Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Trying To Get Back Home

All of this snow got me to thinking. When I was growing up we seldom drove anywhere when the snow was deep.

Only major roads were cleared. If you did need to drive you would find the ruts where someone else had been brave first.

The problem with following the ruts was that as the ruts grew deeper from use the snow surrounding the ruts built up higher. So many people lost mufflers because of the snow catching them and eventually dragging them right off the car.

So most of the time if we wanted to go somewhere we walked. It might have been cold but we were used to it.

Few roads were paved then. And many did not even have gravel on them. That meant that after a heavy or prolonged rain the road was nothing but mud.

One evening my boyfriend (who later became my husband) came over to visit. We were out in the yard with some of my brothers and my sister.

Some of his friends pulled into the drive. One of them had just bought a new (used) car, wasn't it cool?

They asked if we wanted to go for a ride. My boyfriend, sister, and I were ready. I ran in to get permission from my parents. Mom said to be back by curfew.

We were out driving in the country being stupid kids. We decided to go look at the new highway they were building. Actually they had just started to build it. But it was clear where it was. We wanted to be the first to drive on the brand new highway. so we did.

As we sped along the newly graded dirt we felt so daring. Suddenly we slowed and stopped. We hit a big mud pool. We were stuck!

Except for the driver all the boys got out to push us out of the mud while the driver steered and pushed on the gas. They succeeded in getting us stuck worse with mus up well over the axles. We were not going anywhere.

Of course there were no cell phones then. There were also no farm houses anywhere remotely close. Because of the road construction there was no traffic. And it was close to time for us to be home.

It was morning before a farmer came by on his tractor. After shaking his head about stupid kids he used a chain and his tractor to pull us out.

We raced home. My sister and I were the first ones to be dropped off. Then the boys all rushed to their houses to try to explain to their parents where they had been all night.

My sister and I rushed into the house. My mother was washing the breakfast diahes while we told her what had happened. When we finished she just looked at us with what we called her "go-to-hell" look and said, "I certainly hope you had fun."

We slunk off to our room. I am not sure she ever believed that is what happened.

A couple of years before that I had a different boyfriend. His family had invited me to dinner for Christmas Eve. I was thrilled to be included.

Around 8:00 that evening my boyfriend used his father's car to drive me home. It was one of those huge Oldsmobile tanks. It was a good car in the snow which was good because it had been snowing for quite a while.

Sioux City is built on hills. I did not realize until that night how steep the hill was that our house was on.

We went the normal way toward my house sliding and slipping all the way. With the snow and ice on the road we ust could not get up the hill.

We tried another street. Our luck was no better.

We went all the way around the huge cemetery and tried to get up that steep hill. We not only could not get up the hill we were sliding back down.

Those were the only way in. We were in the middle of a blizzard so walking was not a good idea. What were we going to do?

There was a subdivision on one side of the street opposite the cemetery. We decided to try to get up the hill far enough to get into the subdivision. We made it that far. Then we drove more in the direction of my house before trying to get back on the road by the cemetery. The ground in the subdivision had been somewhat leveled during construction of those houses.

We drove carefully and made several trips out to the main road and up just a bit before going back into the subdivision again. By doing this we were able to get to the road by way of the edge of the subdivision. There was still a short way to go before my house but with a running start from the flatter ground we made it to the top of the hill.

The street was more level then and we finally made it to my house. My parents offered to let my boyfriend stay with my brothers but he said he would drive carefully. Besides it was all downhill to the highway that led to his parents' farm. And the rest of the way was flat.

He made it home safely in a lot less time than it took to get me home.

My oldest granddaughter was in college a few years ago. There was a major blizzard so classes were cancelled. The kids in the dorms had nothing to do. Cars were not to be driven so going out for fast food was not an option either. They were stuck in the dorms.

But young people are resourceful. Across the street from the school was a park with a good sized hill for sledding. But none of them had brought a sled to school.

The front page for the next day's local newspaper had a picture of several girls from the college flying down the hill on a mattress. My granddaughter was in front steering the mattress. It is a great picture.

I asked her if they were in trouble and she said only that the school asked them to not use a mattress again. When I asked if it was her mattress she said, "Do I look crazy?" It belonged to a girl who was not at school at the time. I am sure the school replaced it.

So with all the snow on the ground right now I find myself in need of groceries. I have to drive about 25 miles to do that. I am not looking forward to it. The roads are cleared better now but now I worry about falling on ice. I guess you just cannot win.


  1. Steering a mattress? Now THAT must be a challenge. I had no idea that Sioux City was on hills, having been around it, but never to it. Youth is something that, if you’re lucky and not too stupid, you might survive. I went to high school with several kids who didn’t, and I could as easily have been killed as not.

    1. Sioux City is nothing but hills. I will be telling you about that in another post. But my granddaughter was in school in Michigan.

    2. I wanted to tell you that I grew up in south Mississippi, 100 miles from the Gulf of Mexico. Most winters we had no snow, but it weirded me out when we did have two or three inches because I couldn’t see the ground, and that just never has felt right to me. It’s like when I climbed Mt. Saint Helens after the eruption, and there was nothing anywhere but gray rock and dust, and I so longed to get back down into the greenery that I knew I would NEVER volunteer to go to the moon or anyplace else that had no life. Snow strikes me a little that way. Peggy loves it, and often goes skiing in the mountains, but I stay behind in the valley, content to look at it from a distance. If I had grown up where it snows, I don’t know how I would have stood it. I did live in Minneapolis for two winters, and bore it better than expected, but I would never choose to do it again.

  2. Be attentive and well guarded, Emma! (Here they sell a sort of spikes for shoes - if suddenly ice is on the pavement.)

    1. My son has those spikes for hiking. I guess I should get some for myself.

    2. I only bought them this year - and have them only in my handbag when that ice might happen.

  3. I've never been in Sioux City. I do have Cedar Rapids stories to tell. It was such a nice town, I assume all of Iowa is as nice.

    1. Iowa has several different topographies. All are nice. I actually grew up in Nebraska which is flatter but just as varied. There is even a desert-like area there.

  4. I enjoyed your reminiscing. I can imagine your mother's worry, when you didn't come home. It certainly was another time!

    1. My mother was worried. I enjoy reminiscing about these things too. They are things I want my children to know about.

  5. The spikes that Brigetta mentioned would be a good investment when walking, Emma. We bought a pair this year and now I can confidently work in the park on icy trails. Ours are by the Stabile Co. and made in Maine here in the USA. Enjoy the three stories about how not to drive in snow and how to have some fun in it.

    1. I am happy you liked the stories. I know where to get the spikes. I am the one who bought the first pair my son used. It was a Christmas gift. I just never thought to get them for myself for some reason.