April 22, 2009 Edition

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Ice storm memories

Dewitt Rowlett
Guest Columnist

I recently read a column about the January ice storm in the Baxter Bulletin. As I read the words, they were mirror images of the winter of 1957 at Possum Trot.

I don't recall the day of the week, but I do remember the overcast sky.

There was a slow drizzling rain falling about mid afternoon, the temperature was somewhere barely above freezing, an ordinary day that was to become extraordinary in just a few hours.

By the time the sun was peeping over the roof of my grandparents' house, just to the west of our home place, the temperature had dropped to below freezing and ice had began to form on the trees and power lines.

We walked out in the yard, the rain still falling slowly, to look at how strange it was for the sun to be showing through the one break in the clouds. The light reflected through the ever-growing ice, and it was absolutely beautiful.

The rain continued through the night and after bedtime we began to hear those terrible crashes. Large tree limbs gave way to the weight of the ice as they fell in an almost musical rhythm.

When morning came we were in awe of the breathtaking winter wonderland; however, there was devastation everywhere. One limb had fallen on our roof and rolled to the ground. Another had fallen on the power lines from the transformer to the front of the house. The power line lying across our driveway was no problem though ~ there was no power on the main line and there was to be no power for the next three weeks.

We had an electric cookstove and refrigerator, an electric water heater, a small radio and a light bulb hanging from the ceiling in each of the three rooms. Those things were the only conveniences we actually lost, they were all the electric appliances we owned.

We heated the house with a wood stove and fortunately for us mom could use that to cook our meals.

We broke ice from the tree branches and heated it on the wood stove for coffee, tea and bathwater.

We didn't own a kerosene lantern. When my dad tried to buy one at the local hardware store in Swifton, to his surprise there were none ~ none that is except a tiny red one. That thing looked like a toy, but in the darkness of the old living room, it sure shined bright.

In the light of "Little Red," we sat each night and Mom played the piano while we sang all those old time gospel songs. Mom and Dad would talk about the old days when they were first married and it was then that I learned much of what I know about my parents' and grandparents' early years.

It seemed like a bad time back then but you know what? Those days and nights are among my most vivid and fond memories.

Dewitt Rowlett of Vilonia is a native of Possum Trot Community, five miles west of Swifton. He writes of his life in rural Arkansas and is gaining quite a fan club of people who are of the nostalgic persuasion. Comments can be sent to him through e-mail at deemar12@alltel.net.

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