“I remember the day. School got out real early,” he recalls.
“We talked about (the rescue) almost any time there was a winter storm,” Dean said.
“The hero was Clayton Kolling. If not for him the kids on the stranded bus would have frozen,” he noted. “How he walked to nearby farms and back, loaded with blankets, and managed to find the bus every time … that was unbelievable!”
Dean was not one of the students on the bus. His family lived in town. He and other strong young men were put to work loading a bus with blanket and candy bars at the school. This was to be the rescue bus, driven in the caravan by Dean’s father, Luverne Monson.
He remembers watching men work on the Cat, trying to get it started in the bitterly cold weather.
“At first they couldn’t get it to fire, but they finally got it,” he said. “They would have never made it without the Cat.”
Dean remembers his father telling stories about the rescue.
“My father drove the bus, and couldn’t see the Cat ahead of it. He kept ‘tapping’ the back of the Cat, so that’s the reason why they chained the two together,” Dean said.
Ultimately, Dean credits the driver of the stranded bus, Clayton Kolling, for his ability to make multiple walks in the blizzard to call for help and bring blankets to the freezing children.
“He was tough as nails,” Dean said.