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Armistice Day Blizzard, November 11, 1940 Remembered by Charlie Fritz, Rippey, IA

Memories of Charlie Fritz: The Armistice Day Blizzard, November 11, 1940.

When I was the assistant librarian, and then later the librarian, in Rippey, Charlie came in at least once a week. At some point, he started writing down memories for some of his family members. He would come in and make copies for each of them and always wanted me to read what he had written. He was glad to let me have a copy of this memory of the Armistice Day Blizzard of November 11, 1940. I had stuck it away and found it these many years later. I asked Vernon if I could share it on our web site and he graciously said yes.

I have fond memories of Charlie and Marion and enjoyed visiting with them. Charlie was born December 11, 1998 and died November 30, 2001. Marion was born February 15, 1904 and died June 19, 2002. They were married December 25, 1922. I remember Velda DeMoss, and Mary Weaver and I serving a family dinner in honor of their 75th wedding anniversary on December 26, 1997. What a wonderful tribute to a very nice couple that was.

Jean Borgeson

Armistice Day, November 11, 1940


Charles O. Fritz, November 20, 1997


"We were living on one of George McCormick’s farms, two miles southeast of Rippey, IA, having moved there from Menlo, early in 1938.

The way I remember, we had some rain earlier, and this day started out fairly warm and the air had a damp, soft feeling. We had our morning chores done and had turned the cows and feeding cattle out to feed on the corn stalks and grass that was available at that time of the year.

We evidently heard over the radio at breakfast that a bad storm was about to break upon us. Marion went to the garden to dig up the carrots before the storm came. The ground was real muddy, so it wasn’t a pleasant job.

Vernon, Veryl, and I started to get the hogs and horses into the sheds and barn. This accomplished, we turned our attention to getting the cows and feeding cattle to shelter, as by that time the wind had turned to the north-west. The snow came down real fast and it was real hard to face into the wind.

There was a large, long, evergreen row of trees west of the buildings, extending well past the barn to the north. The cattle, driven by the wind and snow, had gathered and bunched up west of the evergreen grove, and clear to the road fence, on the south. To get them to the barn for shelter, it was necessary to drive them north, on the west side of the grove, for them to get back around the north end of the grove, so they could again head south to the shed and barn.

The boys were 12 years old and real brave and helpful, to face such a severe storm and help drive the cattle into the storm. Vernon reminded me, just a few days ago, the cattle broke back several times, and we had to get them to face the storm again.

We finally were able to get the milk cows into the barn and the stock cattle into the cattle shed. We still had to get the old sows into shelter, so drove them in with the cows, where they were behind or around the cows. In that way we were able to save all our livestock.

Lofstedt Bros. weren’t so lucky. Three or more of their fat steers froze or suffocated, standing on their feet, just north of their grove. They stood there until the next March. I don’t remember how many others they lost.

The weather turned real cold and stayed cold all winter. The temperature was -4, the 12th; -1, the 13th; -2, the 14th; and -1 the 15th. I don’t have the record for the rest of the winter. The snow, however, was one foot deep when I finished picking my corn. I think that was January 3, 1941. I waited for a while, thinking the snow would melt. It didn’t, so I finished, wading one foot of snow, and real cold weather. The ground didn’t freeze because it was covered with the deep snow."


In my imagination, I see that Marion got all those carrots dug and by the time the "men" got in the house, there was a big pot of stew on the stove, smelling wonderful, to help warm their frozen bodies! What a welcome sight that must have been. How good the fire must have felt and how good that first spoonful must have tasted. I’ll bet their favorite desert had been made, also!!! How glad they must have felt that they had gotten all the livestock into shelter. Jean B.