xt7jh98zct60_16 https://exploreuk.uky.edu/dips/xt7jh98zct60/data/mets.xml https://exploreuk.uky.edu/dips/xt7jh98zct60/data/2015ms086.dao.xml Bevins, Martha 0.05 Cubic Feet 55 items archival material 2015ms086 English University of Kentucky The physical rights to the materials in this collection are held by the University of Kentucky Special Collections Research Center.  Contact the Special Collections Research Center for information regarding rights and use of this collection. Martha Bevins letters to Tom McCarthy Radio broadcasting. Agriculture -- Kentucky. Birds Women air pilots. 1957 February text 1957 February 2016 https://exploreuk.uky.edu/dips/xt7jh98zct60/data/2015ms086/Box_ms_42/Folder_1/Item_16/1957_2_1_Bevins_Recollections_of1918_Big_Freeze__p1.pdf 1957 February 1957 1957 February section false xt7jh98zct60_16 xt7jh98zct60 I .
‘ : .7 9L6“ /‘]5’?
horning View Kentucky
hello hr. heCarthy,
,. The recent possibility of the Ohio's freezing over sent me Wandering
‘ far back through the long halls of memory; and I find I Was away
watching distant, Warmer Waters in the 308, but have very sharp
recollections of the 1918 freeze.
Some one wisely decided that shhool would be dismissed when word
came down from upstream that the ice was breaking up and beginning
to move. We were to txke street cars to EeWport where we could Watch
from the river bank under the careful eye of accompanying teachers.
However, word trickled down from class to class (one building Was
ample to house both grade and high school in those long ago days)
that Some of the ”big kids” were not going to NeWport, but were
simply going to walk down to the river where it passed below our
hills. They believed the ice would be running before the galloping
little cars could complete the trip to NeWport. Best of all, it Was
rumored that the masonry stem of the Covington pump house would be
snapped right off by the driving ice, and the NeWport pump hOuse
would be badly dam ged. Our little gang decided the big kids knew
- best.
Upon release, wise in the ways of big kids, we grouped quickly and
quietly, and set off for the river at our best Speed. It would be
impossible to accuse us of tagging along if we were leading the way.
We were Still amid the hilltops when they overtook us and grumbled
at us. We explained, truthfully, that a man at the NeWport pump
house had told us the ice would punch holes in it and that we could
cone Watch if we wished. Their efforts to turn us back were half—
hearted; they didn't Want to waste the time. Off they dashed, while
we, like the straggling tail of a kite, panted after.
An abandoned read wound rockily down the last steep wooded hillside
to the pump house, but that Was too indirect. Shouting and leaping
over obstacles, the big Children poured down the rough little foot—
path which plunged straight down the vicious slope. he were less
' noisy, lacking breath for unnecessary talk, and being very buSy
i‘ scrambling over fallen trees and other obstructions.
We arrived at the railroad which lies along the river just in time
to see the others V nishing betWeen the cars of a long freight
standing on the track, each end of it very far away. We could not
.very well climb over the couplings between cars, so, with scarcely
a;pause, we were on hands and knees crawling across the track under
a box car. It Was frightening under there, and we provoked distant
trainmen to clamor, but without incident we joined the others on the
river bank.



It Was an excellent Spot for observation, the deep Water, channel,

and strong current being close to our shore. The river ley Quiet

before us. We were in time. The shore ice Wrs a high—mounded jumble

of great cakes while beyond it wide, companatively smooth surfaces

lay between lesser heaps of up-ended cakes. The river had not gorged


after Waiting to ascertain that no ice was in motion, the big kids
picked their Way through the shore ice out onto the wide areas. It

Was not particularly slippery, snow having fallen and frozen into a

rough crusted surface. We followed, only to be peremptorily ordered

back, our protests that -— without parental knowledge of course, --

we had been playing on the ice almost daily for weeks, to no avzil.
They were sure that, being older, they would be bl:ned if anything

happened to us. ns it developed, once the ice w:s moving, the shore

Was just about as perilous as the river itself. Some huge timbers,

such as those used to construct the old wooden ice breakers, were
scattered about and we perched on those.

buddenly the river made a terrific noise —- a pressure sound like that
of a high velocity bullet passing close overhead, but much more
prolonged. The boys out on the ice returned in panic and we all looked,
but there was nothing to see. From far upstream came a combined
rumbling and crashing, as though a train had jumped the track into a
forest and Was sending big trees splintering to the ground.

With a thumping clang, a meandering crack ran diagonally dOWnstream
through the ice before us, the expised water seeming almost black.

Then the din from upstream was upon us and our ice began to shatter
and move, slowly at first with frequent jams and stops. Finally it

Was all moving swiftly except for the sndhored siore ice against Which
the floes churned and banged.

Without Warning, 3 great slab of the moving ice, perhaps fifty feet
across, and, to my eyes, at least tWQ feet thick, was squeezed entirely
out of the river and came hurtling up over the jagged shore ice
directly before us. The big kids, closer to the river than we, ran right
over us in hasty retreat, while, in every direction, like projectiles,
whizzed and clattered chunks of ice sheared off by the overriding cake.
nmaZingly, no one Was hit, and we gathered up and marvelled at the
pieces, some of them as big as basketballs.

Somewhere upstream the Water must have been high when it froze, for
many things unaquatic in nature such as half crushed chicken houses

and shattered trees passed With the ice, along with occasional assotted
boats. There Was a moment of enthusiastic excitement when it seemed that
a barge loaded with coal would hit squarely on the outer corner of the
Newport pump house, but it missed by a few feet.

Suddenly, a great slab of ice, trapped between the still motionless
shore ice and the current, rose slowly before us until it stood on
edge and seemed as tall as a hOuse. It paused for a moment, then

 ' .
, 3

boomed down upon the shore ice behind our retreating heels. Once again
the air Was filled with icy projectiles, and once again there were no
casualties, though one of the great tibers on which we had stood
was sent bounding out onto the moving ice as though it were a netdh Stick.
Scarcely had we subsided to normal excitement, when a half crushed
shanty boat approached. On the tiny front deck crouched a houmdish sort
of dog. The din from our spot on the river bank was terrific. The
dog looked, but mede no move to abandon his boat. "Whyncha go get him?
Whynchs go get him," we pestered the big boys, and were indignantly
unbelieving when they said they couldn't. Several ran to the pump house
where men had already seen the dog and were Calling too. again he just
looked. I suppose hundreds of voices had called him as he made his
perilous ride downstream, but to him the shanty boat Was home and he
would not leave it. The pump house phoned the police or some one down
town, and we Jeyfully heard next day that he had been rescued when
his boat caught in shore ice near the bridges.
There Was something to thch every aoment as the ice cakes fought their
way down the river -~ once a great, jagged ball of ice compounded of
aany flat cakes, which slowly rolled over and.over, creating a great
disturbance in the surrounding floes.
All at once it wrs late afternoon and we were cold and very tired. Even
youthful anflnusiasm weakened before the constant movement of the ice
with its inceSSant accompanying noise. we began to talk of going home.
I looked down the river toward down, and there, on a ridge top, the

' windows of home looked back at me. It would have been easy to Walk less
than a mile down the railroad track, then up the wooded hillside right
into ny own back yard. But such an approach Was all wrong if we were
sup osed to have been in hewport. Consequently, we of our neighborhood
wearily detoured the long way around and reached our homes properly
by street as though Walking from the street ear.
Years 1 ter, when in Buffalo to pick up an airplane, I went out to
watch ice going over Niagra. It Was a fearsome sight as the cakes
hurtled into the gorge below; but somehow, it is only a blurred, not
too important memory now, completd.y overshadowed by that 1918
afternoon on the river bank when flue Ohio ice went out.

. ~incerely,