November 11, 1941 was Armistice Day. My brother Keith, Dick Johnson, Mel Enquist and I were going to Patrick Henry that morning to put on our band uniforms. Our high school band was going to march to the flagpole on Victory Memorial Drive where they were going to have an Armistice Day program with the VFW and American Legion Post. After getting into our uniforms and coming out to the street, we noticed it had started to sprinkle a little bit and the sky had turned from a bright sunny day to gray clouds.
The band director, Don Moldenhauer, decided to have us change back into street clothes so the uniforms would not get wet. Then we came back out to the street and lined up to practice a couple of songs, marching up and down the street. By then it had started to drizzle a little harder. The band director decided to cancel going to the program at the flagpole. After putting our instruments away, some of us decided to go to the flagpole anyway. The flagpole was almost one mile from Henry High. Now, two things to remember-the day started warm and the sun was shining bright. Also, we were wearing low shoes, jeans, sweatshirts and no jackets. The second thing was, at that time we did not have any weather center's Doppler radar to tell us what kind of weather was forecast for the day.
When we reached the flagpole on the Victory Drive it had started to sleet. As it came down on the grass and froze, you could see all the field mice scampering through the grass. The ducks and geese were flying out of the north heading south and only about 10 feet off the ground. They were so low they would almost fly into us.
The American Legion and the VFW people decided to cancel the program. Mel, Dick, Keith and I decided to go to Grandma Nordby's house, which was adjacent to the flagpole, to get warm. She brought us into the kitchen and fed us some hot soup. By then the rain had stopped and we decided to head for home, which was almost two miles away. When we started out, the wind was on our north side and it had started to snow. It was snowing so hard and blowing so hard we could barely see ahead of us.
There were trees on the drive with bronze head plates marking the soldiers that died in WWI. We tried to keep in line with the trees and we followed them back to North Methodist Church on 44th and Fremont, and then home. We made it back to our house on 42nd and Emerson and laid down on the floor. We were really beat!
After getting warmed up, Mel took off for home and Dick left too. Keith and I still had paper routes to do, so we changed clothes and put on winter coats, boots and warm mittens. We both left to peddle papers. Keith headed for Camden and I went to 42nd and Fremont to pick up my papers. When I got there, there were no papers, so I went home. Keith got to Camden and they weren't there either. He stopped by a hamburger shop.
A police officer, who was a beat officer, was in the hamburger shop and asked Keith what he was doing out in the storm. Keith told him he was waiting for his papers. The policeman told him to "get his butt home and stay out of the storm." Keith said he had to peddle his route or he would get complaints. He did get about 20 complaints.
I decided to try again. It was just about dark. I had a 6-month-old Labrador pup and I decided to take him along. So I got his leash and away we went. The papers were finally there and we took off. The pup was having a great time in the snow. We made pretty good time and were three-fourths of the way through the route when the snow kept getting deeper. I noticed that the pup wasn't staying up with me. He was just barely crawling along. I had most of my papers delivered so I put him into my paper sack, finished the route and headed home. When we got home, Keith was there. The dog and I just laid down on the floor and didn't move.
My mother was working in downtown Minneapolis and didn't get home for two nights. The afternoon she came home, she rode home in a hearse that belonged to Swanson's Mortuary. There was no school for the rest of the week. Streetcars were stuck and off the tracks, blocking the roads and cars were blocking the rest of the streets. Traffic was tied up for five days. I will say that was my most memorable Armistice Day!
Note: Taken from Richard Nordby's book My Story. Credit to Barbara Meyer Bistodeau.