That song title, introduced back in 1944, came to mind
as I hunkered down with my wife, Kay, in our cozy duplex for
two days this week.
People have been hearing about the term polar vortex
all week as they share their recollections of blizzards and bitterly
cold winters of the past.
Don Mosher, a hearty 101-year-old, remembers the winter
of 1935-36, when his family farmed near Waterman. Route 23 up
to DeKalb was so deep in snow that the plows couldnt handle
it and called for help from the railroad company. The big snow
removal machine that was used to clear tracks also had wheels
for road use, so they put it into service, clearing one lane
with some turnouts from DeKalb to Waterman.
In 1926 and 1927, my mother, Margaret, was teaching at
the rural Greentown School south of Waterman. She was responsible
for building the fire before her pupils came to school, and she
once told me that a friendly nearby farmer had a bobsled pulled
by horses who gave her a ride to school a few times, then shoveled
out a path to the door. She did not tell me his name, so if anyone
from that area knows their father or grandfather did that, I
would like to know.
My memories of snow days when living on Baseline
Road south of Genoa are not as exciting. But I do remember that
my father, Vernon, and our two neighbors, Hulls and Wiricks,
bought a small tractor with a blade on the front to clear out
the driveways. During the winter of 1950-51, the snow was so
deep and heavy that the township plow could not handle it. They
got help from a bulldozer and driver from a gravel quarry, and
he got the job done. The Sycamore True Republican reported that
drifts as high as 7 and 8 feet flanked the rural roads, blowing
them shut each night.
This bulldozer was pressed into service on rural roads
south of Genoa in 1951 when township snowplows couldnt
handle the volume of snow. This was taken in front of the Schrader
home on Baseline Road. (Schrader provided photo)This robin seen shivering under a bush in front of
the columnists house Thursday morning probably wishes it
had joined the flock flying south for the winter. If you are
old enough to remember the tune, well this red-red robin aint
Then there were the bitter winters of 1967, 1979, 1985 and 1994,
which younger generations will remember as whoppers. However,
with our modern snow removal equipment, well-heated houses and
other modern conveniences, it was not as rough on residents.
The low temperatures this week may be record-breaking,
but the True Republican reported that on Feb. 9, 1933, the temperature
reached a low of minus 26. Then, on Jan. 23, 1936, it was minus
25 degrees. In January 1951, it dropped to minus 22 in this area,
and on Jan. 20, 1985, the record was set at minus 27.
By the way: Somebody ought to shoot the cussed groundhog
before he sees his shadow Saturday.
Regarding last weeks column about the Finnish Steam
Bath: More information surfaced about its origin and other details.
The building was erected by Kim Luomas grandfather,
Frank Luoma, in 1914. He opened the steam bath then. His family
resided upstairs. They sold it to Jack Makela in 1924.
Betsy Price emailed that she understood the boughs (switches)
came from white cedar. A galvanized bucket held the water with
a smaller ladle used to toss it onto the hot rocks.
Tom Courtney emailed to say the super-heated steam from
the hot water tossed by the men would go over to the womens
side and you could hear their screams as it blasted into their
section. Then, he said, sometimes the women would retaliate.
The photo I used with that column came from Dolores Davison-Schroeder.