by Scott Wheeler
Holland, Vermont, is one of those communities that seems to get snow when very few flakes fall on its neighboring communities. To this day, keeping that border community’s roads plowed has proved challenging, particularly because of the wind that whips across the expansive fields. That wind picks up and carries the snow, creating drifts across the roads—drifts that plow truck drivers constantly battle to keep the roads passable.
Bill Worth, now of Newport, remembers the winter of 1959 when the school bus he was a passenger on became mired in a wind-whipped snowstorm.
When the bus carrying ten or 12 students left the Holland School (located where the current elementary school is today, but at the time was a much smaller wood frame school), it was snowing and blowing, Worth said. The bus soon began having trouble getting though the drifts of snow which were growing deeper in the roads.
“Back then when they plowed the roads they did it with a grader,” he said. “There were big, high banks.” The trouble with the banks, though, is the windblown snow often went up and over the snow banks and settled onto the road, sometimes making them impassable. He told how it wasn’t uncommon for him to get up in the morning, walk into the kitchen, and find two or three people sitting there with his parents. The visitors had become hopelessly stuck in the snow. And if his memory serves him correctly, on at least one occasion, one of the visitors was one of the town’s plowmen who got stuck plowing the road.
Nearing the intersection where four roads meet, including the Holland Pond and Page Hill Roads, the school bus finally couldn’t go any further. It came to a stop about a quarter of a mile from the home of Worth’s parents.
“The bus couldn’t get up through so my father took his Super C Farmall tractor down to pull it out, but the tractor got stuck and he wasn’t able to make it,” Worth said. “Since he wasn’t any help, the bus driver had us get out of the bus. We had to walk hand-in-hand. The wind was really howling as we walked. We couldn’t walk in the road because it was snowed in. We walked in the field to get to my parents’ house.”
Once at the house he seems to recall his parents calling the parents of the other children, telling them their children were safe. A handful of parents fought the blowing and drifting snow with horses to pick up their children. About eight children, in addition to the Worth children, spent the night at the Worth home.
He finds it funny that more than 50 years after being snowbound he remembers some of the tiny details.
“I remember we ate salmon pea wiggle,” Worth said. “I also remember we watched Rin Tin Tin and the Lone Ranger on TV.” Come bedtime, he said, the children scattered throughout the house finding comfortable places to sleep.
As he remembers it, most of the children didn’t return home until the following afternoon.
Although Worth has many vivid details about the snowstorm that transformed his home into a sleepover, he isn’t certain about what month the storm hit in 1959, but he suspects it was in March. He has a newspaper clipping of the children being stranded, but the date of the storm and the date of the clipping are not included.