An anniversary and a storm to remember
This week I have had ample time to look over the weather and the last year, and realized that the month of February will be three years of Remember When. I have told of my memories over the years, and I also enjoy telling some of the memories my dad gave to me — like this one.
My dad was an equipment operator pretty much all his life. After he returned to Maine from the South Pacific in World War II, he took a job in Portland operating a dragline crane. From there he got into trucking, about which I have already written. Prior to that he went to work for the City of Presque Isle, operating equipment and plowing snow. Back then the city had three old Oshkosh snow plows with double wings and V-plows. Because of the lack of other plows, they had to do the country roads and city streets.
One such storm was bad enough that, in order to break through the heavy snows in the country, they had to use a pusher truck with the plow. This meant that they had to install a beam between the rear of the plow and the front of another truck that would help push the plow through the heaviest of snow. As Dad related this, I could see his face looking back through the window of time to that day. He said they hooked up to the pusher and started out the Parkhurst Siding Road. Up until that point they didn’t have any troubles, and then they turned onto the Ginn Road.
Now, back then, the roads were narrow enough that the plow with both wings down could clear the whole width of the highway. He said they were doing pretty well when the driver of the pusher called on the radio and told him they had broken an axle shaft. They had more of them at the highway garage and needed to go back to get one. To do this, they had to remove a shaft from the plow and then put it in the pusher, which they unhooked, and then go to town for the spare shaft. Before they left the plow, however, Dad lifted both wings so that in the event some hardy soul should come down the road somehow, they wouldn’t hit the wings of the plow.
They got to the garage all right, but didn’t get back to the plow until two days later.
Back then, so I was told, the wings on the big plows were a bit longer than they are now, and with the wings in the up position, the end points stuck up about a foot and a half above the lift frame on the truck. Plus, the Oshkosh is not a small truck. When they did get back to the plow, they found they had left it in a slight dip in the road and it had snowed and blown enough that only about six inches of either wing was visible on the surface of the snow. Dad told me that it took a hand shoveling crew almost all day to shovel it out so they could get back to clearing the road.
When Dad finished telling me about that time, I saw the transformation back to the present on his face.
After that, in the fall of 1958, Dad went to work at Loring Air Force Base on the snow removal crew. From that winter in 1958 until the base closed in 1994, my dad’s last year with the crew, Loring never had to close the airfield due to weather.
When we have a storm now, I sit in the comfort of my living room and watch it storm and Remember When . . .
Guy Woodworth, a Presque Isle native now living in Limestone, is a 1973 graduate of Presque Isle High School and a four-year Navy veteran. He and his wife Theresa have two grown sons and five grandchildren. He may be contacted at email@example.com.