Original watercolor by Jim Welu, 1964. Author's collection.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Winter Snow

Were severe winters so commonplace in Iowa that my ancestors didn't choose to photograph them? I found only these in my collection. And, did 1943 to 1949 see record snowfalls in Dubuque? And if not, why did my father take only these?

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.


Apple said...

The pram sleigh is priceless! Many of our childhood winter memories are very similar.

Taylorstales-Genealogy said...

Thank heavens you still have these photographs to remind you of those wonderful days in the past. If only we thought to "ask" our parents and grandparents to bequeath a few of those precious items to us to keep forever.....I can think of a few things I wish I had from my mother and grandmother. Thanks for sharing.

Professor Dru said...

Wow, that's a lot of snow in Iowa. In my part of Virginia (Hampton Roads), we rarely have a lot of snow.

Great photos which also show your childhood growth.