One of Nebraska's worst blizzards
The "Blizzard of 1949" refers to a storm that occurred in the first week of January, 1949. However, the entire month of January was stormy.
The average snowfall for January in the counties of western Nebraska was 70 inches, and high winds created snowdrifts of amazing breadth and depth . Many Nebraskans have in their family photos some snapshots made in 1949 of snowdrifts of epic proportions.
Two stories come to mind that my mother told of that winter. My parents had been married only a few years, and they were living on a ranch about ten miles south of Johnstown, in western Brown County, Nebraska. My brother was about 2-1/2 years old.
When the blizzards struck that winter and the snow got deeper and deeper, my parents struggled each day to feed the cattle. At times, my brother had to stay by himself in the house. My mother laid him down for his nap and then she helped my dad and hoped that she'd be back before Dwight awoke.
On one of those bad days, my mom came back to the house and to her horror, my brother was not in his crib. He had awakened and decided to climb out by himself.
The first thought that came to my mother's mind was that he might have somehow opened the door and gone outside looking for them. She searched the house, calling his name, and couldn't find him. She looked outside the door for little footprints in the snow, but could see no sign. She came back inside, nearly frantic with worry -- and then she found him asleep behind the gas heater, safe and toasty warm.
The other story that my mother often told was about walking a couple of miles back to the house in one of the blizzards. I don't remember exactly why she was walking, but almost certainly, it involved a tractor or vehicle being stuck in the snow. The snow was blowing so hard that she couldn't see very far, and she was afraid she might get lost and walk in circles, so she followed the barbed wire fence all the way home.
Along the way, she found a pheasant that had been blown into the fence by the terrible wind and had frozen to death there. She removed him and took him home, and that night, they had a nice supper of pheasant.
They were tough people, my mom and dad, children of the Great Depression.
Related post: Ready for Winter? in which I recorded a few more of my parents' memories of the winter of 1948-49.