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‘Our lucky day’

By Staff | Sep 1, 2017

Bryce Berginski/PCT Larry Kraft (right) and his family took in Doyle (left) and Kerry Lentz in a severe snow storm in March, and Elmer Boucher (middle) and his family in 1947.

Larry Kraft’s family had taken in several stranded persons during a severe snow storm in March.

Among the persons taken in were Doyle & Kerry Lentz, of Rolla.

But it wasn’t the first time Larry Kraft’s family had taken in persons stranded by a snow storm.

Over 70 years ago, Kraft’s family took in Elmer Boucher and his family.

According to the Feb. 6, 1947 edition of the Tribune, a severe, “dirty” blizzard hit the area twice, the first from the early evening hours on Friday, Jan. 31 to the morning of Feb. 1 and the second from Sunday, Feb. 2 until the next morning.

And the Bouchers who lived in Rolette County at the time had been caught in the second one on a return trip from Minot in their 1941 Ford vehicle.

Snowbound on what were gravel roads at the time, Elmer recalled that the 1941 Fords had “good” heaters and the heater in their vehicle was more than helpful.

“That gas heater really saved us,” Elmer said.

Elmer’s brother walked for one mile and had seen gas lanterns shining through a window on what was Kraft’s farm. Kraft recalled that his father would light gas lanterns in the morning, and that to have visitors at their farm because it was so far off the road was unusual.

The Krafts came for the Bouchers and took them to their place, where they stayed for 3-4 days. The Bouchers haven’t forgotten it since.

“[It was] our lucky day,” Elmer said.

Seventy years later Doyle & Kerry Lentz had left Rolla and had turned south on Highway 3.

And the weather got ugly from there.

“Lo and behold, our luck came to an end [near Highway 17],” Doyle said.

The Lentzes were stuck.

For a time the Lentzes couldn’t see vehicles around them that were stranded as well. Doyle said the way they could tell if the storm was letting up was if they could see power pole that was downed in a ditch.

“It kept getting worse and worse,” Kerry said.

Eventually the Lentzes saw a welcome sight, big yellow rims on a John Deere tractor as well as a truck behind it.

A total of 14 people were guests at the Larry & Paula Kraft home in the March storm.

“People just kept coming,” Larry said. His son, David, helped bring in stranded persons. Larry also recalled that at one point the electricity went out and at another the water heater wouldn’t work. Both issues were resolved.

“[You] don’t appreciate the situation until [you’re] in it,” Doyle said.

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