© Jerry A.G. Ericsson 8/23/00
The man on the radio reported the air temperature was forty degrees below zero, with a wind blowing at a steady 45 miles per hour giving a wind-chill temperature of one hundred and fifteen degrees below zero. It was snowing so heavily that a person couldn’t see their hand in front of their face.
My CB radio broke squelch then “Lone Ranger this is Tonto, you gotta copy?”
It was my friend Howard; his CB handle was Tonto, after the faithful Indian companion of the television character Lone Ranger. I of course was the Lone Ranger on the CB, a tribute to my many years of law enforcement.
“You got that one Lone Ranger!” I replied, squeezing the mike button on my CB.
“Ya, Ranger, I am stuck out here in the snow, about five miles south of town, any chance you can get out here and pick me up?”
“Stand by Tonto.”
I went to the front door and looked out again, no the snow wasn’t letting up, and I knew it would be much worse out on the road. But this was Howard, the best friend I ever had, and I wouldn’t let him down.
“Tonto, this is the Ranger, be on my way in a short-short, gotta get my old truck Silver cranked up, should be able to make it in four-wheel drive.”
I had my doubts, the blizzard had been blowing steady for over three hours, and I was sure the snow banks would be very deep, and very long.
Quickly I bundled up in my winter garb, first the thermal under-ware, then my insulated work jeans followed by my snowmobile suit, then my old Air-Force Parka, you know the kind with fur around the hood. Then I went out and tried my truck. It turned over very slowly at first, I wasn’t sure the old gal would start in such frigid tempters, but she finally coughed a couple of times, then came to live.
I sat there a couple of minutes and listened while the power steering pump whined against the cold, when it quit whining, I put the transmission in reverse, and again waited a few minutes, while the cold fluid became liquid again and transferred the power to the wheels. Slowly the truck began moving backwards, I had to guess when I was off my driveway and into the street, as everything was totally white and it was impossible to see where anything was. The streetlights were on though, and I could see their glow off in the distance, giving me some idea where I was in relation to the world.
I made my way out from my neighborhood to the main highway. There was no traffic, and I could see why, several times, I had to get out and shovel when my truck became stuck in the snow. Even with four-wheel drive, there were snowdrifts big enough to stop me cold. It took me twenty minutes to make it out to the highway, and when I got there, I called for Howard on my CB, and he answered. He said the engine on his car had stalled, and he was becoming very cold. I told him to tear the stuffing out of the car seat, and shove it into his cloths, to hold his body heat in. He said he would do that.
“Hang in there guy!” I said, as I pointed the nose of Silver down Highway 73 and headed south.
I could see the fence posts on either side of the road ditch, used them to judge where the highway was, I stayed right in the middle so as not to run off into the ditch. This worked for the first two miles, but then I came to a drift that was way to long to make it through. I knew it wouldn’t work, but I guess it was just stupid pride in the power of my old truck that made me try. I backed up as far as I dared then slammed the gas pedal to the floor. The engine roared, and Silver jumped forward at a mighty pace. We made it over half way, when the snow finally won the fight, and I was stuck tight. I tried to back up and give it another run, but I could only rock the truck back and forth a short distance, and I could tell that I would never get it out without a lot of shoveling. Howard was out there and I knew I had to get there quickly before the cold won.
I gathered up my winter survival kit that I kept behind the seat of my truck, it contained food, emergency blankets and candles for warmth, then began walking south on the Highway. It was very tough going, but I was making pretty good time, I fell several times when the snow was deeper then I guessed, but after an hour and a half, I had made my way to Howard’s car. He was there waiting for me, and in suprisingly good shape. He looked like Santa, what with all that foam rubber stuffed in his coat and down his pant legs. I gave him the emergency blankets, and we sat together in his car and ate some of the candy for quick energy.
“Silver is only a mile down the road, think you can make it?”
“Think so.” He replied, so we sat there a couple more minutes, then began our trek for Silver. The weather seemed to have gotten worse, I would judge the winds now to be over fifty miles per hour, and we could barley see anything, but my foot prints were still visible and we followed them until we got to silver.
I started the engine on Silver, and turned up the heat. We just sat there for awhile, both of us to exhausted to speak. Finally Howard said, “Thanks, I knew I could count on you.”
“Any time my friend!” I replied, “Any time.”
Well we waited out the storm, and Silver kept us safe until the State snowplow found us the next morning. It was quite a storm, and I think we will both remember it the rest of our lives.