Posts Tagged With: Christmas

Warm Memories

The church and school Christmas programs were over and we had settled in for the holiday.  Eight to ten inches of snow fell a couple days before Christmas.  Windblown drifts crusted by a freezing rain shut everything down.  We were able to feed the livestock and do the chores slipping and sliding around with the old tractor.  In the early 1950’s, four-wheel drive pickups and ATVs were not in existence.

In the late afternoon on Christmas Eve, Mom discovered we were out of coffee.  That was not good.  Coffee was a staple item around our house.  We lived about a mile and a half from a little country store called Portia.  It was always open for business and there was coffee there.  It was too dangerous for us to use the saddle horses.  Dangerous for them and us.  We finished the chores and Dad and I decided to walk to Portia.

The ice-crusted snow held me up, but sometimes Dad broke through and went deeper than his four-buckle overshoes.  We hiked along and soon we were there.  Like most country stores of times gone by, Portia had a fair-sized pot-bellied stove in the middle of the store.  When we opened the door, there sat several of our neighbors with chairs pulled up around the stove.  They too, had made a last minute Christmas Eve walk to shop at Portia store.

After visiting awhile, Dad purchased a pound of coffee and we hiked back home.  I have always remembered how the house looked in the dusk as we made our way back up the driveway.  Mom had just stoked the fires and the smell of oak wood smoke told us that warmth was there.  The sight of the light shining through the frosted kitchen window panes is vivid in my mind.  For my two younger sisters and me, homemade cookies and candy awaited.  And coffee with breakfast on Christmas morning was assured…

May your day be filled with warm mugs, warm kitchens, and warm hearts.  Merry Christmas from our house to yours.

Categories: Missouri, times gone by | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Christmas Snowstorm

It was probably the winter of 1948 or 49. My family had moved from the plains of Kansas to a farm near the Platte River in Buffalo County, Nebraska. We were up in the hills north of the Platte between Elm Creek and Kearney. The Platte River part of the Oregon Trail ran between us and the river. I was absorbing and cataloging frontier history even then. My next youngest sister and I went to school at Midway school house. It was a nice country school with two classrooms and a basement. It still exists at the intersection of Midway and Odessa roads. However it is now a nice farm house with a modern farmstead around it. I cannot remember a Christmas program at that school. I am sure we had them, every school did. At that young age we seem to need something special to tweak our memory.

And I do have a memory to share. My family had been invited to a Christmas program at a neighboring school several miles east of our community. It was a different world back then. Rural areas had no electricity and no communication except radios powered by six volt car batteries. Weather was reported on as it happened. We went to the school program. We watched skits, listened to students sing Christmas carols and thoroughly enjoyed the evening. Suddenly people realized there was a full blown blizzard in progress outside. You don’t mess with a Nebraska blizzard. You get to a shelter and wait it out.

The Nielsen family lived near the school and they invited several families to stay with them. They were family friends and they were probably the ones that invited us to the Christmas program. My folks’ 1936 Chevy sedan was helpless in a foot of snow and visibility was down to a few feet. The folks gladly accepted their invitation.

The Nielsens owned a farm and ranch operation. They lived in a large frame house surrounded by various livestock buildings. When everybody got inside they started getting out cots and beds. It was a typical farm house, some rooms were heated and others were not. The women and small children would sleep in the heated rooms and the men and boys would sleep in the unheated rooms. Mrs. Nielsen went to her wardrobes and trunks producing sheets, blankets, and quilts. Dad and I drew a tall leather covered settee that folded out into a bed. We had sheets and a blanket, but by that time she was to the bottom of the trunk.

She pulled out a hair-covered lap robe, obviously left over from the horse and buggy days. It was a tanned hide with a quilted ticking liner that smelled slightly of mothballs. Dad and I slept warm as toast under it. We awoke to the sound of female chatter and the smell of pancakes and bacon frying in the pan. It had stopped snowing. . .

I thought it was a buffalo robe and called it that. In later years Dad said he thought it was a horse hide. I have never seen a horse with that much curly hair. Buffalo robe or horse hide robe, it gave an eight-year-old boy a Christmas snow storm memory and warm feeling for good neighbors along the Sundown Trail . . .

Merry Christmas! I hope the weather is just right for you wherever you are.

Categories: Nebraska, times gone by, Winter | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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