concrete blocks in the back of his pickup to increase traction. I followed him.

Our neighbor, Willis Smith, had broken a path with his tractor where drifts were building up on Range Line Road. Strong winds from the west were sending Kansas snow to Illinois, and drifts were building up across the road from west to east. Visibility was near zero, and the temperature was still going down. Darkness threatened. We honked at the Browns’ home, and Nancy and Walt, our kids, came stumbling through the blizzard, covering their faces and leaning into the blowing snow.

Vemer’s Ford Road, extending east to west, was not drifted. Chub and Willis talked it over and decided that he’d go home and we would call within 30 minutes; he’d bring the tractor if we hadn’t called.

I heard him call. "We’re home; almost hung up on a drift near the mailbox."

Chub arranged to "borrow" fodder for our beef cows for a few days at least; Willis had some stored in a barn, and our hay was in bales outside.

The cows were not in sight, and we knew they’d be huddled together with their calves where a rock bluff and a thicket of trees would protect them. We had to get hay or fodder to them the next day. Chub told the kids that cows can kick through thin ice but they can’t paw through with their hooves the way horses can.

That was during the worst winter in Missouri history; snow came on old snow. If the prediction was 2 inches, we’d get 4. If 4 were predicted, we’d get 5 or 6.

Chub and I left the van and pickup truck in our driveway near the county road, and we went back and forth on the tractor for more than a month!

When the snows melted, the water seeped down and made horribly deep mud.

Everybody had a favorite mud story; mine came from our beloved weatherman, Dave Homer: A man, walking, found a hat on the road. He picked it up, and there was a face under the hat.

"Oh! Fellow, you’re in a terrible fix," he said.

The face replied, "Not as bad as this mule I’m riding!"

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