The V-plow

Brookside Milk truck on East Hill in Andover. Notice snowbanks, made by V-plow. Chester Historical Society provided the photo.

The recent snowstorm got me thinking about snowstorms of years past and how we got around in those days.

The photo with this article typifies how back roads were maintained. The Brookside Milk truck has stopped coming up East Hill in Andover in the 1930s. Harry Balch might have been the driver.

The first thing you’ll notice is how high the snowbanks are. As the snow was piled high it would fall back into the road, creating a funnel shape. I remember snowbanks like this on Dodge Road and other locations.

When snowbanks were this high the wing plow was next to be used. On early snowplows the wing was raised and lowered by a winch. The wing plow operator would raise the plow high. As the truck drove along the wing plow pushed the snow away from the road, thereby reducing the height of the high bank.

One Saturday morning my father and I went rabbit hunting up in Shrewsbury. It was snowing when we left Chester, but we had a four wheel drive Scout, so we weren’t concerned. By the time we got to Mount Holly flats there was four to five inches of snow on the ground.

We hunted in Shrewsbury, all the while snow was coming down heavy. By the time we left a foot of snow had fallen. The only wheel tracks in the snow covered road were the ones we made going in. The snowbanks were high with the funnel effect. We were driving slowly when we came into a curve in the road. Low and behold a V-plow was coming straight at us. I can still see it through the heavy snow. It looked like a monster in the almost whiteout conditions.

We got out of the Scout, as did the plowman. After a brief conversation, the driver got back in the cab and put it in reverse. He backed up quite a distance before he found a place where we could get by.

In the 1960s not many people had four wheel drive vehicles. Everyone had a pair of tire chains in their trunk. I remember laying on my back beside the snowy road putting on tire chains. As recently as 15 years ago, Andy Ojanen, when returning home, up Adams Road, would have to put chains on to get home.

As Vermont roads were improved dump trucks became larger and more powerful. They could plow easier and the driver could control the plow and wing plow from inside the cab. More and more people now drove four wheel drive or all wheel drive vehicles.

One winter day Tom Petraska came to our house on High Street. We were 13 or 14 and going snowshoeing. We left my house and snowshoed through Rob Parker’s pasture to Dodge Road. Somewhere I have a photo of Tom standing in the road, dressed in his woolen reds, with his wooden snowshoes over his shoulder.

Tom was dwarfed by the high snowbanks. Dodge hill was a favorite place for us kids to go sliding. Once the road was sanded, that ended sliding until the next storm. We used to ski over at Rob Field’s large fields. I don’t remember who it was now but one kid went through barbwire.

We also went tobogganing at Rob Field’s. We would ski or toboggan all day. Make a run down the hills in his field and walk back up the hill to do it again. It was a real workout.

I remember Steve Waldo and Billy Parker sometimes went with us. Once we had a trail packed, flying saucers could be fun.

Snowstorms of 30 or 40 years ago were a lot heavier than today. It was colder then too. It wasn’t uncommon for the mercury to drop to 20 below zero or more. It could last a week. Many days it stayed below zero all day

This week’s old saying is from Timothy Leary: “Turn on, tune in, drop out.”

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