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It’s been a winter for stories. Snow. More snow. Then another 12 inches to top what has already fallen. The snow piles grow to the point that we wish for longer handles on the snow shovels—and more liniment for sore backs.

I’m reminded of the snowy days of my youth, when we walked a mile to the country school. One winter day while we were in school, a blizzard blew in, cutting visibility to zero and piling up snow beyond knee deep in little time at all.

By three p.m., the fathers began arriving, walking of course because no one drove much in those days. The dads gathered around the big wood burning stove in back of the school, warming up and sharing snow stories of their youth. They had come to school to accompany their kids home, to make sure they didn’t get lost in the blizzard.

My little brothers and I only had a mile to walk—some of the kids had more than two miles. At four o’clock, when school ended for the day, we set out for home. Pa made sure we were, as was said in those days, “all bundled up” as we headed north.

Pa wearing his six buckle boots walked first, making a trail, making sure we continued heading in the right direction through the driving snow. Brother Darrel followed in his tracks, then brother Donald, and I brought up the rear—to make sure everyone kept going, and nobody got lost.

Winter stories are never forgotten.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Winter in the north demands respect. Sometimes we forget.

Jerry Apps, born and raised on a Wisconsin farm, is Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the author of more than 35 books, many of them on rural history and country life. For further information about Jerry's writing and TV work go to www.jerryapps.com. 

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