Thursday, July 16, 2015

"The Freeze Of "73"


108 degrees in Phoenix today. Got me to wishing for a cool spell. Which got me to thinking about the The Great Freeze of '73 up in North Dakota. A freak cold front moved in on the 20th of July and drove the temperature down to -150 degrees. It was too cold to snow but the freeze snapped both the electric and telephone lines and cut us off from both communications and light. Then the gas lines froze and we were without heat in the house. 

By morning the temperature inside the house was zero, so, to warm up, we opened up the refrigerator which was registering a balmy 35 degrees. That helped some but not much. Then, when I looked out the kitchen window I spotted a few folks moving around outside so I thought I'd go out and see what was going on with this freak July freeze and if anyone knew when the power would be back on. So I dressed in my arctic wear, pulled on a pair of Mukluk boots and walked down the drive way. Then the weirdest thing occurred; when we tried to speak our words froze in the air between us. A couple of my fellow officers gestured toward the main drag which led to base headquarters, trying to indicate that we most likely needed at our duty stations. I nodded and headed back up my driveway to the tell my wife I was going on duty, only to slide back down the driveway ice and back to the gutter. Fortunately I was able to grab a frozen letter hovering in the air when I had tried to talk to my neighbors. I think I used a "B" to grab onto and swung my way into the open garage door. By the time I got back into the house the interior temperature had dropped to -30, and when I tried to tell my wife I was going to try and slide down Vandenberg Avenue to my work station, the words again froze in the air. So I got out a can of alphabet soup and pulled out a "w", an "o", an "r" and a "k" to show my wife I was going to try to get to work.                                                  

Happily just then we began to hear a buzzing outside and I stepped into the garage to see what it was all about. What I saw was a wonder to see; millions of mosquitos and locusts had descended over the base, began flapping their gossamer wings, and everything began to thaw out immediately. As the thaw advanced all the words, frozen and hovering overhead from our previous attempts to talk, began crashing to the ground and one could hear our frantic cries from a half hour previous begin rumbling through the air in a ghostly manner. 
Within minutes of the locusts and mosquitos descending the ice was gone and we were all saved.
To this day, just above the main gate of Grand Forks Air Force Base, North Dakota stands a huge arch, with the figure of a super sized mosquito and and gigantic locust....a commemoration of the day we were saved by two of nature's wonders.
(I think my body temp just dropped ten degrees remembering it all).


Brian Kalifornia said...

I used to work with this old boy Ollie who was from South Dakota. I had never been to SD so I asked Ollie what the climate was like there. Ollie said "We have two seasons in Sd, Winter and August. I about fell out of my chair, thought that was the funniest thing. Have a good day.

A Modest Scribler said...

Brian, thanks for the comment. I guess I'm not as funny as I thought I was. Thought this tall tale would draw mucho comments. :)