Snowbound at One-Room School

Due to a blizzard snowing them in for the night, a teacher and his pupils had a makeshift slumber party.

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The blizzard we experienced on March 11, 1977, reminded my wife of an experience that we had in a storm fifty years ago. I was a country schoolteacher and school bus driver. My bus was a 1918 Model T Ford, quite a car at the time. It had a top that could be put up and side curtains that could be put in place in stormy weather.

On this memorable day in March 1925, I had four children with me. The weather being very threatening, no more of the fifteen pupils that usually attended showed up. As the morning wore on the storm intensified and I decided to dismiss school and head home with my four pupils.

We ate our lunches before starting and I bundled my pupils into the Model T with robes and quilts that I always carried.

The Model T started all right but before we had traveled one-half mile the blizzard had intensified to the extent that the blowing snow whipped up under the hood, wetting the motor and the electrical wires and the motor died. The only thing to do was walk back to the schoolhouse and wait out the storm or the arrival of possible help.

I lined the children up in a row, covered them completely with the quilts from the car, and led them back to the schoolhouse. I carried plenty of coal in from the coal house to last the rest of the day and possibly the night. We moved four long benches into a square around the stove.

We sang songs and played games to pass the time. If I remember right we had three sandwiches left in our five lunch pails, which we made do for supper.

Not long after daylight the next morning, we saw a man ride into the schoolyard on a horse. It was the father of the Teel children. He had started out at daylight to try to find us. He had become lost in the storm trying to find his way to the schoolhouse, just two miles from his home. He was aimlessly drifting in the storm, when he accidentally saw the schoolhouse, which he was about to pass.

This is just one of the harrowing experiences my wife and I went through during my twenty years as a country schoolteacher in Kit Carson County, Colorado.

J. Carl Harrison
Vona, Colorado

(Editor's Note: This story was submitted to Capper's in 1979, and Mr. Harrison graciously agreed to let us use it now.)


Back in 1955 a call went out from the editors of the then Capper’s Weekly asking for readers to send in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first My Folks title – My Folks Came in a Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine other books have since been published in the My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from Capper’s readers, and we are proud to make those stories available to our growing online community.