Winter travel
Carrot River - Tuesday, December 30, 2008 by L Kevin McIntyre

I see you've run the story twice on winter travel precautions.

My story on that, back in 1977 a girl who was in my classroom was part of a service club her or her mother belonged to and was catering a function in town. She drove home afterwards, likely ten miles from town, in a bitter cold night similar to what we are experiencing now. Three miles from home she went off the road. It was late, traffic in rural Saskatchewan wasn't any heavier then than it is now and the snow pushed the fan belt off its pulley. Her options were limited to One: she had to walk.

She made the three miles, in a short coat, mid thigh skirt and nylons. She spent several weeks in the hospital and for a time, double amputation was a very real threat. She did recover, but for the rest of the time I knew her in school, she could not handle the cold as well.

Two years before that a friend of my brother's and his future wife, left our place around mid night. Again, very cold and we offered up rooms and the telephone but they said they'd be fine. About an hour later the doorbell rang, it was them. Just past the curve he stuffed it in the ditch. He was quite insistent he'd hike across the field as it was the shortest distance between two points. She insisted on following the road: she won out. The last half mile she had to carry him and ringing the doorbell was the last strength she had. She was dressed properly, he was wearing skin tight jeans, runners and a light leather jacket, as that was quite fashionable! Dad opened the door, dragged them in and pushed the thermostat to its highest setting.

The mechanical layout of the house, oil fired furnace in the basement directly above the kitchen register. If you were ever cold sit on the floor there and you'd get roasted. My brother stripped him down and planted him on the floor and mom wrapped a comforter around him and held its edges against the wall. He was so cold it was a half hour before he could even shiver. By the time they warmed up we had called their parents and told them they were staying the night and it was near morning before they fully thawed out. Later that day, we took the tractor to pull out the car. He thought he'd just push the snow off the hood and drive away. I popped the hood and the only thing you could see under the hood of that 1968 396 Pontiac was the upper ring of the air cleaner. It took two days in the shop with the wood stove going to thaw it out.

When I got old enough to have my own car, I was always good for minimum four stops a night by the cops: a Camaro will draw them in like moths to a flame! Same thing every time, licence, registration and open the trunk. The fact, I showed them an expired drivers licence for eight months, on purpose, and they never caught on is another story. Come winter I was ready, the above two stories I had already witnessed. Then as now I hated the cold and I dressed for it. First good snow I was out on the town and Big Bobby pulled me over. When it got time to pop the trunk he was pretty much beat. You put a full size grip spare tire, a Jackall jack and 2X12 board to put it on, my snowmobile suit, boots, full face toque / scarf and my snowmobile mitts into the trunk of a 77 Camaro along with a chain and steel scoop shovel - no room for beer! I was a teenager and I had to use it.

Once. On that occasion I'd already driven nearly twenty miles with no belts on the engine, and to get out of the car I had to crank the window down and push a lot of snow back to crawl out. The Christmas Blizzard of 78. I drove from Prince Albert to Zenon Park, Arborfield then the long way around to our farm with the car dragging every foot of the way. A mile from home, driving 45 MPH with no power steering, trying to keep the engine from heating, I just folded my arms across my chest and found out how effective a shoulder belt really was. I lost her :)

When I see today, kids in skin tight jeans, waist coats and sneakers, that aren't even laced up, it does make me shake my head. We know a young guy sixteen who walks to burn off energy. He'll stop in here, step out of his shoes and stay a bit just to get warmed up. He does have a decent coat but his circle of friends have yet to get Real World Experience. With luck they never will.

Kevin McIntyre

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