HURRICANE June 28, 2024

 Dear Diary,                                                                                

October 14, 1954

This is what happened yesterday when we got out of school at lunch time. Leslie and I took the bus to Grandmom’s house instead of going home. I wanted to go home to my dog Heidi, but Leslie said we’d get into big trouble with Daddy.

It was windy and raining hard. Grandmom kept asking us, “Would you please get away from the windows!”

Her voice sounded scared. We disobeyed her, but it wasn’t like it was on purpose. It’s just that there was a movie playing outside the windows, just like The Wizard of Oz at the drive-in. All kinds of things were flying, things that usually don’t. No

Witches though! 

Suddenly, Fido’s doghouse went rolling down the driveway. “Poor Fido,” I said to her. The big red dog was leaning against my leg. Her tail was tucked between her legs, and she was panting like it was a hot summer day.  I guess she was scared, too.

Then the electricity went out. There was a popping noise in the basement, just like when a fuse blows, which happens a lot at Grandmom’s house.

Anyway, it was early, but with the rain and the wind, it suddenly got much darker, like it was bedtime. 

Just then all four geranium pots, Grandmom’s favorites, flew off the porch and onto the lawn. “Shall I go out and get them, Grandmom?” Leslie asked, heading for the door.

“Oh, no you don’t!” Grandmom grabbed his arm. She grabbed mine, too. “Off you go to the kitchen until your father arrives! Can’t imagine why that man is coming out in a hurricane when you are perfectly safe here.”

She was making matzoh ball soup. She always said, “Matzoh ball soup is the Jewish cure for everything!” Even hurricanes, I guess. I didn’t mind. It was my favorite. Diary, did you know she plucks the chickens herself?


Just then the kitchen door flew open and the glass in the top shattered. Grandpop blew in with the door, too, almost falling over.

 He’d been bringing in the cows and making everything safe for the animals in the barn. 

He had a great big cut on his head, and he said, “I didn’t even see it coming!” It was the big wooden lid from the pickled tomato crock that got him.

Grandmom pushed the door closed and then we all helped shove the hutch up against it.

Leslie was acting all brave, but I was crying by then. Grandpop was bleeding like a spigot.

He sat down hard on the chair. Grandmom held the skirt of her apron-like-a-dress to his forehead to stop the bleeding and told me to grab some towels. 

I got busy then. I got the towels, and I knew just where she kept the bandages and mercurochrome under the sink. In no time, Grandpop was bandaged all around his head, like an Indian with a featherless headdress. Grandmom said he needed stitches.

 “Don’t be silly, woman.” He was the bravest grandpop anyone ever had.

But my daddy was even braver because he came to our rescue, even though the hurricane was getting worse faster .

We were eating soup, but we couldn’t stay to finish. The wind sounded like a monster trying to get in through the doors and windows. I think he was in the attic, too, and banging the shutters.

Well, I’m too big to believe in monsters anymore, my parents say. But sometimes …. I look under the bed before climbing in …  just in case.

We put on our jackets, and then Daddy did a very strange thing. He tied a rope around his middle and then he tied the other end around Leslie’s middle. That’s how they went out to the car.

Even though my brother is a year older than me and much heavier, he couldn’t keep his feet on the ground. I thought he was going to fly, but Daddy had a tight hold of the rope.

Then he came back. The wind was making him lean way over and his hair was standing straight up.

He tied the rope around me while Grandpop said something about folly, but I didn’t know that word.

This time, I lifted right off, just like the cars that spin way out on the ride at Lakeside Park. It was kind of fun. My pigtails went flying, too. But Daddy never let go. He’s very strong, like the Atlas man who holds up the Earth! 


Story notes:

In 1954, when I was nine, Hurricane Hazel struck South Carolina with Category 4 winds and traveled up the coast all the way to Canada. To that date, it was the worst hurricane to hit the East Coast of the United States in that century. My father says when the full force of the storm hit Royersford (PA), the winds were in the range of 100 miles an hour.


The story I j just wrote is completely true, and at the time, I did write about it in my diary, which I always kept hidden from my family. I really don’t know what became of that little pink journal with its tiny lock and Tinker Bell on the front! 

I’m almost 80 now, but I’d like to read that diary. Yes, I really would.

I’m listening! 

watercolors by Elaine Troisi’s

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