When the last snowflakes fall
This column is written in tribute to all of the highway crews who work so hard to try to keep the roads clear during inclement weather.
On Feb. 1, I was reminded of how far Harrison County has come. And how little my abilitites have stretched.
The first significant snowfall of winter, about a half inch, blanketed fields and yards that morning. And our gravel lane. But I had nothing to fear. My trusty husband ‘ the man who can get in real trouble sometimes with such things as sharp skill saw blades and failing alternators ‘ was up early brushing the snow from our van and warming the engine for the nine or so miles to town.
In the olden days, say 20 to 23 years ago, I would have been shaking in my boots at the thought of driving over icy, snowy, narrow, hilly county roads to get to work here. I would have done it, but against my better judgment.
The problem back then was a total lack of money to treat the roads, either with snow plows, cinders, brine of any such stuff. Today, the plows or cinders seem to hit at least the heavily traveled roads right away.
But 20 years ago, the commissioners, who head up the county’s highway department, didn’t have riverboat revenue to rely on. So they would wait until the last snowflake had fallen to send out the grader plows. The reasoning was that as long as it kept snowing, waiting until it had finished meant grader crews would have to plow just once, instead of over and over as the accumulation worsened. The expense could, and did, get out of hand really quickly.
On one of those types of morning, I set out for the trip to O’Bannon Publishing Co. in Corydon. Virgil was working in Louisville, so I was on my own, definitely not in good hands.
As I made the 90-degree curve at New Middletown-Corydon and Fogel roads, I thought, well, that wasn’t so bad. But then the car, a burgandy Chevrolet Impala, took off on its own. The car, with me in it, landed in a ditch, nose down, about where the Tom Bube family lives now. Back then, only a field stretched in front of me. And there were few vehicles going anywhere on that road.
Would you believe that, within minutes, a man in a pickup stopped? He offered to take me to his mother’s to call for help and to keep me out of the cold while waiting for a wrecker to arrive.
I didn’t know this man, but knowing I would surely die anyway if left stranded in the icy cold and snow, which by then was falling in big clumps, I climbed aboard.
This guy (sorry, I can’t remember his name, but he knows who he is) took me straight to his mother’s house, which was just a few miles away. She brought a steaming cup of Folger’s coffee while I dialed Gerdon’s. I was told a wrecker would come to my aid in about 30 minutes.
Sure enough, the wrecker guy arrived right on time, hooked up my car, pulled it out of the ditch and then followed me to town to make sure I didn’t slip off the side of the road again.
‘You can stop by and pay us later,’ he said. ‘Don’t try to stop on your way in.’
By then, the roads were a skating rink. But I made it to work in one piece, sort of weary but otherwise fine. I have been reminded of that morning many times since.
And I think: Only in Harrison County.