Traverse City Record-Eagle

January 30, 2012

Terry Wooten: A time of big snow

Poet baord

---- — The winter of 1957-58 was a doozie. I was in fourth grade.

Snowbanks were higher than school bus windows along sections of the back roads.

I dug a cave fort in a big one west of our house, and used the discarded Christmas tree as the door.

If a snowplow had come along, I probably wouldn't be writing this.

When I wasn't in school, or lounging in my snow cave, I was sword fighting the tops of cedar fence posts almost completely buried in snow. In my imagination the posts were British troops during the Revolutionary War.

Once we were snowbound for three days, but nothing like the stories below.

The third night a giant snowplow woke me up banging and grinding through the drifts west of our house.

It sounded like a prehistoric monster, and the snowdrifts were glowing from its headlights.

Margaret Fales (101) Elk Rapids

We didn't drive in the wintertime.

We used horses and sleighs.

There was too much snow,

a lot more than now.

We visited neighbors in sleighs

to play cards,

and they came to visit in sleighs.


There weren't plows

on side roads.


The years went by.

Guys would go out on the corner

of what is now Cairn Highway

and U.S. 31,

dig in the snowbank

and make a garage.

They put their cars out there.


On Saturdays we walked

out to the car

and drove into town

to get our groceries.


In the spring big, huge snowplows,

you never see any of those anymore"¦they chewed the snow up

and blew it off to the side

to clean the back roads.

Julia Pascoe (April 1, 1920 — December 18, 2010) Elk Rapids

To get to Creswell School

we had to walk south

along U.S. 31

down to the corner.

Well, a snowplow came along.


It was a huge monster

with a big blade on the side.

I was deathly afraid of it.


To stay out of the way

I ran along the edge of the road

where the snow was deep.

My older brothers ran away from me.


I wore long underwear in the wintertime.

You can imagine what that was like.

When I got to school

snow was packed in my long underwear.


In the corner

was a big stove like a furnace.

The teacher made me sit by that stove

all day

to warm me up.

Don Straup (78) Brethren

We had a blizzard the day after Christmas

with snow deep as a table.

It was 1935-36.

I was two and my brother was four.


The snow closed all the roads.

Our family was snowbound

until the last day of March.


Dad was an artist

and wanted to be a pioneer.

We lived in a shack

made out of cedar poles

with old barn boards for sheeting

until I was six years old.


I caught pneumonia two days after Christmas.

It was a severe case

with a real high temperature.


We didn't have electricity.

My parents laid a wool blanket

over my crib.

They brought kettles of boiling water

with camphor

from the wood stove,

and placed them under the blanket

to make a steam tent.


Prayer, aspirin and camphor steam

was all they had

to treat my pneumonia.


I was out of my head with a high fever

for three days

before it broke.

I healed up in a short time,

but that was just the beginning

of our snowbound winter.


On the last day of March

the snow was melting,

and we decided to go to church.

Dad put the antifreeze back in the car,

and we started down the road.


Dad would drive far as he could

into the snow that was left,

back up and shovel,

then go forward again.

We traveled like that a quarter mile.


I was sitting in mother's lap

and have a crystal clear memory

of looking up the road

and seeing a big V plow coming.

It was the first snowplow

in three months.


It almost buried our car.

Dad shoveled and pushed us out,

and we went on to church.

Getting out of that winter

was a big event of my life.

Poet Bard Terry Wooten has been performing and conducting writing workshops in schools for 28 years. He is the creator of Stone Circle. Learn more about him at