As I look across the fields and the hills
That’s covered so deeply with snow,
I remember the many years of the past,
And the winters of long, long ago.
The river with ice was frozen so deep,
The wagons crossed over with ease.
The people worked out in the icy blast,
Until they would very near freeze.
We kids walked to school with no overshoes,
But our shoes were sturdy and strong.
Our Dad kept busy, with work on the farm
He would work in the snow all day long.
We drew out our water from a well in the yard,
The rope often covered with snow,
The water would splash on our stockings and feet
And my! How the cold wind did blow!
We helped with the milking, and fed all the pigs
Then after our chore were all done,
We studied our books by the kerosene lamp,
Yes, getting our lessons were fun.
We didn’t complain if the snow lasted long,
As some folks are doing today.
It’s best to be cheerful, for springtime is near,
‘ And the snow be melted away.
By Eva Samples King
Yes, winters were hard, down on Big Laurel Creek, and Grandpa “Hooge” (Abner Jehu Samples) raised eleven children there. Grandma Laura Alice (Dodd) Samples died when the youngest, Uncle Gene, was nine years old, and Grandpa and the oldest girls took on the monumental task of raising the rest of them.
I inherited Mom’s papers, and also her memories of ”living on Big Laurel” and they are a treasure trove of recollections. Yes, the children started out with sturdy shoes, but before spring came, they were often split down the back and let in a lot of snow. They had to last until they got their spring shoes for Easter, and Grandpa would cobble them together until then.
They had to carry water from the creek and heat it in the fireplace for laundry. They placed the kettle of water right in the fireplace, propping the kettle on a “forestick.” Sometimes this log would burn in two; the kettle would tip, and spill the hot water all over the floor. (This almost makes me ashamed because all I have to do is push a button, and the washer fills up and does our laundry.) After all that, clothes had to be scrubbed on a washboard, using knuckle power. I don’t think they changed their clothing too often, and I don’t blame them. I’m not sure if this was a joke or not, that the boys had their long underwear sewed on them for the winter!
They had a lot of grit, these ancestors of mine, and grew up into sturdy and God-fearing men and women who were the backbone of our country. None of them had more than an eighth grade education, yet they were self-educated and intelligent. I am proud to be one of their descendants.
We had our survival skills tested during the previous stretch of old time winter weather, when the thermometer dipped to four below zero a few mornings. On top of everything else, our gas went off for hours at a time, and it was an “on again, off again” situation. Once it went off at three o’clock in the morning, on one of the coldest nights. Thank the Lord the electric power stayed on. Our electric blanket, microwave oven and slow cooker saved the day. We never got cold or hungry, but we’re sure thankful that the gas seems to be on to stay.
School was canceled for a few days because of the extreme cold, and I’m sure there were plenty of mothers who breathed a sigh of relief when the yellow school bus chugged up the hill this morning. I found a poem written by my sister Susie (yes, she inherited the Samples genes too!) when we had a major snowstorm back in 1985. She wrote, “The poetry is not very good, but it’s from the heart!”
A Susie-Q original
School has been canceled in Jackson County,
The announcer just said.
Cooped up with kids for six more days,
I certainly do dread.
The water’s froze off,
We’re all kinda grubby,
I wish that I
Could soak in my tubby.
The dirty clothes are piled
Up in a mountain,
The kids are screamin’
Runnin’ and poutin’
No one wants
To dump the ashes,
Feed the pony-
Or burn the trashes.
Get in the wood-
Or clean their room,
Do the dishes,
Or use a broom.
All they do
Is eat and sleep.
All I do
Is cook and weep.
To have some tea,
And sit by the fire
And read a good book
Is what I desire.
But such a lovely thing
Is impossible you see,
110 fights a day,
I have to referee.
Am I getting old and grouchy?
Or are the kids just mean?
I’ve broken 50 switches
And used a lot of steam.
If spring is late,
I’m telling you right,
I’ll either be bald,
Or you’ll call me Snow White.
To hear the bus wheels once more stop,
Would be music to my heart,
Please start having school again,
Before I fall apart!
As I reread this heartfelt poem, it made me thankful that my children are grown, and my grandchildren are refereeing their own youngster’s battles. I had my day! I used to dread a rainy Saturday when they were all cooped up in the house, but an extended snowstorm was worse. Here really are compensations in growing older!
The Lord must have had pity on us and sent a lovely, sunny day, reminiscent of spring. The air is mild, and the sun shines out of a cloudless, blue sky. It reminds us that January is one-third gone, and it won’t be too long until Groundhog Day. Spring always seems as if it is right around the corner then.
We will have more winter weather of course, but this spring-like day is just a reminder of what is to come. February is a short month, and then comes March with its windy days and milder weather. Thank goodness, winter doesn’t last all year long!
This is a good time now to experiment with a new recipe, bake up some tasty desserts, or read a good book. Also, don’t neglect to go to church. Hebrews 10-25 tells us, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is, but exhorting one another; and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”
The day truly is approaching