Kathy Bassett's column, "The View from Maybell," appears in the Saturday Morning Press.
The winters in Browns Park are normally pretty mild.
Well, of course, there were some exceptional years, like 1949 just before Christmas when it began to snow and snowed so deep that the plows formed tunnels that were way higher than the vehicles.
And a county man told me about one where it got so deep he couldn’t get his plow through the snow. But, those years are few and far between, so most of the time Browns Park stays pretty decent.
Well, except for the wind and cold. It isn’t exaggerating to say that it gets so cold the chickens run to town and ask KFC if they can use the deep fat fryer.
When Mother Nature does decide to get a little ornery, she “lets ‘er rip!” Whoooeeeee!
I remember one such winter.
It was a Saturday in the late 1970s. It was opening morning of goose season. The sun suddenly disappeared, and within a couple hours, here came big ol’ flakes.
The snow just got deeper and deeper.
Frank finally decided that maybe he should go fire up the motor grader and get busy out there on the highway. Pretty soon, he came back to the house with some folks that had gotten stuck and were half-frozen.
I quickly fixed up hot coffee, for which they were grateful. While we sat there visiting, Frank brought in another load of people who’d gone off in a ditch. Everyone was so amazed that when they’d left their homes to come “goose-hunting” it had been beautiful weather!
Within a couple of hours, the house was filling up with people who just couldn’t get their vehicles to stay on the highway or just couldn’t go any further, so they pulled into our place.
We didn’t think anything about taking in what others would consider strangers — everyone was visiting and having a great time after getting warmed up. Several of the ladies and I got busy and started cooking up food. We made cakes, pies, cookies, chicken and dumplings, and just whatever came to mind. We fixed and it got eaten.
A semi load of cattle being driven up toward the Utah line didn’t make it and jackknifed in the middle of the highway.
Talk about a fiasco.
Frank managed to get the semi straightened around, and guys on horses tried their best to round up the cattle to reload. What with the cold wind blowing snow every which-a-way, they were pretty miserable.
Well, for one thing, you couldn’t see past the nose on your face. I think their lips were frozen, and they couldn’t laugh when Frank asked them if the cows were going to threaten a milk strike if they didn’t get thermal bras for their udders.
Finally getting done, one cowboy tried to get off his horse and couldn’t even do that. They had to cut his chaps to get him off the horse. Poor guy said he didn’t ever remember being that cold.
The next couple of visitors were the strangest.
They were pulling a camper trailer and low and behold, it slid off in a ditch.
They insisted that Frank pull them out because they were not going to leave their camper there. He got it pulled back up on the road, but then they wanted him to pull it down to our house where it would be safe.
Well, that being accomplished and taking a long time, it was fruitless trying to keep the highway cleared, and with no more tourists, goose hunters, drunks or cowboys to be seen anywhere, Frank came home. We ended up with 21 people there.
The kids entertained them and we piled blankets, sleeping bags, pillows and whatever we could find, and everyone slept on the floor. Everyone’s tummy was full. It was warm and dry and I might add, and very cozy in a small house.
Thank goodness everyone had a pretty good sense of humor.
Oh, yeah, the two drunks insisted on sleeping in their trailer, so that was helpful.
They were so pie-eyed that they were goofy, didn’t want anything to eat and went straight out to bed after Frank got their furnace going for them.
Sometime during the night, the snow stopped.
The next morning, everyone arose and helped with a big pancake breakfast, and Frank went back to work clearing the highway and finding vehicles that the owners drove back to the house.
By mid-afternoon, almost everyone had left, and the house was strangely quiet. The two drunks still were sleeping it off, so they stayed another night but left early the next morning — without their trailer.
They said they’d come back when the snow melted. So their camper sat in our yard for several days.
It’s been awhile. We could be due for another Mother Nature adventure soon.