Adirondack Daily Enterprise, December 19, 1955
THIS 'N' THAT
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of "Peace. Isa. 9:6.
Back in the Fall of 1916 I had started my second year of work at the Adirondack-Florida School, which was a boys' boarding school. The Fall and Spring terms were, held at Meenahga Lodge near Onchiota, and the Winter term, (January to Easter) at Pine Knot Camp, Cocoanut Grove, Fla. December had come and nearly passed. The boys had gone to their homes for the holidays, and we, the help, stayed on a day or two longer to close up the buildings for the Winter.
Along about 1:30 or 2:00 p.m. of Dec. 22, our last afternoon there, it began to snow, and HOW it DID snow. You never saw larger flakes and you never saw them come down faster. It almost seemed to smother us. The clouds hung so low and the snow was so thick that it was half dark all the afternoon. We were soon wading in snow several inches deep as we went from building to building in our work, and each time we went out there was a noticeable difference in the depth of the snow.
Our housekeeper, Mrs. Mary Norris, had a poodle dog. By mid-afternoon she was telephoning, by way of the house phones, to every one on the place to ask it we had seen Pete. No one had, and it soon became evident that he must have been blinded and bewildered by the snow, and had gotten lost or buried. We all called him every time we went outside, but no Pete. (He was found some three weeks later, alive and seemingly none the worse for his "outing" except he was hungry and cold.)
About 5 or 5:30 I was called to the phone at the Lodge. By that time the snow was more than knee deep, it was black dark, and the snow was still coming down as hard as ever. The call proved to be from Albert Tyler, my late husband. We had been "going steady" for two or three months, and he had been planning to spend that evening with me. Somewhat earlier than usual, on account of the storm and the darkness, he had hitched his horse to the cutter and had started out for the six or seven mile trip. Before he had gone two miles the snow was so deep it was piling up in front of the dashboard. The horse was finding it hard traveling, and there was no lessening of me storm, so Albert decided that much as his desires led him one way, common sense and necessity must lead him the other, so he turned around and went back home. Then he called up, hoping to catch me when I'd be near the phone, and how contrite he was when he found I had to wade all that deep snow to answer the phone. (And we wore neither ski suits nor slacks then.)
They told us that twenty-seven inches of snow fell during that storm. It stopped snowing during the evening, and turned colder and the wind came up. All night the wind raged and blew that snow. By morning the cold was intense and the wind still howled. But we were all supposed to leave the school that morning to go to our homes for Christmas, and it didn't seem to occur to anyone that it might be better to stay.
Three of the girls were from near Huntingdon, Que., and they were supposed to leave on the 6:30 a.m. New York Central train for Canada. The school team was hitched to the heavy farm sleigh. The girls' trunks and bags were put on, and were used as seats by the girls who were well wrapped up. They were off long before daylight, so that, in spite of the hard traveling, they would be in time for their train. It was a long two miles that morning from the school to the little open-face N. Y. Central "station". There was no road to be seen. In the best places when the wind had not hit the snow, the horses waded almost belly deep, and some drifts were several feet deep. In spite of their early start they arrived too late for their train—had the train been, on time. But trains were "bogged down" too that morning. The driver unloaded the trunks and left the girls there in the cold, to await, and flag, their own train as he had to go right back to get a bunch of us who were to go to Plattsburgh on the Delaware and Hudson that passed through Onchiota sometime around 10 a.m.
The wind was still blowing and filled the tracks about as fast as they were made. On the second trip out we had the same team and Mrs. Ransom, (the owner's) mare, Betsy, was hitched to the "pung" and some of the baggage and Mrs. Ransom and one of the girls went in that rig to help to lighten the other load. Besides Mrs. Ransom who was on her way to New York City, there were Miss Agnes Thompson, then of Plattsburgh, the former Miss Anna and Miss Helen McMahon, then of Wadhams, my sister Vera Moss and myself, of Lewis. The drivers were Frank Hathaway and Charles Palmer. To make it a bit easier for the horses they let first one rig lead and then the other. When we got to the old mill ward at Onchiota the road was drifted so badly that they zig-zagged around among the lumber plies, wherever they could find a bit less snow.
When we crossed the N.Y. Central track we saw that that train had not yet gone through, so we knew that those girls, the Misses Agnes and Etta Leach, and Mae Curran were still waiting. We, too, were late at our station, which was an old freight car with benches along two sides for seats, and no stove. We were chilled to the bone. No one knew when the train would come. After a bit Mrs. Ransom remembered a little book, entitled, "A Christmas Card" that one of the boys had given her for Christmas. She got it out of her bag and started reading it to us, all the time beating her empty hand on a knee to keep it warm. Mr. Hathaway had put the team in the barn and stayed to help load the trunks. After a while he went to a telephone, and came back with the news that the train with a snow plow ahead was on its way, but it would not be through for more than an hour. So we went a few rods away to the home of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Tormey and got warm. She made coffee for us and gave us a lunch and we stayed until nearly time for the train. The train was only the engine and plow, one baggage car and one passenger car, and there was hardly standing room in either.
Vera and I arrived at Essex station hours later, and found our father waiting for us with our horse and cutter. It was so cold, and so late, and the roads so bad that we stayed nearby at the home of our uncle, and got home next day about noon, after a drive of about six miles.
From Meenahga to Lewis it is about fifty-five miles as we travel it today and takes, maybe an hour and a half.