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The blizzard of 1952

February 17, 2014
By Ellayne Conyers , Marshall Independent

Part II:

We were completely lost. I don't know how many hours we went on like this. Then I felt something hard under my right hand. I dug away at the snow and uncovered the top of a little round wooden fence post. We were heading south, not east, and the open prairie field lay before us, with no chance of survival, much less a chance of reaching the cattle. But, attached to this post would be the wire fence that traveled east, turned north, then turned east again and led right to the barn. We could make it if we kept following the fence. First we had to dig down to find the wire, keep digging and uncovering the fence as we struggled along. We were going to make it to the barn - we were going to live to see other days.

After more hours of struggle, we found the barn. Dad pulled the door open and we went inside. We tried to get the animals out of the barn - but of course they did not want to face the blizzard - so we chased them out and they headed to the stock tank for water. We lay down on the soft straw-covered floor to rest. Finally, I said to my father, "We made it here; the cattle are going to be all right. Let's just stay here until the storm is over. We will be safe, and we will be warm here." "No, he said, because your mother will call your brother and he will try to come over and find us, and there is no chance that he can make it over here with no fences to follow or any kind of clue to follow."

So after a while, and after the cattle started returning to the warmth and security of the barn, we headed back out into the storm. We took the same route back, following the fence line, digging each other out when we fell down. It was now completely dark, which didn't make much difference because we couldn't see anyway. The fence took us west and then turned south, then west again until we reached the end of the fence. That meant that we must try to turn ourselves north in order to get to the house. If we missed the house we would be in the grove of trees to the far north. We took our direction knowing that we could be climbing a hill if we were headed correctly, otherwise - who knew what would happen. We kept going and going. Then suddenly I ran into a wall. I looked up and I saw a faint light in front of my face. I had run into the house, and I was standing in front of a window in which stood a faint burning candle. My mother must have placed a candle in the window. We had made it.

We walked around the house and found the door, walked into the kitchen and collapsed onto the floor. My mother screamed with delight at the sight of us. She told how she had lit candles and placed one in every window to guide us back to the house. We didn't tell her that there was no way we would ever have seen a tiny candle flickering in that raging blizzard. But I had seen it when I ran up against the house - so it had worked. And, she told us, she was just ready to give up on our returning so she was going to call her son to come and find us.

We took off all our wet outer clothing, stood over the old cookstove to warm our hands and bodies. Pretty soon my dad laid down on the floor next to the stove and fell asleep. I was too exhausted to sleep. I just sat there savoring the hot chocolate that my mother had prepared for us and thought about the ordeal we had just been through, thankful that I had, in some small way, been able to save my dad and his precious cattle.



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