Editor’s note: The following was written by Robert Hills, Jr., reminiscing about the historic “Snow Bowl” football of 1950 he experienced with his late sister, Jayne. Their parents were Helen and Robert Hills Sr. of Carrollton. Mr. Hills Sr. was the longtime president of The Cummings Bank Company of Carrollton. Jayne Hills was a music teacher and is now deceased. Robert Hills Jr. was a corporate secretary of the Delaware Gas Company and later community relations manager with Columbia Gas of Ohio. He is retired and lives in Columbus.
I was driving:
On Friday, Nov. 24, 1950, my sister and I left together from Kent and Hartville, OH, respectively and drove to our family in Carrollton for the weekend with the intention of leaving the following day for the football game between Ohio State and Michigan at Ohio Stadium in Columbus.
It was snowing very hard and was close to a 5-degree temperature. High Street was very slushy from having been treated with cinders the night before. I was driving. It was very slippery and the automobile would slide back and forth and required careful driving. We ventured uphill on W. Main St. and proceeded on to State Route 39 with the intention of traveling west to Dellroy and Sherrodsville and on to New Philadelphia, through Coshocton, on to Newark and then to Columbus. The driving was slow and very demanding. It was snowing furiously. I tried not to show my concern. There was eight inches of snow on the ground.
We were at least an hour getting to Dellroy; about eight miles. We decided to venture on since Sherrodsville was “over the hill” and down hill into New Philadelphia. Four miles southwest of Dellroy (and four miles east of Sherrodsville) traveling southwest in just one set of tracks, we met a “box” truck that absolutely would not share the right of way. The van proceeded toward us taking up the only available tracks. He was traveling downhill while we were traveling uphill, trying to get up enough speed to get “over the hill.” We had nowhere else to go but off the road, sliding somewhat to the right on the berm. We were in such a position that it was impossible to get back in the tracks and neither coaxing or rocking allowed us to proceed further. It was now close to 10 o’clock and there was nearly 10 inches of snow on the ground.
We opted to venture a quarter mile southwest to a farmhouse. We plighted our dilemma to the owner and the farmer cordially offered to drive his farm tractor down and pull us back in the tracks. By this time, there was close to 12 inches of snow on the ground.
Our friend did a great job of hooking onto the Pontiac and maneuvering us back in the tracks. But by that time, we agreed we should be facing east and try to drive back home to Carrollton. The farmer would not even accept a stipend. We were disappointed that we were not going to see the ballgame, but elated to be going back home. There was now about 14 inches of snow on the ground.
We started up, and if you think getting where we were was bad, going back was just as bad if not worse. We were lucky that the single set of tracks were not occupied by any other venturing tourists or commercial vehicles. Nonetheless, driving was difficult. We made it through Dellroy (the four miles) by about noontime. None of the roadways had been cleared so we were still driving on just one set of tracks that were so deep the belly of the car was our snow plow. We were up to 16 inches of snow on the ground!
Dellroy to Carrollton was tedious and I was still driving. It took about another three hours to drive that stretch of eight miles but we didn’t meet any more traffic coming toward us. The whole trip - 13 miles over and 13 miles back – had taken us eight hours and a lot of panic-stricken moments, but we made it back at 3 p.m. safely in time to see part of the “white-out” game on our new television. There was now about 20 inches of snow on the ground.
The following morning we put a steel tape measure down in the snow near the garage. It registered 52 inches. This is still about the largest snowfall Carrollton (and Ohio) has ever experienced. But the following Tuesday, my sister and I were on our way back to our respective towns. We were lucky – no dents and no scratches – but many frightful memories. The worthless trip ended up Ohio State 2, Michigan 9! Oh how well I remember, I was driving.
Robert Hills, Jr.