Winter Memories

Readers of "What's New, NMU?" were asked to submit their memories of winter travel in the U. P. We received a number of fun letters. See if you have similar recollections.

"When attending NMU -either in 1957 or 1958 - I remember one storm that was extemely bad - I had been in Munising for the weekend and the snow and wind were so bad that we got stuck at a grocery store on the way back - the snow drifts were so bad not even the snow plows could get through.  Had to spend the night at the store and got back to Northern the next day.  I remember another time when the snow was so high we had to use snow shoes to get downtown."
Cindy Shields Sanoba '60
Virginia Beach, VA
csanoba@cox.net

"It seems like we could always count on a storm one way of a trip or another--Thanksgiving, Christmas break, etc.  I always remember how McDonalds in Gaylord looked like NMU South on travel days/nights, and the long string of taillights on the Seney stretch.  I can remember a trip on Super Bowl Sunday (1976?) where it was a terrific storm coming back to Marquette--riding with Mark Clinton--and having a mobile SB party."
Erik Bergh '79
Jackson
eakwbergh@yahoo.com

"On Easter Sunday morning in 1991, my two kids (ages six and ten) and I left Marquette to drive down to my sister's house in SE Ohio.  Yes, the snow was flying, and we'd gotten just about enough to cover up the ice on the highway (is it 41 east of town?  I guess I've been gone too long.)  About midway between Trenary and Traunik (that ought to narrow down whatever road I was on,) we hit the ice just right and veeerrrryy slowly slid into the ditch.  Just try finding someplace open at 9:00 a.m.-ish on Easter Sunday in that part of the world.  Or someone else on the road, for that matter.  We got amazingly lucky -- or God took pity on us -- and a man with a pickup truck came by and pulled us out of the ditch.  I never did find out his name, but I will never forget him, or his wonderful old UP truck.  And just for the record, I have never travelled on a high holy day ever again. 
Theresa (Wilklow) Larson, '88, '90
Katy, Texas
theresa@st-bart.org
"We left Rochester to return to Marquette, Thanksgiving weekend, 1966.  The snow and wind were blowing and building up. Around Gaylord a Volkswagen beetle passed us and slowly went onto two wheels and then its side and spun around in the middle of the road. People piled out of the sun roof.  We picked it up and put it back on its wheels and had a great laugh sending our brief new friends on their way.
Going over the bridge was blinding.  On up the road, we passed a set of lights out in a field.  It was the snow plow which lost its way from the road. Further up we passed a snow drift with a square opening in the middle and a hand waving out of the window of a buried car.  We helped the woman out and as she got into our car she exclaimed 'I haven't had this much fun since I got lost in the Holy Lands and I am 72'.  We dropped her off at the next community jail which was taking in stranded motorists.
We continued on and came upon a line of cars stranded by a jackknifed truck which had been drifted over.  It was just outside of a solitary bar.  We had a quarter of a tank of gas and left the car running through the night.  I am sure the bar owner was thrilled as by morning time there was nothing (and I mean nothing) left to eat or drink.  By morning we got a wild sight of what had been going on with the storm.  A truck with full-sized snow blower on the front pushed its way through the truck's snow drift and made a tunnel for the cars to get through.  We made it into town and got gas.  The storm drastically changed the water front and wiped out a small 'party island'.
Our landlord owned a house on the waterfront and when the storm began to send water around her door she took all of her dog's tranquilizers and slept through the night.  That night continues to be one of my frequent memories every time I read the weather in Marquette.  Some old timers will say that was when winter was winter. Thanks for the opportunity to share."
Robert Cook '67
Browns Summit, NC
rcookjr@triad.rr.com

"It's a little vague, as I had so many trips over the years, but one Thanksgiving weekend,  maybe 1967 or so, (MANY years ago), I was returning from a vacation in Detroit, with several NMU Students.  It started to snow heavily around Grayling on I-75, when we skidded into the southbound lanes. Fortunately, we didn't hit anything, and the driver was able to keep control.  We traveled south to the next exit, and got back on I-75 Northbound, taking note of our skid marks from just earlier.  It was around 9 p.m. Sunday night and we crossed the very slippery Mackinac Bridge and entered the U.P.  Traveling west on U.S. 2 the snow became very heavy. The car skidded off the road to a ditch.  By this time it was snowing very heavily, and we had to spend the night, 5 of us, on the side of the road.  We had the good fortune to top off the gas tanks in St. Ignace. The next morning we could see that if we could get back on the road, we'd be at the head of the line. A snow plow approached from Manistique on the west, and he was able to pull us out with a chain. We followed him towards Manistique and the road was clear to  Escanaba. We were to find that U.S. 41 to Marquette was closed.  By this time, it was 7 p.m. Monday night, and we got the last room in an Escanaba motel.  Real beds, a shower, and lots of other stranded NMU students that were planning a party!   Eventually we were able to go to sleep. Tuesday morning the sun was shinning, the road was open, and we made it back to campus by around noon.  Only 48 hours since we left Detroit!  But we made it, in one piece and it was an adventure.  Maybe others have had longer or more or exciting stories, but that trip I won't forget."
Barry Axelrod '69
Vernon Hills, Ill.
takeoff95@aol.com
"Winter of 82, while driving back from Christmas break, we drove over the Big Mac minutes before they closed it only to find that U.S. 2 was also closed.  We searched for a hotel room but by that time nothing was available.  I do not remember exactly how we found it but I remember that the church floor was hard and cold.  We had to spend that night in St. Ignace until the highway was passable the next morning.  It is not one of my fondest memories but a memory it is.  Say ya to da UP eh!"
Lisa Hepting Ellis ‘84
Fenton, Mich.
lchept@charter.net

"Ah, weather in the UP! I remember driving with a friend from the Sault to Marquette in a raging blizzard. I had to get back to classes and he had to get back to work. We drove across the Seney Stretch at about 25 miles per hour, max, peering into the driving snow for deer and signs we were still on the road. There were cars behind us, but it was so bad, not a single one tried to pass. I was never so glad to see Marquette as I was that evening!"
Kay Lepthien Delanoy '79
Keene, NH
kdelanoy@antiochne.edu

"I remember a storm in the late 70's (I'm thinking April of 1978). Myself, along with Mike Letts, Matt Winkleplec (and one other musician whose name escapes me...a GREAT drummer) had a small band that went to Cheybogan to play at a wedding reception. The weather was beautiful all the way down...sunny, warm...a typical spring day in Northern Michigan, or so we thought. On the way home that evening, it began to rain. By Newberry, it was snowing pretty good. By Seney, it was a near blizzard. When we arrived in Munising, M 28 was closed to Marquette (as was the back road by Chatham and US 41, shut down from Trenary to Harvey). Everything was slammed solid! We were told there were 12 foot drifts across M 28 in various locations between Munising and Harvey. Munising was a literal ghost town for days, save the one party store and a little restaurant just off the highway. To make a long story short, we were stranded for two full days in Munising, hung up in a little motel room spending ALL of our earnings on what little food we could get and, of course, beer. Forty-one miles from home and stranded...hard to forget that one! Did we have a great time?  Of course!"
John Kumjian '85, '01
Lake Ann, Mich.
jckumjian@hotmail.com

"I transferred to NMU for the Winter '94 semester from Ohio State.  My then boyfriend (now husband of nearly 13 years) Patrick Crowley '97 was a student there.  Since I was new, I was to arrive on campus a few days early for 'orientation'.  My car, filled with supplies for the semester, and I, headed out.  After stopping in Saginaw briefly for lunch with Patrick and his family, I forged on.  My trip was rather uneventful other than the typical mid-winter snow issues in Michigan until I neared Munising.  It was then that a full on storm hit with near white-out conditions.  I was at once appreciative of traffic on the horizon giving me an indication of where the road was, yet at the same time petrified that it would all end poorly!  My drive from Munising to Marquette that early January evening took over two hours. 
But yet, the introduction to NMU and Marquette didn't end there!  I arrived and found my way into my dorm (1st floor Payne Hall).  The place was pretty deserted as it was still Christmas break for most students.  The first soul that I encountered was an RA shoveling water around in the hallway trying to prevent it from seeping into the rooms.  I dragged a few things in from my car and then headed out to pick up a few grocery necessities to tide me over.  Given the late hour and extent of the storm, I just couldn't face hauling my mini-fridge in from the car.  As only those familiar with Marquette can attest, I opened up my dorm room window, shoved my milk in the snowdrift that rose half way up, and settled in for the evening.  For those of you that recall, that was the year that school was closed for several days over the next two weeks due to wind chills nearing -65 or more.  It was certainly one move I will never forget!"
Sacha Crowley '97
Okemos, Mich.
sacha@mco-seiu.org

"You asked for snow stories and here's mine.  In 1956, my parents lived in Lansing, and my future husband, Gordon, '59, and 2 female passengers and I, were going downstate for Thanksgiving.  There were reports of a blizzard coming, and U.S. 2 was full of deer hunters trying to get home before it hit.  We left Marquette at noon and got to St. Ignace in good time, but spent 8 hours and waited in a 14 mile lineup for the ferry.  We finally got on the ferry at 10 p.m. and had a little bit of a turbulent ride across the Straits.  We found out later that was the last ferry for the night because of the weather.  It snowed all the way south, and one car ahead of us did a 180 into the ditch.  We finally arrived in Lansing at 8 a.m. the following day.  A normal 8 hour trip took us 20 hours!  Thank goodness, the next Thanksgiving the Mackinac Bridge was open and we never had a wait like that again!  However, one of the young ladies was afraid to go over the bridge, so she would try to fall asleep before we started over. It seems like only yesterday and I'm still only 20 years old!"
Marian Sanregret Newland '58
Brimley, Mich.
mnewland@jamadots.com

"Living in Florida, it's rare that I see snow and ice and feel the chill winds off Lake Superior.  Thank you for the opportunity to reminisce about those experiences.  Hmmmm!  Which story to tell?  As a student, we would often drive to Ironwood from Marquette.  Once, I remember sliding off the road landing in a field.
The one about driving from Green Bay to Ironwood--post graduate--in a blinding blizzard in a TR-4 Spitfire barely missing a deer and picking up a near-frozen hitchhiker in Watersmeet who turned out to be a friend of my brother's?  Even U.S. 2 was snow-packed.
Maybe driving to Ironwood from Madison--post graduate--in blinding snow and not seeing another car for 30 miles from Tomahawk to Minocqua? 
Driving from Negaunee to Ironwood with my mother on black ice? That one!  There's a really steep hill going west.  If we kept going on the road, we would have slid to the bottom, so we sat at the top wondering what to do, knowing my father would be past all logic when we didn’t come home.  No cell phones in those days. We watched as several vehicles inched and bumped their way down the hill coming east.  They seemed to be able to make it, so why not us?  We bumped along the frozen snow bank on the side of the road until tension and reason finally broke through the insanity of being on the road at all in such conditions.  We stopped.  Hung up on the side of the road, we were trapped.  We were not alone.  A U.S. Postal Service truck inched part way down the opposite hill.  Finally, it too came to a stop. Then, on the top of the hill, coming east, a school bus.  We had no idea if it was full of students or not.  Slowly the driver inched his way down the hill, bumping off those frozen snow banks.  Remember, the postal service truck is below the bus.  We thought the bus driver mad.  As he inched closer, we thought he would stop behind the truck.  Then we thought he would hit the truck.  Finally he stopped, people got out and started chipping ice from the road, so the bus could get some traction.  It took a long time, but the bus actually made it around the truck. After some time we saw the truck driver get out of his truck, slip and slide his way down the hill and up to us.  He urged us to leave the car and come to the truck, where there was some heat.  Getting out of the car, we realized there was no way to walk on this black ice.  I don’t remember how we got to his truck, but we were warm when we got there. Eventually, it began to snow.  The snow stuck.  We began to see cars slowly make it down the west-bound lane and up the other side.  We were able to walk, albeit, carefully, down the hill, up the hill, get into the car and very carefully drive down, then up that steep slope, inching the last bit to the top.  We were way past a reasonable time getting home.  I won’t discuss the reception when we got there.  It’s hard to believe that was forty-some years ago."
Geraldine "Gerry" M. Tiziani '65
Miami, Fla.
gtiz5555@aol.com

"I headed home for Thanksgiving break in 1969 with five other student passengers.  Leaving Marquette and traveling East on M-28, I was bound for my home in Harper Woods.  The winds were blowing off of Lake Superior and at every exposed area the snow was so blinding I couldn't see where I was going.  The only way I could see the road was to put my window down and look straight down to get my bearing.  Doing this for even a minute or two would fill the front seat with snow. Arriving at the bridge we found it to be closed so we hung out at the Truck Stop (this was 1969 so no other restaurants existed).  When the bridge finally opened I didn't realize how fast I was driving across.  I got stopped on the other side by the Bridge Patrol for doing 70 MPH!  The only thing that kept me out of jail was the story that my dad was a cop (true story).  They let me go but I continued moving right along.
I had just gone past Grayling on I-75, turning South on M-10 (this was before the opening of the new stretch of I-75 between this point and Saginaw) toward Clare.  It was still snowing pretty hard and at this turn the snow was also blowing out of the trees making it a total white-out.  The next thing I knew there were three cars stopped in front of me, all lined up next to each other.  (The first one stopped in the left lane because they couldn't see, the second one swerved to the right and plowed into the snow bank and the third stopped between the other two).  Well, after jamming on my brakes I hit the one in the middle and drove him into the car on the left and I continued sliding into the one on the right.  It was a perfect strike!  No one was hurt but I totaled my car and everyone had to hang around for hours for police reports.  All of us got rides from deer hunters who were snaking along the debris on their way home to the Detroit area. 
I spent three more years at NMU but slowed down considerably, especially during snow storms.  I still go North yearly during the winter and still don't let the conditions dissuade me. I love it!"
Webb Coates '72
Marysville, Mich.
wcoates@itape.com
"The blizzard of '66 stands out in my mind as one of the most unforgettable trips back to NMU over the Thanksgiving holidays. I remember the temperature being in the 50's when I and my buddy Jim left Traverse City to head back up to Northern after celebrating Thanksgiving at our homes. We picked up our two girl passengers in Alanson who rode down with us the weekend before. One girl was named Tony and I can't remember the other girls names. Anyway, by the time we were approaching the Mackinac Bridge, the temp had fallen quite noticeably and it was sleeting and heavy wet snow combined. The person working the toll booth on the bridge asked us where we were heading and we told him NMU. He just laughed and said 'You will never make it. They already have heavy snowfall and strong winds near Marquette!' We decided to wait just across the bridge for some other students heading our way and 'convoy' together for safety sake. The snow was really coming down now, wet and heavy. We started driving down U.S. 2 and would have to stop every so often to clear the windshield and wipers and knock the packing snow out from the wheel wells. By the time we passed through Engadine, there were lots of cars already parked around the fire hall. Later we would find out it was one of many local sights that people were staying at during the storm. I remember when we finally came over the crest on Highway 41 just south of Skandia. All you could see ahead was a ribbon of red tailights and headlights from vehicles coming our way up ahead. There were State Police and emergency and medical people who had traveled by snowmobile out to this area of the highway and were checking on anyone who needed any assistance. Those who were considered major health risks were taken to local homes or businesses in the area. The rest of us, some 300-400 cars and trucks in a span of several miles, got ready to bed down for a long cold night in our vehicles. The winds increased during the night and the air temp was well below zero, so the wind chill (something that was not familiar to many people back in the good ole days) was estimated at 40-50 below zero. We were warned to keep our car engines running for only a short period of time to warm up. However, we found out the next day that several people died from carbon monoxide fumes, having left their car engines running too long and the blowing snow having covered the muffler on their car. I distinctly remember my mother always packing a "care package" for me everytime I drover back to school. This consisted of all sorts of snack foods, candy, gum, etc. By the time we realized we were hungry during the night, we couldn't open the car doors due to the drifting snow. I was almost tempted to use my pocket knife and redecorate the back seat in order to get to the delectable aroma that was just a few inches beyond our reach, but I decided I might need that seat for further use.
Sometime during the night, I borrowed my buddies Bic lighter and also used most of a pack of matches I had found in my glove compartment and thawed the ice around my driver side window to roll it down a ways. The snow had drifted in so high and tight, I pounded it with my fist, but it was hard as concrete. So much for that endeavor!
Luckily everyone was wearing a watch and keeping track that they were wound and running. Except for turning on the dome light for a few seconds once in a while, there was no light anywhere and night and day were all the same-pitch black!
Late the next morning, we thought we heard a strange, rumbling sound. We weren't sure, having spent all night and most of the next morning in complete darkness. However, the strange sound was definitely there and getting noticeably louder. We couldn't figure out what it was until it was almost upon us. It turned out to be the huge road graders from K.I. Sawyer Air Force Base. The authorities had sent out some one from the road commission with a Platt map that shows where the roadways are exactly located. Later on, we found out that when the guys from the road commission and the road graders came over the crest we had passed a ways back, all they could see were the power lines and poles that line the sides of the highways. The road itself had been completely drifted over so no vehicles could be spotted anywhere. They decided then that the only solution was to send people out with long poles and starting poking holes in the drifts and when they heard metal thudding sounds, they knew it was a car or truck and listened for a repeated sound back. It was a long, slow process that seemed to take forever, but eventually, the graders made their ways down the road, sometimes literally plowing cars and trucks off to the side, again not know exactly where the sides of the vehicles were until making contact. We were lucky, with the grader missing my car by less than a foot. Once we were dug out, we got out and shouted at the top of our lungs. Daylight never looked so good! Mother Nature had been calling for a number of people and by this time, the need for relief far outweighed any issues of modesty or embarrassment, if you know what I mean. It was sometime longer before we started the last part of our journey back to NMU. NMU had been closed due to the storm. When we finally got to Halverson Hall, my dorm, the snow had drifted up to the edge of the third floor windows. Those students who had stayed at school over the holidays had ransacked the cafeteria for lunch trays and were sledding out the third story windows almost out to the end of the parking lots. Also, due to the power outages over much of the campus, some ambitious students decided that the tile floors in the hallways and lobbies were icy enough to skate on! That's right, skating in the dorms! Later on that evening and into next morning, the power started to come back on and we were finally able to call back home and let our family and friends know we had finally made it back safe and sound.
I remember telling this story many a time to a number of my former students, some whom later went to college either at Michigan Tech or Northern Michigan. Funny how they always remembered to take "care packages", including food, blankets, flashlights, etc. and have them close at hand in case of an emergency. I guess one good turn deserves another!"
Tom P. Waclawski '68, '70
Traverse City, Mich.
ka8ylktom@chartermi.net

"I have a great snow story...It was January, 1969, my sophomore year.  All the other NMU kids had completed their Christmas breaks downstate, had returned to NMU to finish the semester (back before semesters ended before Christmas).  I, however, was still in Royal Oak, victim of the man.  All my high school speeding tickets had finally caught up with me.  I had worked for an industrial caterer, a ticket every other day.  I was asked to attend a remedial driver’s training seminar at the Pontiac High School auditorium.  About 95 boys and 5 girls were present for the dumbest lecture ever.  What was worse is that outside was the beginnings of the worse storm in I-75 history! 
As soon as I left at around 9 p.m., I hit the road for NMU.  There was so much ice on I-75, nobody dared go on it.  By Birch Run gas and burger stop, there was only one lane of plowed surface, snow was blowing sideways, windchill around zero. 
I must explain, I was driving a 1965 Triumph Spitfire convertible, not your best snow car (but one of only two actual sports cars in all of Marquette County).  I had snow tires, but was in dress clothes for the seminar... with a good Air Force artic jacket.  By the time I hit Midland area, the snow was falling faster than the plows could keep up.  I was driving in 5-6” of fresh snow, with occasional snow drifts fingering across the highway so as to blot out any definition of shoulders.  Twice I managed to miss my lane and drive off the road and down a bank.  The ol’ Spitfire was lightweight, and with snowtires I managed to creep right back up to the road.   There was no longer any traffic.  As I got to Gaylord, I decided I would pull off for the night, find a motel.  However, the plow had merely plowed the exit ramp down, then back up.  The town of Gaylord was closed.  I spotted a garage where county plows were warming their engines, pulled in to ask.  They were trying to keep 1 lane open on I-75 for emergency vehicles, otherwise, it was closed, as was the town and all the towns north.  I decided to take a chance, got back on the road following a plow.  Within minutes, he’d left me in his “dust”, I was alone at night in a snow storm on I-75... there was a folk song there somewhere.
It was around Wolverine, that I noticed I was in the two-tracks of another vehicle, not a plow, then, whoops... it was off the road and down an embankment.  I stopped in the middle of the road.  I could barely see the taillights of the Cadillac about 30 yds down the steep hill.  I climbed down and found a family of 6 all crammed and scared in this still running vehicle.  I told them I would go for help.  Before I reached the road again, a plow had stopped short of hitting my car.  I told him of the Caddy and he said he’d radio someone, wouldn’t pull them out himself because of “liability”... “damn it man, they could freeze down there!”  and so was born my scepticism of early politically correctness.  I moved on knowing that I would contact the State Police at the very next town.
The next town, Indian River, was closed.  No way to get off the off-ramp and into town, as snow was about 3 feet deep now.  A new problem arose.  My temp gage said I was overheating!   Stopped the car, lifted the one-piece front end/hood, and found my fan belt had slipped off the water pump pulley.  The pulley was made of some strange plastic material and had shattered in the cold.  There was about 2/3rds of its circumference left.  I slipped the belt back on hoping it would hold for a while.  Sure enough, it would continue to last about 4-5 miles before slipping off again.  The trip was now taking a dangerous feel.
I was sure when I reached Mackinaw City, I’d find the warm lights of that restaurant at the exit ramp, ah... warmth, some food, call the state police, sleep.  But no, the city of Mackinaw had lake effect snow drifts all the way up to the top of the first floor of every building!  Not a single light flickered in any building... Everyone was home, warm and cozy... I was facing real problems.  Should I go on across the bridge or take the plowed exit ramps back downstate?  I knew what was south, better go on ahead, see what’s up.
As I crossed the Mackinaw Bridge in this snow storm, my fan belt popped off 2 more times.  The first time was bad, as I climbed out of the car, tried to raise the front end/hood, but the cross wind didn’t allow it to stay up on its “stick”... I had to hold the hood while putting the belt back over the missing pieces of plastic pulley, ugh.  The cross wind was constant at around 50 mph, with biting wet snow blowing with it.  I couldn’t see the ground level bridge lights further than 10 ft ahead.  In the pitch black night I could finally make out the bridge surface ahead, between the support pylons.  It was thrashing back and forth slowly, pitching and yawing as if inviting me to dare proceed.  The second time the belt popped, I was on the grating in the left lane north.  The hood went up and wind from below sent the whole car sideways into the guard rail as if I’d just put up a sail.  I abandoned the try, climbed back in and drove about 3 mph towards what appeared to be the lights of the toll booth ahead. 
I pulled up to the booth.  Inside was a rather startled fellow who jumped at the sight of me!  “Whoa, what are you doing here?  The bridge is closed!”   This would be the only time I didn’t have to pay the toll, ha.  My first question was, “Is there anything open between here and Marquette?”  He assured me the famous truck stop was open, but probably not for long.  He then told me that I-75 had been closed about 8 hrs before throughout the WHOLE state!  The bridge had been closed for 12 hrs. due to the wind.
I was relieved to see a human face.  He was alone in the booth and station...said a State Trooper had stopped by about an hour ago saying the UP was bad too.  I went to the truck stop.  There were 2 waitresses and a cook, and 4 other customers in the place, each with their story of doom.  But each was a local person who had to get up to do some wintery task for the state or St. Ignace.  I was their first “traveller” in 8 hrs.  The young waitress was nice, served me a wonderful hot meal, lots of coffee.  I was falling asleep in the booth when the older lady said, “NO SLEEPING IN THE BOOTHS”... ugh.  Thank god for clean restrooms, as I was forced to lay down for a half hour in the mens room on my jacket... I had my guitar with me, played some.  Then I got a bright idea, as somebody came by to open the gas station... not for business, but to give gas to State Police cars.  My idea was to cut the lid off a tin can from the restaurant, punch a hole in the center, apply it to the face of the broken pulley, hoping it would keep the belt from popping.  Good idea, looked like it would work.  Then the State Police arrived!  Saved!  Well, not really saved.  He lived locally, was about to start his shift and they told him to just sit it out, wait by the radio in case of emergency.  He told me that not 1 but 2 big trucks had jack-knifed on the road ahead of me.  The one was on M-28 near Seney, the other was on US41 just below Marquette.  This basically ended my trip, as neither truck was being removed with any speed.  I asked about a motel in the area. There was only one motel within striking distance of the truck stop, without going down into St. Ignace.  I knocked on the door around 4 am.  The sleepy proprietor said he was closed, had no other guests, wanted to go back to bed.  I told him a shorter version of this story, said I had to hang around until the St. Ignace junkyard opened in the morning so I could find a pulley.  He was gracious, gave me a 4 hr room for free, even shared some hot cocoa with me.  In my restless dreams, I relived the whole of my trip all over again, eyes stinging from the white-out conditions, the bitter snow blowing “up” my coat and sleeves.  I woke with a start.  It was sunny, windless. I was renewed, decided to push on if I could get the pulley fixed.  I went back to truck stop for breakfast.  Finally found the junkyard which was out in the sticks of town, but at least plowed.  The dealer said he had no such pulley, of course.  I suggested that I find one the same diameter, and even if it had a bigger center hole, I could bolt it on solid enough to make it work.  He found me the generator pulley from a 1958 Ford Edsel, ha.  Same diameter, much larger center hole.  With invention, necessity is a mother...  I got it to work!  It worked so well, I forgot it was on there and used it for the next year and a half!  I was back on the road. News was that the 2 jack-knifed trucks were cleared, roads were open.  I took off for 117, then M28’s Seney Stretch, and Munising.  All went well, until I got to Munising.  The sky darkened to black, flurries began, became a white-out by the time I got to Christmas.  Several other cars on the road now at least.  This is before the time that M28 had been re-routed away from the lake... so I knew there would be bad spots ahead.  This 50 miles to Marquette would take 4 hours!  as I followed the taillights of the car in front of me.  I was on his bumper, no more than 3 ft back at any time, just couldn’t see the lights in the white-out.  Behind me were several other cars, all following as close.  We crawled along looking for some landmarks but none were seen, had no idea how far we’d gone at any time.  Brownstone Inn?  missed it.  It might have been open, but we couldn’t see it.  The good part of the wind was that the snow fingers across the road were never deeper than 1-2 ft.  There were no plows out.  The driver ahead of me was a saint!  He was leading us all.  We all stopped in unison several times while he got his bearings, making sure he was still on the road and not the beach, ha.
As we turned the corner at US41 and M28, we barely saw the blinking yellow light, but we knew we were near safety.  Wahlstrom’s Parkway Motel and Restaurant lights showed they were OPEN!   We all pulled in en masse.  It was now that we found we’d been a caravan of 12.  Our leader was my good friend and fraternity brother.  He had left Detroit 24 hrs after I did... whew.  We all thanked him for saving our lives, all offering to buy his coffee and meal! I crawled into the Hunt Hall cafeteria during the dinner meal.  Still in my arctic jacket with woolly hood, I was recognized immediately and a cheer arose from the full crowd!  It was then that I saw someone running the length of the cafeteria, my girlfriend was screaming during her run, knocking me down with the impact that said she missed me.  Apparently, she and my parents both had called the State Police, who had been looking for me for the past 24 hrs.  Whew...  I spoke to God on that trip, gave my trusty Spitfire a fresh quart of oil, slept through classes the next day... ugh.  I’ve been through nor’westers in the UP before while snowshoeing, endured the nor’easters of winter here in Boston, but that storm was my big one... the one that taught me never to accumulate too many points on my license ever again... ha.
Don’t know if you can fit this into a “What’s New...”, but it was cathartic to actually write it down for the first time. Thanks."
Mike Greer '76
Arlington, Maine
magreegflutes@comcast.net
Thanks to everyone for sharing their stories!