The Blizzard of 1984

by June Tweten

What a relief from winter was February 4, 1984! Basking in the mild temperatures of the early afternoon it did not seem possible that weather could change so rapidly, but it did, just as my husband, Malcolm, and our eight-year-old son, Jon, were on the way home from town of Buxton 11 miles away. Like a raging bull, the snowstorm confronted their car and in minutes, their relaxed drive turned into tense hunkering down as they strained to stay on our country roads.

Their progress lessened as visibility grew worse and one-half mile from home, despite Malcom’s skillful driving, they became inextricably STUCK a half-mile from our farm. Because of two-way radios, my daughter Liz and I were able to keep tabs on Malcolm and Jon. Realizing they would be there until the storm let up, they wrapped themselves in a blanket to fend off the cold that crept into the listing car.

Darkness came, the wind howled incessantly, and the temperature dropped steadily. Liz and I decided to try to rescue the chilly prisoners of the storm with a tractor. We dressed warmly, trudged to the machine shed, drove the tractor out and decided it would be too dangerous at that time. We had to get back to the house, 100 feet away but we could not see its lights. Through the roar of the wind I screamed, “The house is this way!”

“No, Mom, it’s this way,” Liz yelled as she pulled me in the right direction.

Back in the house, we had to inform Jon and Malcolm that we had to wait, a fact they surely understood.

Shortly after midnight the storm abated somewhat so Liz and I decided to attempt a rescue again. Loaded down with a thermos of hot chocolate, a nylon rope, scarves, mittens, a snowmobile suit, a blanket and a hand-held radio (my security), with trembling hands, I climbed into the tractor again. Brave Liz ran ahead to guide me to the mailbox where she had to grab on to the mailbox post to keep from blowing away completely. She found her way safely to the house and I concentrated on reaching the car.

After several minutes, I saw the white glow of the leaning car’s headlights. I got out of the tractor, bent to the wind, and reached the car. Malcolm had to kick the solidly frozen door open from the inside. Were we happy to see each other! “I was just ready to leave Jon in the car and start looking for YOU because you didn’t answer the radio,” Malcolm said, with a combination of relief and a little disgust.

The radio! I’d forgotten all about it! Where had I put it in the tractor? No matter, we’d find it!

Malcolm pulled the car out of the ditch, with the tractor in reverse because of not being able to see the sides of the road to turn around, and by 2 a.m. we were all safely back home, very thankful to God for His providence and care during those harrowing eleven hours.

When Jon came in the house, he stopped in the hallway and with a huge sigh, said, “So this is my house!” He then sat down and gobbled up the hotdish Liz had quickly made.

Early the next morning, in the bright post-blizzard sunshine, Malcolm took the tractor and snowblower to clear the yard, and Liz and Jon went out with pitchforks to search the hard drifts for the $800 radio that was not found in the tractor. Failing to locate it they came back into the house. From the bow window they were watching their dad blowing the snow when all of a sudden they saw the snowblower spew out shiny particles of black and silver. Yes, it was the two-way radio that I thought I had with me in the tractor, but had dropped to the ground when I crawled into the tractor to take on the Blizzard of 1984!