Audrey Erickson was working at the bank in town and had picked up their daughter Janet, 9, and a friend of Janet’s, along for a sleepover.
“On the way home she couldn’t see and ran into the ditch,” recalls Jim.
“That was a dumb venture, I tell you,” Audrey jokes. “But I wanted to get home!” After getting stuck, Audrey assessed the situation.
“We had just passed a corner and I knew that family had a car sitting on the end of the driveway,” she said. They got out of their stalled car and began walking to that car. To protect the children, Audrey opened her coat and the two girls walked behind and on either side of her, using the panels of the coat to break the wind and protect their faces.
Relieved to find the neighbors’ car unlocked, they piled in long enough to catch their breaths. Once rested, they walked about a block through deep snow to the neighbors’ farmhouse. Even as the intrepid trio stood at the farm’s garage, the family inside could not see them. In clear weather, their presence would have been noticed immediately.
Audrey’s heroic use of her coat to protect the girls resulted in severe freezing of her legs. Jim heard later that the Rural Electric Association men who worked on their farm that morning took refuge in Artichoke Lutheran Church.
(Audrey Erickson is sister to Roy Erickson.)