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Just when it appeared that Thanksgiving would be snowed out, the most amazing things happened.
Out the schoolhouse window all I could see was a blanket of heavy white snowflakes dropping down from the heavens, the wind whipping them hard across the plains. The streets were deserted. I could just barely make out the outline of the road, but no car tracks.
Most of my students had been picked up two hours ago, an early dismissal. I myself had got ready to head home and prepare for tomorrow’s holiday. Now it looked like Thanksgiving 1951 might not happen at all.
I glanced back at the five children huddled behind me, bundled in their coats and hats. Homer and Sarah Kuntz’s kids. Their parents were unable to make it to the school. “We might be here all night,” I said when I got the call.
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“But where will we sleep?” little Twila said.
“I’m cold!” Edward added. “And hungry!” Dwight said. Warren and Dorlan nodded.
I divided the sandwich and apple from the lunch I hadn’t eaten among them. I was too nervous to eat anyway. It was up to me to keep these children safe. And calm. We’d lost power earlier, and with it the heat.
Already our breath hung in the frigid air. How long could the kids hold out in this chill? And what about my own kids? I’d called my wife, Faithe, but that was before I knew about the Kuntzes.
Faithe was home alone with our two young boys. Had they lost power? Were they cold? When I left the house in the morning Faithe was full of plans for Thanksgiving. I wasn’t feeling very thankful now.
I picked up the phone to update my wife. But when the operator tried to place the call, nothing happened. “That line’s dead,” she said.
Back at the Musser house, Faithe heard someone yelling. Her neighbor Bert Zook was standing out in his yard, hollering over the howling wind. “David’s stuck at the school,” he told her. “Your phone line is down, but he got through to my house.”
Faithe waved and went back inside. “Send your angels to protect my husband,” she prayed. He seemed so far away trapped at the school. Could angels even reach him there? Did angels have snowplows?
She surveyed the food for Thanksgiving tomorrow. Normally she’d be getting ready for a house full of guests by this time. Baking apple pies, rolling out the crusts while David peeled and sliced the apples. But no one was going to come to see them this year, not even for roasted turkey.
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She felt so lonely, even with her two boys playing by the fire.
Just then there was a knock on the door. She opened it and was startled to find two young men and a young woman huddled together on her porch. They were covered with snow, their cheeks red from the wind.
“We’re college students,” one of the men said. “We were on our way home for the holiday and my car slid into a ditch. Would you have any room for us?”
“Why of course,” Faithe said. “Come in and get warm by the fire. I’ll make a pot of coffee.” Here I was feeling lonely, she thought, and now I have unexpected guests. She almost had to laugh.
Fresh coffee made, she was just pouring when again there was a loud, urgent rapping.
“My delivery truck spun off the road,” said the man outside the door. “I saw your light on. Would you have a place I could stay?”
“I’m sure we can figure something out. Do you like coffee?”
Faithe had prayed for angels to protect her husband, but God had also heard her silent plea for company. Now she had a house full. Where were they all going to sleep? Plus she needed to get started on something for dinner.
She was walking to the kitchen when—No! It couldn’t be—she heard the sound of feet stamping on the porch.
Two men, linemen for Kansas Power & Light. “Our truck slid into a ditch,” one said.