Tricounty News

‘Snowstorm special’

Text from Jan. 16, 1975, Tri-County News. Reprinted from Thursday, Jan. 23, 2003.

That was the snowstorm of 1975! Some say it was the one of the century. Some say it was much worse than the Nov. 11, 1941, one. I cannot remember those good-old days, but I shall long remember this one.

Two days’ warning of the approaching storm made little difference. We kept right on driving, hurrying to keep our plans. It started snowing here in Kimball about 1 p.m. Friday afternoon. School buses left shortly after noon. Thursday had been but a teaser. About 3 p.m., I found myself stuck at the church parking lot. My new Valiant just doesn’t have a weighted rear end. Thanks to a push from a chained pickup, I made it to the highway. It frightened me not to be able to see the highway. With effort, I got the car into the shed and even closed the overhead doors. There’s where my auto has remained … three days of no wheels almost makes me a pioneer.

As I enjoyed my supper with a friend, Kathy (from Kathy’s Café) called asking if two ladies and two children might not spend the snow storm at my house. What an honor to think Kathy felt free to call on me for hospitality. Sure they could. And here they came: poor people planning to get from Crystal to Paynesville, but stranded in Kimball. We chatted and drank and played cribbage. The challenge of the evening was to walk over to the church to see who else might be in need there. I had told Denny Serbus I would open the church to those who were stranded, and was interested to see if anyone was there. I left a huge note on the glass window telling anyone in need to phone me, and I left the door unlocked. When my four guests and I bundled up, we struggled through the wind and snow to find three gentlemen waiting at the door: one a General in the Army, a member of the ROTC whose task in life it is to inform parents of the death of their sons and daughters. He was on one such mission, en route home to St. Cloud when he became stranded here. Another was on his way to Spicer.The third was from rural Richmond. We toured them throughout the building and extended the hospitality of the structure to them. Then we five paraded back to the privacy of the rectory.

Shortly after 11 p.m., Oscar called telling of the plight of a party of four. I understand it took them longer than they expected, and they needed the assistance of the local law enforcement agency to find the church, but they did get there. Several among this group must have been surprised to awaken in the morning within a church building. I am certain their memory failed them. Remember, it was Oscar who begged on their behalf! One of the men confided that finding himself within a church was a very sobering thought.

Even after midnight, as I understand it, a party of three en route from Rochester to Watkins sought refuge at the church. So close and yet so far! It must have been humiliating for one from Watkins to be bogged down in Kimball, eh? I understand they all slept little, talked much, and wondered a lot. They traced down all the sounds of the building which have become second-nature to me now, but were strange to them.

It took until noon on Saturday before those of us from the house joined those at the church. Curiosity in meeting one another brought us together. Also hunger. When finally we did eat, we numbered 17. What a blessing that the meals for the elderly program is within that building. It was a cinch to cook for even this number: just open cans and put into oven.

We spent the afternoon becoming acquainted at the cribbage board, playing volleyball and basketball, listening to records, watching television, wondering about the weather, listening to the wind, calling loved ones when the phone worked. Come to think of it, that’s how the evening went too. Some retired early, frustrated, Others, I understand, burned the midnight oil. Snowmobilers came from the west bearing gifts which cheered the heart and enlivened the party. I was given a ride back to the house here before the 10 p.m. news. I wonder if they didn’t send “Father” home with the youngest of the group to avoid scandal?

Sunday morning brought relief from the wind, and headaches to several. The group helped clean up the building and vowed to meet again at a more favorable time. “Fadder” was appointed the committee of one to organize the summer party when all of us will remember the snowstorm of the century, stranded in Kimball.

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Your story or additional information for these columns is much appreciated, so let us hear from you. The enthusiasm for Kimball history and these “History Matters” columns is most encouraging.

A brand new year; a time of fresh starts and new beginnings. A perfect time to look to the future and prepare for the coming year. We’ve selected something very special for 2014, first events beginning with March 25. More details here in February.

Friends like you enable us to continue to tell and represent the chapters of our area’s history. We hope you’ll renew or join in membership with us for 2014. If you already did, thank you. All fully tax deductible. All-School-Reunion Yearbooks are still available. Let us know if you could use more for gifts or one for yourself. The supply is limited.

Stories and photos for this column or our permanent collection are always appreciated. For any of the above, or general information, please contact the Kimball Area Historical Society at Box 55,
Kimball MN 55353, or call (320) 398-5250, or 5743, and e-mail is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Our facebook is www.kimballhistory.net.

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