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Bob Lind, Published March 26 2013

Englevale, ND, man recalls blizzards

It sure doesn’t look like spring around the region. So, in keeping with the on-going winter-like weather, here are some recollections of three blizzards as reported by Jim Dick, then and now of Englevale, N.D.

Blizzard 1

It occurred in 1910 and its story was told to Jim by his dad, Lawrence, who was 5 when the storm hit.

Lawrence’s father, Philip, took his family to visit his brother, 2½ miles away, by horse-drawn sleigh.

The weather was mild at first. But then the wind came up, so Philip, his wife and the kids headed home.

It was dark and snowing hard. Visibility was nil.

Suddenly the team stopped and wouldn’t move.

Philip had no idea where they were. He stepped out of the sleigh, stretched out in the snow and felt around for something to give a clue as to where they were.

His hand touched a small tree. It was a sapling he’d planted the previous spring, and it was right next to their house. Only then did he realize the team had brought them safely home.

Blizzard 2

It was the Armistice Day storm of Nov. 11, 1940, which killed 160 people in the Upper Midwest.

An oddity developed during the storm when some ducks stayed on the lakes and the water froze, trapping their feet in the ice.

The next day some hunters stopped by the Dick farm and displayed the ducks they’d caught, still alive but caught because their feet were frozen tight in the ice.

Blizzard 3

This one occurred Saturday, March 15, 1941.

It was routine back then for farm families to go into town Saturday nights, Jim says.

That night, Lawrence and his wife, Mary, loaded their six kids into their 1937 Chevy and drove to Lisbon, N.D., 14 miles away.

But the weather turned bad shortly after they arrived in town. Lawrence, concerned about his cattle and especially his sheep, which were outside a closed barn, headed home.

Visibility dipped sharply. Lawrence had to inch along. He finally came to a farm house close to the road.

He pounded on the door for some time before it was opened; the people there said the wind was howling so loudly they couldn’t hear him knocking.

The Dicks stayed several hours. Then, thinking the storm had let up, Lawrence put tire chains on the car and they started out again.

“Blocked roads made us detour an extra eight miles, but after getting stuck, by pushing and shoveling, we drove into our yard,” just as daybreak occurred, Jim says.

Lawrence found the sheep were piled up against a fence. He and the boys tried to pull them toward the barn, but they wouldn’t go.

“Then Dad climbed across the fence and jumped up and down and let out a terrible yell,” Jim says. “Instantly, acting as one, the flock began to unpile and every sheep headed into the wind and home.

“I don’t remember what Dad yelled, but it must have been something his sheep understood.”

Hopefully no blizzard will hit the Upper Midwest again this spring. If one does, everyone should understand that the smart thing to do is stay where it’s safe until it’s over. And to get the sheep inside.

If you have an item of interest for this column, mail it to Neighbors, The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107; fax it to (701) 241-5487; or email blind@forumcomm.com