Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The "Great Winter" of 1948-49 Grandmother Perrins ride to Rupert Hospital

Buried: Albion Pleasant View Cemetery
 23 Feb 1949
70 years old.
Before the month of February 2014 is over I must post this story of my Grandmother Edna Clair Phippen Perrins; my mother's mother.  This happened sixty five years ago this month.
My memory 'trigger' of this story is seeing on the news the terrible weather the mid-west eastern states has had this year. 
I was six when the terrible 'Great Winter' of 1948-49. Snow and ice covered the states of Utah, Idaho and Wyoming.   
 I remember that  after the roads were plowed that the snow was piled so high it was like a tunnel with white walls travelling down the country road especially when we went to Sun Valley on a family outing. And, it was beautiful. 

My first cousin Barbara lived just a short distance from Grandfather and Grandmother Perrins in Albion, Idaho and had a very close relationship with Grandmother.  In a recent e-mail Barbara wrote about this day in February 1949. Thank You Barbara for writing this story.
  "Every other day grandma would call or come over to the house for [me] to walk to a neighboring farmer's house and get her some milk.  It was to far for her to walk.  [I would take] a mason canning jar and have the farmer fill it with milk and bring it to her.  There was always a treat cookie, or a big hug waiting for [me]. I loved the hugs the best because she always gave wonderful hugs and she always smelled like sugar and spices.  She was always cooking or baking something.   This particular day, grandma walked to our house,  I don't know how long she had been standing on the porch before I noticed her.  She didn't knock.  I opened the door and she just stood there with her arms stretched out to me holding the mason jar and she was just smiling at me.  I asked her if she wanted me to go get some milk and she didn't say anything.  She just stood there smiling.  I took her by the hand and led her to the living room and sat her in the rocking chair.  She still said nothing.  I was really worried and scared.  I ran across the street where my mom and dad owned "Bob's Drive Inn"  an eating establishments for the college kids and the community.  Mom told me to go back home and stay with grandma and she would see if she could find grandpa.  After a while grandpa came and tired to arouse her but, was unable to.  He said "mother," (that is what he called her) has had a stroke.  I really didn't know what that was, but it sounded serious.  Grandpa told me to stay with her and he would see if he could get some help to move her.  By this time we couldn't move her and she couldn't move anything.  It was so sad and I just didn't know what was happening.  I was only in the third grade at the time.   Later Grandpa came back and three men and a pickup truck.  They picked her and the rocking chair up and carried here out side.  They lifted her and the rocking chair in the back of the pick up bundled her up and took her home.   With much difficulty,  Grandpa got her undressed and in bed.  We didn't have a doctor that lived in Albion just a nurse.  The doctor would come once a week to see patients or if there was an emergency but Albion was snowed in and he couldn't come across the mountain.  The doctor told Grandpa she needed to be in the hospital."

What happened next I remember because my mother had told me many times.  Like Barbara said in her story Albion was snowed in; the roads covered with snow and ice.  So what happened was the  men from the college and able bodied residents armed with picks and shovels came to the rescue. Grandmother needed  to be taken to the hospital located in Rupert twenty four miles away.

I'm going to interrupt this story to write about what happened a few weeks ago.  
One Saturday afternoon I was at the Family History Center visiting with Ken and Adelheid Patterson.  They are a couple who are part of the staff that work on Saturday afternoon's.    We were talking about the Great Winter of 48'-49.  I was telling them about Grandmother Perrins when Ken said, "I was one of those men, I remember it well."  What a pleasant surprise !  Ken, today is eighty five years old. 
So this is a first hand recount of what happened:
He told me how there was a thick layer of ice on top of the snow that covered the road. With picks and shovels they would break up the ice then a dump truck with a snow plow attached would 'make a run for it'  to clear as much snow and ice as it could then the men would do it again.  They did this for eighteen miles. 
I wish I could say her life was saved and she lived for another ten years.  But, that was not the case.  Grandmother died a short time after arriving at the hospital.

 When I see Ken Patterson I will always see him as a young man doing a wonderful service on a cold winter day on behalf of my grandmother.  

Grandmother left a wonderful legacy which I will blog about in the future.  
Cousin Barbara also writes about Grandmother saying "What a loss and for me being so young, I had a terrible time getting over it. I loved her so much because she was a big part of my life."    And the best compliment to give her is this. 
"I have tried to pattern myself as a grandma after my grandma." Barbara Gray