This is the conclusion of the story I wrote many years ago of a day in my life when I was twelve.
Enos asked one of the eighth grade boys to close the curtain. This curtain was made of heavy canvas and was faded green. It hung from a rod and would be pulled together and snapped in the middle. I was always envious of the boys for having that job. It’s not that I wanted to be a boy, I just wanted to close the curtain. But then again, the girls got to rotate the job of washing the blackboards and sweeping the floor every afternoon. I wanted to do both.
After our German reading we had our arithmetic lessons. Enos started with the fifth graders and moved through each grade. When he got to the seventh grade, we exchanged our papers. Then Enos would call the answers to the problems we had solved the day before and we checked one another’s papers. Enos would give us grades according to the number we had right or wrong. Then he had each of us call out our grade as he recorded it in his grade book.
After arithmetic came our spelling lesson. We were assigned a list of words each week. Each day the lesson varied. Sometimes we wrote sentences, using each of the spelling words to show we knew the meaning of it.
And here is where this piece of writing ends. I faintly remember that I wrote this as a typical day in school because I was leading up to a story I did keep. This happened that afternoon.
I noticed that look of pain cross Enos’s face several times, but then I saw a look of concern there that I had never seen before.
His desk faced the windows and all the pupils’ desks faced him. I turned around in my seat and looked out into the schoolyard. Outside it was almost as dark as night. I could see the barn in the eerie darkness, thirty feet from the schoolhouse. Then the wind hit the side of the schoolhouse with a loud thud. I looked out and saw snow whirling out of the darkness. Enos’s voice became very serious as he told one of the older boys to open the curtain. He talked to all the pupils in a serious tone of voice. The schoolroom was quieter than I had ever heard it. He said we had to leave the schoolhouse immediately, and that we should all dress as warmly and as quickly as we could, then we would form a chain with everyone holding hands. Enos instructed the older children to hold hands with the younger children. He looked sternly at the older boys and said, “This is not a time to worry about whose hand you are holding. Under no circumstances is anyone to let go of one another’s hands.” Enos explained that w
e were going to walk down to the end of school driveway to meet Yoxall. The children waiting for the second and third load would stay at the Yoders, who lived out by the road.
I looked out again and saw a sheet of white. The wall of the barn was no longer visible. We filed down to the basement and quickly put on our wraps.
Everyone lined up with Enos in the front of the line, Barbara Yoder, at the end of the line, and us pupils in between. Then Enos opened the door and the blizzard came in to meet us. What a biting wind! We all waited while Barbara closed the door, then we walked. The wind came from all directions at once. It filled up my throat and took my breath away. It blew underneath my dress, stinging my legs like needles and pushed, pulled, grabbed at me. Most of the time I couldn’t see the person ahead of me whose hand I was holding. I wondered how Enos knew where to go. I knew that if we got lost we would walk in circles. I remembered reading about that in the Laura Ingalls Wilder stories. That quarter mile walk had never seemed so long. I was just beginning to wonder if we were lost when someone bumped into Raymond Yoder’s barn.
Yoxall was waiting for us. I wondered how he had managed to get there.
We were on the first load with the Gingeriches and the Yoders. We tried to be really quiet so Yoxall could concentrate. I wondered how he knew where to go. Most of the time he was driving into a white wall with a few quick glimpses of the rood in front of us. He made it to the Gingeriches, and then he got stuck. John Gingerich came with the tractor to pull out the station wagon. John was just hitching up the car to the tractor with a chain, when Datt came walking out of the storm. He had come to walk us home. I didn’t want to walk because I was already so cold, but I knew we had to. It was a half-mile walk, but it seemed like five. We were all nearly frozen when we walked in the lane. That’s when I noticed Datt’s ear, as white as a dead man’s ear. I had never seen a frozen ear before, so at first I didn’t know what it was. We were coming to the door when we remembered we had to enter the house through the cellar. Our regular door wouldn’t stay closed, so we kept it propped shut with a broomstick. All of a sudden we heard a loud crashing noise, then Mem screaming and crying out in pain. We hurried through the cellar and found her in a heap on the concrete floor below the stairs. She had seen us coming, and hurried down to open the door for us. A fine snow had sifted through the crack in the door onto the painted floor of the landing, making it slippery. Mem had stepped on that and fallen on her back, down the five steps to the cellar. So there we all were, cold as ice blocks. My legs and face were stinging, Datt’s ear was frozen, and Mem couldn’t get up. Datt helped her stand up, then the rest of us walked cautiously up the stairs. I got a rag and wiped up the landing. Then Datt helped Mem up the stairs, one at a time. Mem sat down and cried on the couch for a while. She had a nice fire going in the stove and we crowded around it. Mem took me into the bedroom and asked me to describe what her back looked like. It was black and blue, from her shoulder blades all the way down to her hips, with deeper bruises where she hit the edge of the stairs on the way down. She was still groaning in pain.
I made supper. I knew Datt loved mashed potatoes, so I made some. I also made creamed chicken, carrots, and applesauce, with oatmeal cake for dessert. While I was making supper, Lizzie did the dishes, Sarah and Susie filled the wood box, and Simon helped Joe with the chores.
Joe had gotten home from work early because the driver of the carpenter crew had heard the predictions of the blizzard on the radio and had come to get them.
Later I heard that Yoxall got everyone home without any mishaps. I still to this day do not understand how he did that.
So, this concludes my story of a day in my life at twelve years old. As this story demonstrates, there is no typical day in the life of an Amish person. Even without the blizzard a day in my life would not be a day in another Amish person’s life because we each have a different way of perceiving or experiencing our world and our lives.