Snowstorm isn’t automatic house arrest sentence

By Karl TerryL PNT Managing Editor

The image of being snowbound at home in front of a roaring fire is a romantic one — that is until the pipes freeze or work calls.

I’ve experienced a few storms through which I could imagine that we were snowed-in but the truth was that we were only snowbound until we had to get out and get moving. Some of the folks up in the Clayton area recently really have been snowbound.

A few weeks ago I related a story about one snowstorm in which my wife and I had an episode trying to get home to Tucumcari with a Filipino exchange student. Being stuck with her in the car in the middle of nowhere was among the most memorable snow experiences I’ve had but there were others.

Like the time, as a little guy, when I went with my dad on the truck to Albuquerque with a load of peanuts. On the way back we were stopped on Route 66 near Clines Corner. They were trying to turn people around or get them off the road.

Dad and I talked about it and decided to go on. It was really bad for a while then we ran out of it onto clear pavement. We heard a lot of people spent the night in their vehicles alongside the road at Clines Corner that night. We were glad we hadn’t been one of them.

Then was the time when we lived in Tucumcari in the 1980s when Interstate 40 was closed for days. We had about 22 inches of snow and drifts to four feet in the country. Trucks lined the road through town from one end to the other and filled every parking lot in town. Every gym and church filled up with stranded travelers.

My mother-in-law had been writing her family in Iowa in December weekly about how great the weather had been in New Mexico compared to the icy mess they were having in Des Moines. Finally they were convinced to come out — you guessed it — just in time for the big storm.

Coming from snow country, the relatives knew what had to be done with that white stuff — it had to be shoveled. My wife’s aunt and her 80-something grandfather shoveled the driveways and sidewalks for a radius of three or four houses just to have something to do. Nobody in this part of the country does much shoveling because snow usually melts so fast. That one didn’t melt too quickly and everyone was grateful they had shoveled.

Our first winter in Colorado, my mother-in-law came out over Thanksgiving and we had the worst storm we saw in 13 years in that snowy state. The water froze up at the well and I had to four-wheel drive out to the hardware store for some plumbing parts and a light to drop down by the pump and get the water running again.

My wife always recalls an ice and snow storm when she was little that knocked out electricity. A bunch of relatives had to bunk at her house because they had heat that didn’t need electricity. She remembers her dad and uncle bringing back tubs of take-out spaghetti to feed the masses. She slept on the floor near the heater with cousins that night.
My dad’s family also remembers the big snow of 1957 in the Portales area.

No one was able to move because roads were blocked with snowdrifts. The milk on my grandfather’s dairy started backing up until they were finally out of places to put it. The decision was made to load the milk in cream cans on a peanut trailer behind the tractor and go to town.

They say it took most of the day to get the tractor started it was so cold. They ended up draining the oil from its crankcase and taking it inside the house to get it warm. They were the first dairy in days to get milk to town and somewhere there’s a newspaper clipping to prove it.

The main point in all of these stories is, that for the most part we only stay snowed-in by the fire as long as we have to around here. Necessity and a little snow moving can nearly always get us going again.