I remember the winter of 1947. I was five years old, and my daddy had just returned from World War II and from confinement in a tuberculosis unit for veterans. I hadn’t really seen much of him since I was born. We lived on West Long Street in Stephenville, Texas, and my friend Helen’s family lived two doors down.
That winter it snowed. In fact it snowed so much you couldn’t see the grass, and the streets were deep with snow and ice.
As we were Texas families, we, of course, did not have sleds. In fact, I don’t think I even knew what a sled was at that point in my life (remember we had no television back then, either).
So Daddy and Mr. McCleskey got wooden boxes, probably ones they used to harvest vegetables from the garden. They fixed runners on the bottom of the boxes and tied ropes to the side of the boxes at the corners, so that when they pulled the ropes taut they would form a triangle with the boxes.
They set Helen and me in the boxes. We were covered head to toe with heavy coats, mittens, woolen hats and scarves, and they pulled us all around West Long Street in those boxes.
Now, while Mr. McCleskey had grown up right in Erath County, Daddy was from the Texas Panhandle - Wheeler, in fact, and he had had to work on the ranch in snow and sleet and so forth. Therefore, he had a little bit better idea of what to do in the snow, I suppose.
I do remember that Daddy always told me to keep my mouth shut and never breathe in cold air except through my nose. I don’t know whether he got that notion from growing up in the Panhandle or from walking across Europe in winter, but, either way, I was admonished if I breathed through my mouth in the cold!
I know there have been other snowy winters in my life, but I do believe we will all remember this winter in particular as being, if not the coldest, one of the strangest winters in our lifetimes.
In Texas we come to know that if we don’t like the weather, we can wait a day and it will change, but this winter has seriously proven that to be true. I just hope that with all this cold winter weather we may have cooler summer weather in a few months. Either way, I do like cold better than the 114˚F weather of the summer!
Now for a quick recipe. You like baked chicken? Here’s a no fuss, no muss way of doing it, and it is delicious.
Get a whole bird, rinse and pat it dry, being sure to removed the innards! Make balls of three large bits of aluminum foil and place in a triangle pattern in the crock pot. Rub the chicken with whatever run you like - garlic salt and paprika, onion salt, chicken seasoning or whatever - and place the chicken breast side up in the crockpot. Cover and cook for about seven hours on low. Check with a meat thermometer to be sure it is 170˚F. And serve. It is truly yummy and moist.
Until next time - stay warm!