A Freezing Ride Home

Originally published Jan. 17, 1985

By Zola Sample

When that northern blew in Christmas Eve, I couldn’t help but remember another time in the spring of 1919 when I was teaching at North Keystone (Eds Note: was this Appalachia?).

It must have been a day in early March. It started with an early morning ride because I had to ring the 8:30 bell. I was 18 and glad to have the position even if I had to rise early and get home near sundown.

I was riding horseback by way of the Hayden Ranch to avoid crossing the Cimarron River. The distance was seven miles. That morning the atmosphere was warm and regular spring weather. A typical Oklahoma morning. I decided to shed my long johns and wear a more summery frock.

Later I fully realized I had made a terrible mistake.

About 3 or 4 that afternoon a northern began to blow in dropping the temperatures to the freezing degree, just as it did on Dec. 24. I will never forget that trip home.

When I saddled my pony it was blowing a gale from the northeast. I had to pass over the river bridge between North and South Keystone, then turn west along the north side of a rocky cliff that bordered the river toward Mannford.

Several miles were partly wooded and helped some. I was going at a fast pace. The pony seemed to realize the predicament we were facing. When we reached the turn off, which was some two miles from home, we were required to go straight north.

Facing that freezing gale was real torture. It was all either of us could take. How we ever made it I can hardly surmise.

There were no weather predictions in that day. I had never heard of wind chill and it must have been several degrees below freezing by the time I reached our farm gate.

I could not get off the horse to open the gate. However, I managed to slip the top wire and the gate swung open for us. I had no feeling in my riding-skirt legs.

When I got to the yard my father was waiting for me. My face and the rest of my body was fast freezing, or that is how I felt.

Father lifted me somehow from the saddle and I got in the house with some extra help. Mother went to work on my numbed legs and entire carcass.

I did not suffer any bad ailment from the ordeal, but that lesson taught me something about pride.

I learned to never take the Oklahoma weather for granted.

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