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Sunday, November 10, 2013

"THE STORY OF HAZEL MINER"

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Greetings and Salutations to All my Kith and Kin and All the Ships in Outer Space:

I want EVERYONE in the WHOLE WIDE WORLD to know about this TRUE story of selfless heroism!

For the best effect, please be sure to enjoy watching, in "FULL SCREEN" mode, my homemade amateur video recording of ME (!), performing, "THE STORY OF HAZEL MINER", as I accompany myself by strumming simple chords on my Yamaha G-130A classical guitar.



Recorded on Sunday 07 February 2010 in Washington, D.C. at the Armed Forces Retirement Home.
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"THE STORY OF HAZEL MINER"

Written and Recorded by:
CHUCK SUCHY

Album: "DAKOTA BREEZES"

Wings on the snow,
A fate not chose,
Morning finds
A dove so froze,
Who too soon thought
The Spring arrived.
In warmth below,
Her love survived.

Up in Oliver County,
On the West Dakota plain,
Lived a farmer's daughter,
Hazel Miner was her name.
She was soon
To come in bloom,
A prairie rose in Spring.
She'd never see
The young girl dreams
Her sixteenth year would bring.

Hush a bye,
Don't you cry,
Cold is like a sorrow.
Sing a song,
It won't be long,
You'll be warm tomorrow.

A 1920 mid-March storm
Caused school to let out early,
So each child
Could reach their farm
Before the blizzard's fury.
Her brother, sister bundled tight,
Hazel hitched the sleigh.
But, in the night of blinding white,
She somehow lost her way.

For half a day,
They plodded on,
Then darkness, desperation,
Hazel put the young ones down,
Laid her body o'er them.
Through the night,
She gave them songs
And stories to sustain.
Near the dawn,
Her strength all gone,
The three by sleep were claimed.

Hush a bye,
Don't you cry,
Cold is like a sorrow.
Sing a song,
It won't be long,
We'll be warm tomorrow.

The next day, the searchers came
And found her horse still standing.
Its eyes and nose frozen closed,
No duty more demanding.
They lifted Hazel from the snow,
Only limp her hair.
With sadness, joy,
The girl and boy,
Alive beneath her there.

Hush a bye,
Don't you cry,
Cold is like a sorrow.
Sing a song,
It won't be long,
You'll be warm tomorrow.

Wings on the snow,
A fate not chose,
Morning finds
A dove so froze,
Who too soon thought
The Spring arrived,
In warmth below,
Her love survived.

Hush a bye,
Don't you cry,
Cold is like a sorrow.
Sing a song,
It won't be long,
You'll be warm tomorrow.

Hush a bye,
Don't you cry,
You'll be warm tomorrow.
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Born on Thursday 11 April 1904 in Sanger, Oliver County, North Dakota, HAZEL DULCIE MINER was the daughter of William Miner, a farmer, and his wife Blanche. "Kind of a quiet girl, she was", recalled the county registrar of deeds, whose daughter had played with Hazel. "Sort of motherly, for one so young." Her father considered her highly dependable. Her obituary described her as "quiet and loving", with a "sunny, cheerful nature" and having a liking for children. She was an eighth-grader at the one room school in Center, Oliver County, North Dakota, and had planned to start high school in Bismarck, North Dakota that fall.

On Monday 15 March 1920, the first day of the blizzard, the Miner children's one room school let out early to enable the students to reach their homes before the storm hit. Many of the country school students, like the Miner children, were used to driving back and forth to school with a horse and buggy, but the school teacher had a rule that no child was permitted to drive home in bad weather without permission from a parent. William Miner, who was worried about the blizzard conditions, rode the two miles to the school on a saddle horse to escort his children home. At about one o'clock he hitched their horse, "Old Maude", up to their light sleigh and told Hazel to wait while he went back to the school's barn to get his horse. Hazel wasn't strong enough to keep the horse from heading out into the blizzard before her father came back from the barn. William Miner searched for his children, but soon realized they must have gotten lost and went home to mount a search party. All throughout the countryside, farm families manned phone lines, summoning men to join a search party to look for the missing Miner children. Even though she was familiar with the road, Hazel quickly became disoriented by the blinding white snow that made it impossible to see more than a few feet in front of her. A warm coat, hat, gloves and sturdy, one buckle overshoes couldn't keep her hands and feet from becoming numb in the freezing temperatures. When the sled hit a coulee, Hazel slid from the sled into waist deep, mushy snow. She said, "Oh, my! I am wet clear to the waist and my shoes are full of water", her brother recalled later. The harness had slipped and she had to readjust it. Soaking wet, freezing, and exhausted, Hazel led the horse forward into the swirling white snow, only to discover she had lost sight of the road. There were few landmarks on the prairie to guide them.

The children continued on, growing more tired and cold. Then the sled again hit an obstruction and tipped over, throwing Hazel over the dashboard into the snow. Fifteen year old Hazel, ten year old Emmet, and eight year old Myrdith, tried to push the sled upright, but weren't strong enough, even with all three of them pushing. Using the overturned sled as a shelter, Hazel spread two blankets, told Emmet and Myrdith to lie down, and placed a third blanket atop them. The children tried to keep moving to stay warm. Hazel huddled beside her brother and sister, warming them with her body heat, and told them stories to keep them awake. They sang all four verses of "AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL", a song they had sung during opening exercises at the country school that morning, and said the Lord's Prayer. Hazel told her siblings again and again, "Remember, you mustn't go to sleep - - - even if I do. Promise me you won't, no matter how sleepy you get. Keep each other awake! Promise?" Her brother and sister promised. All night long the children could hear a dog barking, but no one came. As the night wore on, Hazel talked less and less, until she finally became silent.

Her brother Emmet later recalled the blizzard for an article in the Monday 15 March 1963 issue of the "BISMARCK TRIBUNE":

"The robe kept blowing down and Hazel kept pulling it up until she got so she couldn't put it up any more. Then she covered us up with the robe and lay down on top of it. I told Hazel to get under the covers too, but she said she had to keep us children warm, and she wouldn't do it ... I tried to get out to put the cover over Hazel, but I could not move because she was lying on the cover. The snow would get in around our feet, we couldn't move them, then Hazel would break the crust for us. After awhile she could not break the crust anymore, she just lay still and groaned. I thought she must be dead, then I kept talking to Myrdith so she wouldn't go to sleep."

A search party of more than thirty men looked desperately for the children throughout the afternoon and evening. They had to give up when it grew dark, but set out again the next morning. When they finally found the children it was two o'clock on Tueasday 16 March 1920, twenty-five hours since the children had first set out from the school house. The overturned sled, with the horse still hitched up to it, was resting in a coulee two miles south of the school. "With breathless haste we hurried to the rig and will never forget the sight that met our eyes", said one of the men. The searchers found the rigid Hazel lying over her siblings, covering them with her body. Her coat, which she had unbuttoned, was spread over the bodies of the two younger children and her arms were stretched out over them. Beneath her, still alive, were Emmet and Myrdith. "Maude", the gentle horse, was standing patiently beside the overturned sled, also still alive. If the horse had moved, the three children would have been tipped into the snow.

They took the three children to the home of William Starck, a neighbor, and cared for them "tenderly". Starck's daughter, Anna Starck Benjamin, who was four and a half at the time, remembered, "the sound of Hazel's outstretched arms as they brushed against the furniture as they brought her into the house, and took her into my parents' bedroom. The crackling sound as that of frozen laundry brought in off the clothes line in winter. Then I remember the crying, so much crying." They worked over Hazel for hours, trying to revive her, but there was no hope. Hazel's mother, Blanche, was brought to the Starck house when they found the children and sat in a chair, rocking and rocking, while they tended to the three children. Throughout the long night when the children were missing, she had been kept company by neighbors. At one point she drifted off, and said later that her daughter had come to her in a dream. In the dream, Hazel said, "I was cold, Mama, but I'm not anymore."

At Hazel's funeral, the minister preached a sermon from JOHN 15:13, "Greater love hath no man that he lay down his life for his friend", and said, "Here and there are occasionally people who by their acts and lives endeavor to imitate Him."

Hazel was one of thirty-four people who died during the blizzard, which lasted three days.

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Thank you.

1800 Beach Drive, Unit 311 
Gulfport, Mississippi  39507

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