Kickass, the doorstop dog, chides the keeper for the gaping holes in his memory, one of which allows him to totally eliminate Nov. 11, 1940, when, within a few hours, balmy late-summer conditions turned into a raging winter blizzard with sub-zero temperatures and 50 mph winds, and 145 people froze to death or drowned across the river bottoms and swamps of the upper Midwest.
At nine years old, the keeper should remember at least something about that Saturday, maybe the walk to the country school, and meeting later with the neighbor cousins to retreat to a cardboard fort and do battle with hordes of bank robbers and outlaws. But there is nothing, not even a mother to wave from the porch steps and shout, “You’d better take your jacket, Billy!”
Such are the vagaries of memory. The keeper remembers old November sunshine and the shouts of a concerned mother and, of course, the snows of late autumns. But he cannot stitch them together to produce a personal narrative of that awful November day. But he will remember this one,–this Saturday, November 10, 2018: It is full of sunshine and promise and, miraculously, there is another beautiful and loving woman waving from the porch: “Come in where it is warm, Billy.”