Some blizzard morning reading about blizzard kits in the days before cell phones and our newfound false sense of security.

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch

By Liz Taylor

February 27, 1980

Mouse River Farmers Press


                One thing about this business, you get interesting mail. I received a letter one recent day addressed to: “The Nice Lady Who Writes About Survival Kits, etc., Towner, North Dakota.” Apparently I’m the only lady (nice or otherwise) in Towner who writes about survival kits because the letter and booklet ended up in my mailbox!

                It was from a gentleman from Winnipeg, Manitoba, who was apparently visiting the Rugby area when someone related to him what I had written about a Minot TV weatherman’s survival kit advertisement promoting something called a “Blizzard Beater.”

I had written what I thought was a light-hearted criticism of the ad, saying in part that you could make up the same kit (advertised for $14.95) for $5 and have a party on the change. I stand by this statement, but you’ll have to spend a little more if you want adequate protection from the cold if you’re in a stalled auto on any of our northern roads in winter for any length of time.

                The Canadian who wrote to me was Ken Kennedy of Winnipeg and he told of his ordeal while stranded in a car in January, 1978, from Tuesday evening until Tuesday noon in the Morris, Manitoba, area. Temperatures dropped to twenty two degrees below zero, and winds gusted as high as 50 miles per hour.

                As he said in his letter accompanying the brochure he had written, called “Survival or Death,” a car is nothing but a windbreak when the motor stops. His motor had become wet sometime during his experience and as a result he had to keep warm enough to survive with equipment he had with him, and he had far more than most people carry.

                Since that time he has been experimenting to determine just what should be carried in the car to survive a lengthy stay if stranded because of a sudden storm. The booklet he wrote was most interesting and I recommend it to any northern traveler, whether you’re planning  to be on the road for just a short journey or if traveling is your business.

                It is about 35 pages long and tells you all “you ever wanted to know about this type of survival” but thought you knew. After reading it, I put some more “stuff” in our car and then decided never to go any distance from home without a written and notarized guarantee from the weatherman that the weather would be excellent when I started my journey and even better when I planned to return!

                Because of his job as a salesman, Mr. Kennedy does a lot of traveling and consequently has experimented with more than one survival kit. He is trying to have high standards adopted for such kits, and legal penalties for those which produce a false sense of security for the traveler. I know of very few people who are truly prepared to spend much time in a stalled car in the bitter cold.

For example, Mr. Kennedy burned 31 candles in 35 hours (candles designed to last 6 hours each, but more than one was needed at a time to produce any worthwhile heat). He also burned several advertisements, three newspapers, two telephone books, and about 900 matches. The large number of matches was required because he only burned one small, folded piece of paper at a time to make it last and produce less smoke in the car. In spite of this he suffered great pain from leg cramps and cold because of restrained body movement.

Do you have more than 30 candles, 1,000 matches, newspapers or telephone books in your car? So what, you may ask, you have a snowmobile suit and a blanket in the trunk…and if you have your family with you, who is going to get the blanket, who is going to get the snowmobile suit…and who will die first?

As I said, a most enlightening booklet written by “someone who’s been there” and back.

By the way, he sent me one of the brochures and you may obtain a copy by sending $2 to: Mr. Ken Kennedy, 362 Melbourne, Winnipeg, Manitoba R2K 1A9.

He originally printed the booklets to give his customers and then printed some more because of the interest expressed by others. Anyone who knows anything about printing costs will realize that he didn’t do it to make money, nor does he sell a survival kit. However, he does tell you what he has learned about them and what he feels is necessary.

I said I did a lot of reading, and would read almost anything, and this habit has apparently been inherited by my children. The other day at the breakfast table Ryan was reading a cereal box, aloud, and this is what I heard: “Which has more sugar, an apple or a bowl of “Lucky Charms”? An apple!”

The ad on the box went on to say that Mother Nature sweetens apples for two good reasons, to make them taste good and to make them a source of energy, and that’s why she puts 15 grams of sugar in an apple. And a bowl of Lucky Charms cereal only contains 11 grams of sugar.

There was more but I don’t want to give General Mills any more free advertising. Since I am always skeptical of commercials I am sending the side of the box with that claim to the Consumer Protection Agency in Washington, D.C., or maybe to Ralph Nader, and ask that they investigate the claims and send me a copy of what they find out.

Of course, it’s hard telling what they will do about it, being located in Washington, D.C. This is the city where they decided to give us the Susan B. Anthony dollar to save us money! According to the press release this dollar coin would save the Mint $50 million per year in the future. WHEN in the future?

They have temporarily discontinued production after 785 million coins, with 285 million in circulation (I’ll bet they’re all in banks), and 500 million in inventory. This dollar coin was the latest and greatest mistake our government has made since the “non-war” in Vietnam.

It’s too bad they didn’t just ask folks on the street whether or not they would like to have a dollar the size of a quarter a couple of years ago and they could have really saved us money! Most folks feel that a standard sized dollar coin would have been readily accepted.

If you were looking for humor and hilarity in this column this week, “the laugh’s on you!”

Next week, “A weekend in Fargo-Moorhead, or, ‘you can’t get there from here’.”





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