“It was hard driving,” he recalled. “It was very ugly, so I knew there could be problems.”
Lauren soon heard of the stranded bus, and plans to launch a rescue. His own children were too young for school, he said. The family didn’t move onto the farm south of Chokio until the following summer.
He said it didn’t matter who was on the bus; any able-bodied, available man would help with the rescue in some way.
Lauren’s International 860 tractor with cab happened to be in a shed in town. It was filled with summer-weight diesel, he said, which made the tractor run more slowly in winter. It took a while for the tractor engine to warm up.
“I suppose it was the only tractor in town,” Lauren said.
Eventually, Lauren said there were five men, including himself, crammed into the cab or perched on the side steps by the open door.
Lauren said that after the rescuers gathered at the filling station, they took the highway west a mile and a quarter, then south. The Caterpillar led the way, tied to a school bus loaded with rescuers and supplies.
“We slowly went along,” Lauren said. “It was very cold.”
Yet Lauren said he wasn’t afraid of the situation in the least.
“I grew up in western Minnesota, and had been through lots of storms. They [those on the stranded bus] were only 2 ½ miles from town,” he said. “It was just another job I thought we had to do.”
Lauren said after they arrived at the stranded bus, they transferred the students to the other bus which was warm.
“I guess we took off, then,” he said.
Lauren recalls that the weather started to let up as they headed toward the school.
“The kids were put up in various houses. They had the telephones to keep up with family members,” he said.
“We were pretty surprised to make national news,” Lauren said. “It was pretty easy, in a way. It’s a good example of a crisis when everyone who is able-bodied is able to buckle down, use caution and go and get ‘em. People were pretty diligent. We were glad to be able to do so.”