By Marvin Baker, a new weekly column in The Kenmare News
Posted 2/18/20 (Tue)
When I see people walking around outside wearing shorts when it’s 5 degrees, or those who don’t have gloves or some kind of head gear at that temperature, they’re taking a huge risk.
I learned to respect the cold a long time ago but have gotten myself into situations since that made me think why I didn’t learn a better lesson when I was 19.
• At 19 years old, I was living at home in Hazelton and I was dating a girl in Wishek, 50 miles to the southeast. Her name was Gloria Schock, and I don’t know what ever happened to her, but if she or any of her friends or relatives are reading this, please tell her Hi from me!
Anyway, Gloria and I had a date planned so I set out to drive to Wishek, pick her up and go bowling.
When I drove through Linton, I noticed the temperature on a marquee on the credit union. It was about 6 p.m., on a Sunday night and the temperature was 38 below zero.
OK, that’s getting down there, but at least there wasn’t any wind. It was just calm and cold.
By the time I got to Wishek, the heater had gone out of my 1972 Mustang, so I stopped at Gloria’s house and told her I had to turn around and go right back.
Those 50 miles back to Hazelton were probably the longest 50 miles I’ve ever driven.
I was prepared for a cold night, but nothing like how it turned out. I had thick gloves, extra socks and plenty of layers to wear in case something like that did happen.
Think about this for a moment. That trip took a little less than an hour, so I was exposed to that temperature about an hour.
When I got home, I couldn’t feel my fingers or toes and my cheeks felt like I was being stabbed with 1,000 needles.
It took a long time to “thaw out” after that trip and since that time, I’ve taken even more precautions just in case this would happen again, because you know, if you’re car is going to break down, it’s going to pick the depth of winter to do it.
• In early 1997, the Walsh County Record published the Cavalier County Republican for us. I went to Grafton one Friday afternoon to pick up the bundles of papers for the Langdon post office.
The weather was lousy. It was approximately 20 below and there was a strong northwesterly wind blowing snow, which reduced visibility to about 100 feet.
While I was there, the weather become progressively worse and instead of heeding the warning of John Morgan and his sister Jackie Thompson, I set out for Langdon, a trip of 65 miles against the wind.
John Morgan wouldn’t let me leave the building until I agreed to take his cell phone in case I stalled.
As luck would have it, as I got up on flat ground west of the Walhalla intersection, a bundle of newspapers got sucked out of the back of my truck, even though I had the box covered with a tarp.
The visibility was terrible, but I could see the bundle a few feet back sitting there on N.D. Highway 5. I walked back to get it, just a few feet, but when I turned around to walk back, that cold took my breath away and it couldn’t have been more than 30 feet back to my vehicle.
When I got the bundle secured and put it in the cab, I had to sit there on the highway for a few minutes just to get my bearing before driving the remaining 20 miles back to Langdon.
Those were the days when my pride was so strong, I was going to deliver that newspaper, the newspaper I was responsible for, even if it killed me, and it probably would have if that bundle of papers was 50 feet or more back instead of 30 feet.
• A third, and perhaps comical situation happened near New Rockford in 1987. Our National Guard unit had to do some winter training and it was extremely cold, so cold in fact, that when we stopped to eat our MRE lunch, everything in the package was frozen solid if it had any moisture in it.
I recall breaking off a piece of hot dog, putting it in my mouth to thaw it out before I could chew it.
These examples are my own and are presented to illustrate what extreme cold can do to the human body.
You may have been in worse situations, you may think I’m a total nut job for being out in those conditions or you can see the caution here.
We all have to respect the cold when it gets down to those extremes and wearing shorts or a thin jacket isn’t going to cut it. In fact, if you’re going out with less than survival gear, you might as well sign your own death warrant or the consent form to amputate.