Snow, cold and basketball from winter’s pastWORTHINGTON — This winter of 2008-09 continues to have the makings of the “old-fashioned” kind, like 1969 or 1975 — or worse yet, like 1936. While I was not yet around in 1936, I have sure heard a lot about that winter, which was full of snow, blizzards and cold — extreme cold that lasted most of the opening months of ‘36. Then, later, the summer of 1936 became one of the hottest on record.
WORTHINGTON — This winter of 2008-09 continues to have the makings of the “old-fashioned” kind, like 1969 or 1975 — or worse yet, like 1936.
While I was not yet around in 1936, I have sure heard a lot about that winter, which was full of snow, blizzards and cold — extreme cold that lasted most of the opening months of ‘36. Then, later, the summer of 1936 became one of the hottest on record.
“It never got above zero the whole month of January,” recalls retired Heron Lake area farmer Bob Ferguson, Sr. “It was so cold the entire month.”
My Dad, who passed away in December of 2000, was a teenager like Bob back in the ‘30s, and he often talked about the cold of the winter of ‘36 and about the heat of the 1936 summer.
I was a senior at Windom High School in 1969, and we had a January that was full of snow and blowing snow. I think that we only had six or seven full days of school that whole month. After such a mild winter in ‘67-68 and not much snow in December of 1968, what came in January of ‘69 was a shocker — a return to an “old-fashioned” winter, like 1936.
Three years later, in January of 1972, I was a junior at Dakota State College in Madison, S.D. I remember morning after morning, waking up to the local radio station’s temperature report, which also gave the all-time highs and lows for today’s date. Day after day, the all-time low for the current date was set in 1936. So, then I knew that Dad had been right — 1936 was a cold winter for sure.
While January of 1969 was full of frequent snow and blowing snow, much like March of 1965 or February of 1962 had been, the temperatures were not as long-lasting brutally cold as January of 1936 had been.
Earlier, I mentioned 1975. It was exactly 34 years ago today that the area was “shoveling” out from the “Storm of the Century.” I was the sports editor of the Cottonwood County Citizen in Windom and was teaching physical education a couple hours a day at Winfair and Highland Elementary Schools in Windom.
The blizzard came in about 10 a.m., Friday, Jan. 10, and the winds and blowing snow did not subside until the middle of the afternoon on Sunday.
It took two days to get the roads open. I think most schools started two hours late on Wednesday — after getting out early the previous Friday.
Yes, that was some blizzard — the drifts were piled high the rest of the winter, from that huge three-day storm.
Oh, by the way, the Vikings lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers, 16-6, in Super Bowl IX — their third of four such losses in a seven-year span. The electricity, which had been “out” at our farmhouse all of Friday night and all day and night on Saturday, came back on Sunday in time for us to watch the game.
Fran Tarkenton was the Vikings quarterback, Chuck Foreman was the featured running back and, of course, the “Purple People Eaters” — Jim Marshall, Alan Page, Gary Larsen and Carl Eller — were the front four of Minnesota’s famed defense.
In 1975, I wrote a sports column for The Citizen and covered the Windom Eagles, who won their fifth District 7 boys’ basketball championship in eight years under the coaching expertise of Jack Kelly. Windom’s Ken Warner was 6-foot-8 and was a senior that season.
The next year, the Eagles were a dominant team with the likes of Dan Carpenter, Bruce Defries, Jim Anderson, Mike Yonker, Scott Holmen and Tim Wiens. Windom won the Southwest Conference, repeated as District 7 champs, impressively won Region 2 and finished third at the state tournament.
In a couple of years, I aim to write a “Blast” about that ‘76 team — but coming up first is a project that did not get done from last winter.
Thirty-six years ago, this week, Windom’s 1973 team became the top-ranked Class A (two-class system) in Minnesota. I was a senior at DSC and was “bragging” to my South Dakota buddies about how good that Eagle team was.
Coming soon, a look back at the 1973 Windom Eagles.
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