For Country School Children Perished in the Prairie Blizzard of ’52

For Country School Children Perished in the Prairie Blizzard of ’52

Cruel winds dispersed the swirling white
to cover up the prairie light.
They felt its cruel keening bite
clinging to them, clear and bright
as they, too, disappeared from sight.

By the time the storm had reached its height,
not one survived to tell her plight.
They found them on that snow-banked night—
arms raised aloft with hands held tight—
two sisters lost to nature’s might.

I had heard the story of the two little Judd girls who froze to death attempting to get home from their country school just North of my home town of Murdo, South Dakota, when a blizzard hit, but I had always thought it happened long before I was born.  In checking the facts, however, I discovered it was during the blizzard of ’52, when I was four years old—the same blizzard I’ve described twice on my blog. No electricity, my dad trying to get to his cattle to break the ice on their water tanks, all of use sleeping huddled around the fireplace in the living room, tunneling down main street to get into stores, stepping out of my second-story window onto a snowbank. My parents must have shielded me from the story of the two little girls—one three years older than I was, the other my sister’s  age—until I was older, although my sister Patti, who is four years older than me, has since told me she knew at the time and that she had played with the two little girls at the home of their cousins, who lived in town. Here their story is told briefly, in two five-line stanzas. The prompt from dVerse Poets was to write a five-line poem. So, I cheated a bit.

11 thoughts on “For Country School Children Perished in the Prairie Blizzard of ’52

  1. Patti

    I think you were only four; you turned five the following summer, and that’s probably why you were shielded. I remember it happening because I knew them. The girls’ cousin Joyce was in my class and I had played with them at the school playground. Joyce’s brother and the girls’ father were with the girls and died also. It was a real family tragedy.

    Liked by 2 people

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    1. lifelessons Post author

      The father and his nephew Cecil were found closer to the house. The father was only 1000 feet from the house and Cecil 1500 feet. The girls were found 1/2 mile away in a draw. So sad. They’d come to pick them up in their Jeep and the Jeep got mired up and conked out.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
    1. lifelessons Post author

      When they didn’t come home, their mother put her 4 month old baby on a sled and pushed it to the neighbors a mile away..where she discovered her husband, nephew and two daughters had perished in the storm. Heartbreaking. My sister, who was 8, tells me she knew about it at the time as she had played with the little girls who died. I guess I didn’t understand because I was only 4. I do clearly remember the days we were snowbound because of the storm.

      Liked by 1 person

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