The first photo was taken about 1943 and I'm standing next to a family heirloom that I would dearly love to find. I was told that my great-grandfather, M. F. Michels, a skilled carpenter and painter of detailed and exquisite embellishments on the passenger cars for the Milwaukee Railroad at their shops in Dubuque, handcrafted this sled, perhaps for my father, his grandson. It was a deep maroon and the scene in front is of a deer and other animals in the forest. After I left home to start nursing school and as my parents moved into their second home, my father donated many beautiful family pieces from his childhood, including this sled, to St. Vincent de Paul. I never dreamed I had to ask to keep it.
This photo was taken the winter of 1944 in our backyard in Dubuque, Iowa. It looks like I struggled to make it this far, falling a few times. Not long after, I'm sure I sat inside next to the heat register from our coal furnace, trying to get warm, a favorite place for my sisters and me to dress during the cold winter mornings.
By February, 1947, when the following photo was taken, my sister, Carolyn, had arrived. Here, she and I stand guard over a fort my father made by piling the snow until the walls were higher than my shoulders. My winter memories are of deep, deep snow. Now I know why...I was a lot shorter back then.
The last photo was taken during January, 1949. My second sister, Liz, was to arrive two months later. The snow looks too cold to pack into perfect snowballs, a common problem during our cold, cold winters. But we could eat it.