Christmas is a time of peace on earth and good will
But most years the events of the world color those good
wishes and create a different holiday season message.
Some events are outside the control of man. Things like
storms and earthquakes can hamper the holiday spirit and change the holiday
from one of visiting relatives to just struggling to survive. That will happen
in the northern hemisphere when you hold a holiday during the winter season.
Other events a world away can change the spirit of the
season. Wars and strife on other continents can influence the holiday at home
in some cases.
All of those things ganged up on the people of Stutsman
County at Christmas of 1935.
Events or the world were on a slow simmer towards World
War II that winter.
Italy was already fighting a war in Ethiopia. Germany had
invaded Poland starting to set the stage for the European theater of that war.
Japan was fighting the Chinese in Manchuria setting the stage for the Pacific
theater of World War II. Events of all of these conflicts were on the front
page of the Jamestown Sun in the days around Christmas, 1936.
Then there was the blizzard. The storm of 1936 caught
most by surprise and seemed to strike on the afternoon of Christmas eve.
The ferocity of the storm stranded travelers in the open
country. While some people traveled by cars and trucks others still used
horse-powered transportation. The greatest tragedy came to a couple trying to
get their farm from Fried by a horse-drawn wagon.
Paul Antonowitz and his wife visited the stores in Fried
that afternoon for groceries. The towns people suggested they stay over and
wait out the storm. They chose instead to try to get home to their three
children who had stayed on the farm 2 and a half miles north of Fried.
The storm was severe enough to disorient the horses and
soon had them traveling in circles. The cold and exertion of walking through
the snow exhausted the team of horses which died in their harnesses.
Paul Antonowitz went out walking around the wagon hoping
to find a house. The exertion took a toll on him as well. Sometime in the night
he died of exposure even though he had managed to get back to the wagon and his
His wife survived the night in the box of the wagon and
spotted a farm home at sunrise. She walked to the home where neighbors spent
the Christmas holiday taking her to the Jamestown Hospital and collecting the
In the 75 years since the world has not become a more
peaceful place and the threat of wars still continues. But let us hope for good
weather and safe travel and a Christmas of family and joy.
May you have a safe and happy holiday season from Keith
and Jane Norman.