77 years ago, November 11th started out as a perfect day for migrating waterfowl. Thousands of birds filled the sky along the Mississippi River corridor, propelled by strong winds. The journeying ducks brought hunters to the river by the hundreds. Unfortunately, the weather continued to go south. By the end of the next day, 149 people, many of whom were duck hunters, had died in in the great Armistice Day Blizzard of 1940. In this episode of The DrakeCast, we speak with a man who lived through the storm while we travel back in time through the muddy backwaters to honor those who lost their lives.
This week, we have a story of tradition and remembrance, and it’s actually connected to an episode that we put out a few months ago called “Dresses & Can Cans.” If you haven’t heard this story yet, I strongly recommend you go back and give it a listen (but if you don’t want to do so, I’m sure you can make sense out of the following story without the background info).
While researching for this story, I found myself at an old folks’ home in Fountain City, Wisconsin. It’s here that I met a 91 year-old man named Dave actually lived through the great storm. “In those years the duck hunting was great. You could go out most any day and shoot some ducks – even if it was sunny. But we always preferred to go out in the morning when it was windy and cold.”
The morning of November 11, 1940 was both windy and cold. Dave’s folks made him go to school but his father rowed his wooden boat out into the Mississippi River to see if he could manage a few ducks.
“When Dad came home he had four really nice green heads and said the weather was so bad that you couldn’t shoot into the wind… he had to wait until the ducks passed to do the shooting.”
Dave’s father was lucky to make it home alive, because quite a few of his fellow duck hunters never left the river.
This episode is dedicated to our nation’s veterans and those who lost their lives in the Armistice Day Blizzard of 1940.