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Stories from Beppe: The first Nor’Easter

Around our county, we periodically have these snowstorms which are combined with a bitter wind strong enough to blow a child over. This wind is infamously known as a “Nor’easter”, named for the direction it comes from. Now obviously this is not the story of the first North East wind of all time. Rather, it is the story of the first legendary storm my grandparents, Jack and Audrey Appel, experienced on our farm! As told by the matriarch of our family, our Beppe!

Ice Sliding Long 94-95

This time of year always “encouraged” the grownups to find creative ways to entertain us!

“We had moved to Whatcom County in the year 1967. Once in a while we would hear people mention the northeaster, but we had no clue really what they were talking about. Our first winter was a mild one, but the next winter (of ’68) made a lasting impression.

One week after the Christmas vacation, the wind started to blow and didn’t stop for two weeks. Jack worked long, long days to keep the farm and dairy cows going in such freezing conditions. Our driveway was so full of snow it was impossible for even the snow plow to get through. The milk truck could drive across the neighbor’s field, so we were grateful the milk would not have to be dumped. The hired help couldn’t come because the snow had drifted across the roads, making them impassable. A neighbor from across the road showed up to help out, were we ever grateful to him!

We were ill prepared and everything froze. The generator didn’t work right away, and by the time it did it was too late. The worst of it was the cows couldn’t drink. After the milking Jack would herd them to the creek where a small stream still trickled. A few of the cows, to our great horror, walked up to the iced over pond instead. The ice cracked as the cows skittered around, but  it held.

Our children were cooped up the house, and there were two children living next door with their mother, so of course they had to come over to play! Because it was too cold upstairs, we brought the mattresses down on which they could sleep. The boys built forts with them during the day and had a great time.

A few times the boys and girls (7 total, all under the age of 10) got into each other’s hair, even though I had separated them in different parts of the house. One of the doors had a mirror on it and the kids slammed the door so hard it shattered into a thousand pieces. That’s when I broke down. However, the struggles were soon forgotten when the wind stopped after two weeks of howling in our snowed filled world. After the children went back to school, all the broken water pipes were fixed and our life returned to normal.

In the meantime, Jack had lost ten pounds and now we too could talk about the northeaster from experience.”

-Audrey Appel

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