Kickass, the doorstop dog, at this time of school openings, lends a hand/paw to the keeper in authenticating the challenging route that he and his sister and brother faced in getting to the one-room country school they attended in northwest Wisconsin back in the days of wood stoves, bulldozer snowplows and sub-zero blizzards howling down out of Canada.
Here’s the true deal: the distance of one and one-half miles can still be measured, the location of the farm and the school–though the building is long gone, is the same as it ever was; and the prevailing west wind on a January day still blows cold enough to rip the skin off a buffalo.
The rolling hills are not as steep as they once were, cut down for maximum auto speed; and the loose gravel and rocks have been changed to blacktop for the same reason.
It was a straight route–no opportunity for cutting across fields–into the west wind in the morning with vivid memories of excruciating sinus headaches and frozen fingers.
By spring, snowplows had created mountainous snowbanks along the route, and this meant snow-melt spring floods that on one occasion required neighbor Herman Schranz to piggyback us across a road-closing torrent in order to get home.
You weren’t listening were you!
The keeper would talk to Canadian-born Phyllis about those long-ago Canadian blizzards if he thought she would listen.
It’s nearly impossible to get an audience for stories about how tough it was to get to school back in the day. That doesn’t mean, of course, that you shouldn’t make the attempt.
“Phyllis, I remember a Canadian storm that………”