By Doris Schroeder
As we begin a new year again, we are often reminded about the climate change we have experienced in the world. I am inclined to think it’s in God’s control. As I look back through the years, however, I do remember some pretty fierce storms that came along when we lived on the farm…one especially that happened in the forties. It will always stand out in my mind as a time when God pulled me through another of life’s difficult storms and this time very literal. I guess you could agree with Ben Franklin when he commented “Some are weather-wise and some are otherwise.” I know the last word described me more than the first.
At any rate, when I woke up that cold January morning sometime in the forties. It was cold, probably as cold as we had it this year, 2016, the week before Christmas.
My bedroom upstairs was so cold there were icicles hanging from the roof outside my little upstairs window. Of course, the heated bricks I had gone to bed with had turned cold long before I climbed out of bed. I grabbed a small sheet blanket and hurried down the winding stairs of the old farmhouse and into the warm kitchen down below.
Mom had the coal stove going briskly and was making pancakes at the kerosene stove. The water kettle was also on as she poured some in a big white cup so my tea could be made. I knew Dad had left for work early to his job at the Sam Schneider Oil Co. in Hutchinson.
I looked outside the oval glassed door to the screen porch and could see the wind and the snow blowing across the farmyard. I hadn’t heard the old wall phone ring so I knew that so far, school hadn’t been called off. I breathed a sigh of relief. I loved attending the country school of Sunrise and didn’t want to miss a day of it.
Soon I was bundled up. I put my four-buckle overshoes on over my cotton stockings. My warm green coat over my school dress. a warm scarf tied around my head and another scarf to tie around my mouth with only my eyes showing. As I picked up my knitted gloves, I noticed a small hole on the middle finger of my left hand but didn’t think anything about it. I carried my books in my right hand and my dinner bucket in the left and started out.
I had to make a decision. Do I walk down the driveway to the road which would be a half mile further to school but if John Goertzen took his boys to school in the farm wagon and horses, they would offer me a ride. On the other hand, it would go faster if I walked across the wheat field. I decided on the latter and was fine as long as I was on the high ground. It was when I approached the lower part of our acreage, through the cane stalks that were still standing that I began to wonder if I would make it or not. By then the cold had set in. My legs could barely move as I bucked against the freezing Kansas wind and snow. Each step hurt but I knew I had to keep going. For a short time, however, I seriously doubted whether I would make it to school alive so I prayed with all the intensity I could muster.
My left hand felt like it was frozen around the handle of my dinner bucket and that left the tip of my middle finger out in the fierce cold of the storm. As the snow whipped into my eyelids, I could feel the finger begin to hurt. I debated whether I should just drop the dinner bucket so I could put my hand in my pocket but that was just not an option in those days.
Finally I made it through the ditch and up on the snow packed road, and up the hill to the school. I stumbled up the steps and tried to open the door. Someone from inside opened it for me and I staggered into the outside hall. I remember wondering why the kids were all in the hall but then things began to get black and someone caught me before I hit the floor.
Soon the older girls were rubbing my hands with snow and then with cold water from the pump. I was so grateful for their help and that I was alive. They seemed like my older sister who died, and it felt good.
The rest of the day we had school by the big pot bellied stove that our teacher of eight grades had to keep going with coal from the shed in back of the school.
After school that day one of the parents offered me a ride home, at least part way. When I got home that day, my middle finger had turned numb and I think we used the one remedy we had for everything…Watkins Liniment. For many years the middle finger of my left hand was a little crooked but I was alive and thankful for that! It was two or three years later I accepted Jesus into my life. I thanked God for helping me through that ultra, blustery blizzard and for the kind kids who helped me on that cold winter Kansas day in the forties. God is good all the time!
Doris welcomes your comments of the early days at firstname.lastname@example.org