After our little snowfall last week, some of us began talking about some of the storms of the past and how they affected our lives. Of course, we didn't have much pavement in the county; thus, we did most of our traveling on very muddy roads as the snow melted. A lot of people would get up very early in order to make the necessary trips on frozen roads so they wouldn't have to spend most of their time slipping, sliding, and getting stuck in the red clay.
By the mid 1940s, several of the main roads in the county had been topped with caliche and were much easier to drive on in the event we could get to those roads. Such roads could still be rather slick, but the caliche kept us out of the red clay most of the time. Most bus route roads were bladed but had no caliche. They were not easy to drive on unless they were frozen because we would make a lot of crooked tracks as we tried to stay between the fence lines.
When I rode the bus during that time, we had little trouble making the morning route once the snow had melted because the roads were still frozen at that hour. Sometimes, we had a few problems in the afternoon because thawing had occurred, and we couldn't keep from getting stuck on occasion. When the bus was our car, we kids could jump out to push the car out of the deeper mud onto some of the grassland. When we had a regular bus, we often had to wait for help to arrive to pull us out of the mud. Of course, when the roads were really bad, no busses ran, and no school was held in the county schools.
Because communication was rather limited then, we could not call to let others know whether or not we were going to have a bus to ride or even whether or not we would have school. Few of us on the plains had phones after the little community phones became extinct. For instance, we had to drive to House or Ragland from Ima if we needed to call anyone.
Although KTNM could be heard between sunrise and sunset, the announcer rarely had any news from the county.
Some of the snow storms were so severe that county schools had to remain closed for a few weeks at a time. Sometimes we made up the missed time by going later in May, and other times, we just added a few minutes onto each class so we could put in the number of days required by the state.
We can still be forced to a halt by severe snowstorms, but we are less likely to remain stranded for very many days at a time. The heavy road equipment certainly helps us to have clear roads much sooner than the little road graders of the past. We can also communicate with each other throughout the county most of the time. Although we would rather not have a major blizzard, most of us would surely welcome a nice, heavy snow before winter turns to spring.
Lynn Moncus is a Tucumcari resident and can be contacted through the Quay County Sun by calling 575-461-1952.