SUNNY CAL JOURNAL - A Snowbound Thanksgiving Rescue


By Bob Weaver 2002

The coming of winter in Sunny Cal has been marked by a dab of snow for the holidays, but yesterdays temperatures almost struck 50 degrees and more warm weather is in the forecast.

Such warming and lack of snow gives rise to tales of how winter use to be, recalling how winter "set-in" and stuck for the season.

The snow was deeper than I can remember that Thanksgiving Day in 1950, a historic snow well-remembered by the aging.

We went to the roadside in front of our house at Hur with a yardstick, sticking it downward for a measurement, to be lost in the snowdrift.

Snow was drifted against the house reaching the windows as the wind sweep the frigid air across the Hur hillsides. It was not fit for man or beast, and much time was spent rescuing animals from the field.

Two or three years earlier, when a blizzard swept across the village and out the Husk, two people froze to death inside Godfrey Fritz's barn.

The Hur Telephone Company's trunk line to Grantsville was broken by the heavy snow, and during the next two days groups of local men "walked the line" around the St. Paul ridge and down Pine Creek to restore service to the outside world.

The single-wire "crank'em up" phone ran through pine thickets and green briers, roughly strung above the ground on glass insulators on an occasional pole. Snow laden trees fell across the wire in several places and roads were impassable for motor vehicles.

Holly Kerby, Alva Bell and Hunkerin' Ed Cooper allowed me to tag along, trudging through drifts nearly over my head. It was so cold, even Hunkerin' Ed did not hunker to smoke his Camel cigarettes, he just kept going, taking small pieces of wire and a pair of pliers to make the re-connections.

We all returned to my dad and mom's house to enjoy ham meat, biscuits and gravy, with lots of hot coffee. Leona Sturm, the switchboard operator at Hur, rang the long and two shorts to relay a message to my dad that Bud Whytsell was very sick, probably having a heart attack.

My dad, Gifford Weaver, a long time employee of the State Road Commission and his brother-in-law, Ray Roach, hot-wired a road grader parked at Hur and started down snow laden Barnes Run toward Rocksdale, through fifteen foot drifts.

Bud Whytsell, who was 40 at the time, lived between Rocksdale and Richardson on the West Fork of the Little Kanawha, eight miles from the Village of Hur. Other State Road workers managed to get a doctor to the Whytsell residence and it was apparent he needed to be hospitalized.

Giff and Ray placed Bud on a farmer's sled, resting his stricken body on a mattress, well-bundled and warm. They pulled the sled several miles up Henry's Fork with the grader, pushing the snow back as they went.

Arriving at the Corder Bridge at U.S. 33-119, he was placed in an ambulance belonging to Hardman-Conrad Funeral Home and transported to the DePue Hospital in Spencer. When the weather moderated, he was taken to a Charleston hospital.

The Jesse's Run News in The Calhoun Chronicle said a couple weeks later "Thanks to the state road men he got help. He finally got settled in Charleston and is now at home, much improved. We wish him a speedy recovery." Charles "Bud" Whytsell, son of Edwin and Rettie Starcher Whytsell, died two years later in 1952.

He was the brother of our well-known pickers and singers "The Whytsell Boys," Wood and Randall. Another brother, Victor "Gene" Whytsell lives on the lower West Fork. (All now deceased)

The Blizzard of 1950 has been recalled every year since its' happening, a memorable weather event.

Hur Herald from Sunny Cal
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