Local man remembers blizzards of the past

This article submitted by Stephanie Everson on 1/28/97.

The blizzards of 1997 have been the subject of many conversations, and a lot of worry. This year's snowfall is more than Minnesotans have seen in recent history; but some Minnesotans remember blizzards that this year's storms can't compare to.

ďIn 1940, it was Armistice Day, it was like summer that day, but before 5 p.m. there was snow covering everything. It snowed over the buildings; snow was higher than the telephone lines.Ē

This was some of what Alf Everson, who lives southwest of Paynesville, remembered about that blizzard. He was a young farmer then, with his wife Naomi and their three boys.

ďThe farmers always got together back then to shovel the roads. There were pheasants all along the ditches, froze. One guy shoveled out his driveway and in the morning it was blown shut.Ē

It was a pretty tough winter that year. One neighbor shoveled his way out of his house and found one of his steers standing upright, frozen solid. Another farmer lost all his hogs. The snow blew over them and they suffocated before he could get them in the barn.

ďThere was so much snow,Ē Alf said. ďWhen I rounded up my steers and got them home, snow covered most of the barn door. I pushed the door in and the steers jumped into the barn from the top of the door.Ē ďPeople froze to death that year,Ē he said. ďThey were away from home when the storm hit, and couldn't find their way back.Ē

With no indoor plumbing, the Eversons pumped their water out of their well, but with all the snow covering it, Naomi said, ďWe were pretty dry that year.Ē They always had enough food, though; they ate what they had grown in their garden. ďWe had hogs and chickens,Ē Naomi said, ďturkeys, geese, and ducks.Ē

ďWe were kids then,Ē Norman, their oldest son, said. ďSnow was just fun for us boys. We built a snow house in the snow bank behind the chicken house, and made a straw fire. It's a wonder we didn't get killed in there, now that I think of it - that was pretty unsafe.

The blizzards of 1965 weren't much better, but people had bigger plows and machines to dig them out. The spring of that year posed another problem for farmers. Once all the snow melted it caused so much flooding, ďit flooded over the roads down by Lake Koronis,Ē Norman recalled.

Crops were bad in those early years. It seemed like if the year's crops didn't drown from spring flooding, they dried up. ďIn '34 the crops dried up- '35 they flooded; we didn't get much crops back then,Ē Alf said.

People had their own ways of predicting the weather then, although their theories weren't as trusty as they are now.

ďA man once told me if the sun goes red in the west, we'll have snow by Monday," Alf said. ďBut I had heard if the sun goes red in the west, the next day will be sunny."

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