Pat Shingleton: "The Day the Music Died and... Suet"
Roger Peterson, an experienced pilot, did not have an instrument rating when he piloted a plane on the fateful night of February 3, 1959. As noted in a previous column, weather conditions at Mason City, Iowa included: overcast skies, 6,000 foot ceiling, 15 mile visibility, temperature of 16 degrees, south winds at 25 knots - gusts to 32. At 12:40 a.m., with light snow, falling, an advisory from Kansas City warned of “moderate to locally heavy icing below 10,000 feet over most of Iowa.” At 1:00 a.m. the single engine Beechcraft Bonanza was airborne, climbing 800 feet and crashing into a field 5 miles north of Mason City. Wreckage was scattered over 540 feet. The crash killed musicians Buddy Holly, “The Big Bopper”- J.P. Richardson and Richie Valens. In closing, Yorkshire pudding is made with eggs, flour and milk. This batter is whipped or blended and placed on greased pans that many years ago were lined with suet. Suet is beef or mutton fat that collects around the loins and kidneys. My Dad was a butcher and in early January Mom would request portions of suet for birds when the temperatures plummeted. Due to its high energy content, suet was also used by cold weather explorers to supplement high daily energy requirements needed in extreme cold. Often suet was added to food rations to assist dog-sled traveling. When my grandfather laced the suet to a Maple tree, woodpeckers, cardinals, wrens and starlings invaded the mesh. Neighborhood dogs enjoyed it too if winter storm winds blew it from the tree.