Phillips County News - One Nation, Under God

By Helen Austin
PCN Correspondent 

Whitewater News & Opinion for December 23, 2020


December 23, 2020

“Get Well” to Richard Dunbar (Whitewater) and all who are sick anywhere. “Happy Retirement” from the hospital to Bonnie McMullen of Whitewater and all who are retired.

“Hello” to Taylor Hellie’s mom who spent the Thanksgiving Holidays with the family. She returned to Arizona recently. Lu Bessel spent Thanksgiving with her sister and family in the Little Rocky Mountains.

This week I didn’t gather much news. Here is a chapter from my book, “Hills Beyond Whitewater Creek Bridge.”

Chapter 44. Horse, Sleigh, and Survival

Believe it or not, there was another Miracle, saving Dad and Harry on the night of the blizzard when Janet almost perished going to the outhouse and I spent the night in the grade school. There was another close escape, perhaps a miracle, in our family as Dad and Harry survived an accident with horse and hayrack, with sleigh runners.

The cattle were bawling, hungry and cold, and as usual Dad and Harry knew they had to be fed! So in spite of the snow and cold temperatures, they braved the storm to haul hay two miles from the ranch to the creek and the starving cattle, via horse team and sleigh! It was a routine job, and they did get an early start. After they fed the cows, they were returning to the ranch. Suddenly, the blizzard worsened, the winds howled and the snow blinded their eyes beneath sheepskin parkas. When icy winds, blowing, whirling and drifting snow reached hurricane proportions, tipped the hayrack and sleigh, freed the horse who went whinnying and terrified to the shelter of the barns, driven by some sixth sense, leaving Dad and Harry lost in the storm in temperatures of 30 to 40 degrees below zero! They cursed the storm, the oncoming darkness, then became practical and realized they had to find shelter.

“Are you hurt?” they asked each other. After finding they were both able to walk, they held on to each other; and Dad, experienced in Montana weather conditions, said, “We will find the fence. It is not far from the road. We will go to the creek place,” shouting to be heard over the din of the storm.

So with mittened fingers, fast numbing, they reached the fence, held on for dear life, and inched their way from the coulee about a mile away, where they saw the safety of the ranch house, an anchor in the distance.

With the help of Providence, they made it and were saved!

The house was bitter cold, of course, being vacant for a time. But they found matches, newspaper, and a few pieces of wood to build a fire in the old wood stove.

“We’ll melt snow for water for coffee,” resourceful Dad said. All they had to do was stick their heads out the door for this. The only rations there were was popcorn, which they popped over the old stove, ending with a few ginger cookies- old but delicious; with hot coffee ending their meager but delicious supper.

They found blankets and lay on the floor in front of the fire until the storm subsided. They were both happy to be alive!

Was it a Miracle?

Back to Whitewater Montana, 2020 – Merry Christmas to all from me,

Helen Austin and family


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