Just What Was a Texas Blue Norther?

BLUE NORTHERYou don’t have to live in Texas very long to know that we are a state of extremes, especially when it comes to our weather. It was no different in the Texas of the 19th century as Mollie Moore Godbold recorded in her family memories. Our thank you goes out to Ruth Adelle Waggoner for allowing us to reprint many of Mollie’s writings.

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During the years we lived in the mesquite flat, Comanche suffered some of the severest weather of its history, so far as old settlers remembered. There were the blue northers and the droughts. The blue norther came without warning and when the weather had been unseasonably warm. A bank as blue as indigo suddenly would appear in the north. Then a wind as cutting as to seem to pierce to the marrow, so strong as to almost sweep people off their feet, would come howling from that direction.

So rapidly would the temperature drop that within twenty minutes after the norther struck, men who had been going about comfortably in their shirt-sleeves would find the moisture from their breath freezing on mustaches or beards.

One of the worst of these northers blew in one Saturday morning the winter my sister Percy was born. Ponds froze solid, livestock froze, oil froze in lamps. The people felt that they themselves were in danger of freezing, their homes not having been built for such cold.

No more work was done than necessary. Cooking was confined to dishes that could be prepared quickest; meals were eaten around fireplaces or stoves; beds were spread with a lick and a promise, dishes left unwashed.

But there was certain work which had to be done as usual. Livestock had to be fed and waterred, cows milked, wood brought in.

How fireplaces and stoves ate wood during such weather! Dad, Bob, and Mack scarcely got thawed after bringing in one load before they had to go out in the cold to bring in another.

During the day, all of us stayed in the south bedroom, which was easier to heat than Dad and Mother’s room. At times, the stove would be red hot. Still, a short distance from the stove, the room was so cold that Mother didn’t dare put two-week-old on the bed, but held her in her arms to keep her warm.

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As I’ve said, I’m so thankful I live today and not then!

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About Fredda Jones

Fredda Davis Jones was raised “in the country” in Comanche County and learned very early that creativity and innovation are traits that can flourish even in small-town Texas and that with enough effort, indeed nothing is impossible, including being married to the same man for over 40 years! Rickey and Fredda have 2 children, 5 grandchildren, and a crazy life that includes sitting in the bleachers several times a week. The rest of her time is spent creating great content for texansunited.com and marketing small-town Texas.
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