By Linda Emley
Many years from now, we’ll still be talking about the Snowstorm of 2013.
A couple feet of snow and we all have cabin fever, but my friends it could be worst. It could be the winter of 1967.
On Wednesday afternoon, Jan. 25, a snowstorm hit Ray County and The Richmond News covered the story Jan. 26: “Snowstorm Hits After Rain, Lighting, Sleet. A severe winter storm hit this area late Wednesday afternoon, changing the warm spring-like weather of Tuesday, which spawned a tornado causing a great deal of damage, to the winter weather expected this time of year. Old-timers report they don’t remember ever having seen the heavy rain, snow, sleet, thunder and lighting, all at the same time we had during the night Tuesday. Rainfall estimated to be 1 to 2 inches, preceded the snow which measured a good 8 inches here. Additional snow, measured up to 4 inches, is forecast for today, with strong northeasterly winds.
“Lonnie Proffitt, judge of the western district, Ray County Court, said this was the hardest snow to travel in he had seen because it is so heavy. Judge Proffitt said Judge George Rader said all of the county road district snow moving equipment is on the roads. The Missouri Highway Department crews worked throughout the night Wednesday, and are still at work today.
“Melvin Herod, highway maintenance foreman, told the News this morning four snow plows and two motor graders were at work and a fifth snow plow was being repaired and was expected to be in service before noon. Strong northeasterly winds, gusting to 20 miles per hour, made snow removal almost impossible in some places as the snow drifted in behind the graders. Electrical power service was interrupted for some time in this area due to icing and possibly lighting damage.”
On Jan. 27, the front page of the Richmond News had a story about the Meadow Lane residents who were snowed in. “As bad as the North Pole. People living in the Meadow Lane subdivision, which lies about half a mile outside the south city limits of Richmond are complaining today that snow removal services could not be worse at the North Pole. The News has received a series of telephone calls from residents of the approximately 30 houses in the subdivision. One caller pointed out that there was a sick child in the neighborhood, a four-day-old baby and that Dr. Frank Crozier, a neighbor who lives just north of the subdivision, had to use a tractor to get to his office.”
A few days later, there was a story in the Richmond News by C.L. “Rusty” Brockman that was his “Adventures in the Snow. Should have Stayed in Bed. I read the article in the News about the residents of the Meadow Lane subdivision. I couldn’t help but feel sorry for them but in a way, they were lucky they couldn’t get out else they might have gone through what I did on my 350-mile nightly mail run from Henrietta to Emporia, Kan.”
There was a three-column story about his trip to Emporia and back. My favorite part was, “Everything was fine until I got on the worst hill and curve between Ottawa and Emporia. There were six semi-tractors and trailers spun out. While I was sitting there talking to myself to decide what I was going to do, here comes another tractor and trailer down the hill sideways and turned over on its side with 18 wheels showing. Another driver and I walked up and climbed up and opened his door. He says,”We are OK, close that door!”
On his way home, he got stuck in Camden.
“I made it OK to Camden and could not get out of town in any direction until some good samaritan came along. While waiting in Camden for help, I ran out of cigs, sandwiches and coffee. I walked uptown and saw one lonesome soul. I asked him when the store opened and he said, ‘Anytime now. I just went and shoveled his door open so he could get out of his house.’
“Finally I got out and got home to my own driveway in Richmond and found either the Special road district or the city of Richmond grader had filled my driveway. When I pulled into it, I stuck my truck and another truck and I spent two hours shoveling them out. Really, I believe these people in that subdivision were better off to be snowed in.”
School snow days were handled a bit different in 1967. Richmond News, Jan. 31, 1967. “What’s going on Here? School on Saturday. For the Richmond school kids, 1967 is going to be a memorable year. In fact, by next Monday it will be memorable because there will have been school on Saturday. Saturday? Yes Saturday, Feb. 4.
“Allen Henningsen, superintendent of schools, announced today that because of the two days already lost, Thursday and Friday because of bad weather, one of those days will be made up Saturday. Mr. Henningsen said that Missouri schools are required to operate a minimum of 180 days a year and if the requirement is not observed, the school risks losing its state aid. The Saturday scholars are still getting a break though because buses will leave from elementary and high schools at 2 p.m. Saturday afternoon, which is about an hour early for the elementary classes and two hours ahead of normal high school bus timetables.
“Mr. Henningsen said today it was possible that school would remain in session here on Good Friday, which is now a holdiay. The superintendent said he would ask the Richmond School Board to make the decision on when the second make-up day will be held. Other alternatives are attending school another Saturday or extending the school year in May.”
I hope all my teacher friends forgive me for this Saturday story. I doubt this would be an option in our modern world.
It sounds like Ray County in 1967 was a lot like Ray County in 2013, but there was one big difference. The day before that earlier snowstorm a tornado hit the Orrick school and killed 15-year-old Danny Blyth and 18-year-old Danny Barber. I’ve heard this story from several friends that were there in 1967. I will share their stories later.
I know everyone is tired of the snow, but hang on because spring is just around the corner.
Have a story or photos from the 1967 storm or the tornado that struck Orrick? You can share them with Linda at firstname.lastname@example.org or see her in person during business hours at Ray County Museum.