Jean was listening to the radio and knew a Chokio bus was stranded south of town. Since school was cancelled for the blizzard. But as the day wore on, Arnie didn’t come home.
Finally she got the word. Superintendent Burton Nypen was shocked that she didn’t know.
“Didn’t anyone call you?” he asked. “Arnie is a chaperone on the stranded bus.”
Jean kept listening to the radio, and heard that they were trying to get a snowplow out to the stranded bus.
Heidi was old enough to remember that when Dad was away from home, she sometimes was allowed to sleep by her mother. She began her campaign early.
“If Dad is gone, I can sleep with you,” she told her mother enthusiastically.
Meanwhile, Arnie had his hands full supervising and encouraging the bus load of students while driver Clayton Kolling made three forays into the storm, twice bringing back blankets and candy for the freezing students.
Arnie coordinated bathroom trips, not allowing students to be outside the bus alone, and then requiring the students to stay right by the bus door. The blowing snow was so fierce a child could have been easily lost.
Arnie’s job was made a bit easier as the older girls took the young girls under their wings, and, in a similar fashion, the older boys were mindful of the younger boys.
Jean said Arnie took off his own winter jacket and used it to wrap around some little girls. Instead of slacks and boots, some girls wore patent leather shoes and tights.
“Arnie made them keep moving. The students crawled over the seats. He told them they could not just sit, they had to keep moving. They were very lucky the way that it turned out,” Jean recalled.
Through it all, Arnie was aware that Clayton’s life was in danger.
“Arnie said ‘I didn’t have time to be scared. I couldn’t think about it. You have to do what you can do to survive,’ Jean remembers.
However, Jean says Arnie did get scared after it was all over, thinking of how the outcome could have been disastrous. Arnie told her, “You couldn’t show the kids you were scared.”
The day’s drama was not over when Arnie walked through the family’s front door about dinner time. He was met by his pint-sized daughter who was furious that his presence cancelled her bedtime plans.
“Now I can’t sleep with Momma!” she wailed.