There is one particular incident of growing up on a cattle ranch in eastern Nevada that I remember clearly.
During our high school years, to complete our education, the Jacobsen children had to move to the town of Eureka, which was 30 miles away by dirt road. Thirty miles now is thought of as just a short spin on the free-way. In 1937 this trip to town to get back to school could have cost us our lives.
We had a cold, long winter and Vera and I had gone home to spend the holidays with our family. Our brother, Harold, had already finished his high school education.
By the first of the year we were snowed in, and could not get to Eureka by car to resume high school. Two weeks into January our parents decided to send us back to town by sleigh. They chose two of their strongest horses and Harold was to drive us back to Eureka.
The night before we left, the men butchered a beef for Harold to deliver to town, along with his twin sisters. The sleigh was loaded with half a beef, blankets and other items to keep us warm. As well as food, we were supplied with hot bricks and hot water bottles which soon cooled off in the cold. Hot drinks soon turned to ice.
It was a clear day and it was estimated that we would reach town in 6 to 8 hours of steady traveling. We stopped at our neighbor’s ranch at about 10:00 am, and their thermometer was still registering 24 degrees below zero. At noon, we were beginning our trip across Diamond Valley. We waited until 3:00 to stop to feed and water the horses. We tried to start a fire in the sagebrush, but found it was impossible. On starting again on our journey, we took turns driving the horses while two of us ran behind the sleigh to keep warm. It was cold enough that we could look at each other and see our noses or other parts of our faces turn white under the skin from no circulation.
It was very lucky that we three teenagers knew how to cope with the cold. After 15 hours on the road, we arrived safely in Eureka. It was certainly a beautiful sight when we saw the lights of the small town ahead of us, even though it was 3:00 in the morning.
We were very lucky that we made the trip safely. With Vera suffering frost bite on her toes and later losing toenails, we survived the frosty adventure. We learned later that three C.C. Camp boys had frozen to death when caught in the cold the night before.
I often wonder how our parents endured the worry they must have felt until Harold returned back from Eureka two days later. We had broken a trail for him to follow. During my childhood, growing up on a cattle ranch, we had no telephone to keep tab on things like this. Ranchers had really to be of sturdy stock.