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In days of yore

The Spirit of Tehachapi


It seems that Susan Wiggins and I have been touching on the same train of thought in our articles as of late. It’s strange for we never consult with one another about the topics we choose for our columns. She is from Mojave and I, a couple of generations ahead of her, also started off in Mojave. A few articles past, she talked about the winter of 1937 which was an extra cold and “weathery” year both in Mojave and Tehachapi. That was the year our family moved back to Tehachapi from Mojave after an eleven year absence. We moved in October of that year and were able to discover that Tehachapi was to be in on the hard winter, as well.

We would often awaken to snow, which thrilled my brother and I . We had moved to a farm in Old Town and when the school bus didn’t come, we didn’t go to school. In those days, however, the town kids still had to attend classes. We would return the next day bragging about our day off. However, a few years later we moved to town and I found out that on snowy days school was fun, for the teachers read to us and we played games and didn’t study very hard. I cannot remember if we had a white Christmas that year of 1937 but it was a wonderful year and there was lots of the white stuff in which to play.

A few years later, in December of 1941, there was 21 inches of precipitation in the Tehachapi Valley. On December 24 ,in the evening, large¸ fluffy flakes began to fall straight down without a hint of wind to disturb them. That was the year of the December 7 Pearl Harbor attacks that began U.S. involvement in World War II. The quiet, peaceful, flakes seem to be trying to compensate for the troubled times that would come for the next four years. It wasn’t a particularly happy Christmas at our house for my elder brother would be leaving in a few days for duty in the Army¸ not to return to stay until December, 1945. Before the war ended my other brother would be serving our country as well.

On April 26,1945, a Thursday, I awoke to – you guessed it – snow. I, by that time was a Junior at Tehachapi High School and still was thrilled to find snow thickly covering the ground.

Stepping off the front steps I sank to my knees and at the same time the Assistant Coach Kossow, drove by in his car calling out, “No School today!” That was the only time in my school days that there was an official snow day where all of the students stayed home.

Christmas of 1951 found me and my baby son spending a year in Tehachapi while my husband was off to the Korean Conflict which is what they called the war they had going over there. By this time the wonder of seeing snow falling had sort of “cooled” and I wasn’t very much excited about it. My husband had left me with a black Buick sedan and I wanted dry roads upon which to drive. He loved me but he loved his car, too and I was a very new driver. I think he was worried! Sure enough it snowed on Christmas that year. Hubby got home in September of 1952 to find us waiting plus , also waiting was a five months old baby boy. Also, his car survived without a scratch or dent! On the 27th of that month (September) we left Tehachapi for Camp Pendleton during an early, surprise snow storm. An Eastern snow which included Mojave as well.

Finally, in 1993 , here in our home town, at Christmas Midnight Mass, I looked up from the choir as we sang and when the church door opened to late comers I saw the familiar flakes through the open door. No elation from me, just the thought, “Boy, I hope I get home in one piece” I must have for I’m still here!

Each day when I look at the paper and check the temperatures in other states, one can know that winter in the Midwest will have cold temps, probably snow and icy roads. That’s where, we, in Tehachapi do our own thing. Christmas Day in our town presents its own weather in many colors. At this writing the leaves are still clinging to many trees. It just snowed a day or so ago but on Christmas Day we’ll take what comes. We may be building a snow man in the front yard or taking a leisurely bike ride on a sunny December afternoon.


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