Sunday, August 28, 2011

Hurricanes Past and Present: It's Time to Go Home

 Yesterday we spent time removing potential projectiles from our yard, selling a car to make room for the rental in the garage, and doing our best to prepare for Hurricane Irene. I talked to our daughter in New Jersey and she said they'd bought a generator, a chain saw and a bunch of supplies.

As I crawled into bed my husband said, "I've told you the story of my dad and the 1938 hurricane, haven't I?"

Main St. Woods Hole, Ma. 1938

He is so much like his dad! I was sure I'd heard it before. He repeats the stories every time his memory is triggered by something.

 So I said, "Yes, you have." thinking I could throw the switch and send the train down a different track. But, I knew that he'd tell me again anyways no matter what I said.

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So I listened.

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My father-in-law, Marsh I called him, was 12-yrs.-old and was out doing his paper route. He was coming down the hill from The Nobska Lighthouse when he saw beach houses (they weren't on stilts like they are now) floating over the street from the beach to the pond.

"He decided it was time to go home!" my husband said. Good decision! I'd never heard that part of Marsh's story. I'm glad I listened.

 It got me thinking.

Back in 1938 there were no hurricane warnings. They weren't given public names until 1953. If a storm progressed enough to make you nervous you went home and did the best you could with what you had until it passed.

All but 2 of my nine children have had a paper route. Some started as young as 5-yrs.-old. I took time for me to get used to them making the mile-long circuitous route back home. I'd always go with the younger ones. They had no cellphone, so I was always on edge waiting for them to come home.

Irene is beginning to show her face here in Hudson, New Hampshire this morning. The 4am. paper delivery guy drove by and threw the paper out the car window onto the neighbor's driveway. The power may go out. Church was cancelled last night. We're staying put.

The kids have talked to their friends on the Cape. Towns are shutting down for the day they announced yesterday.

The last I heard there were 6 deaths blamed on Irene. Compare that to the 600 deaths for the 1938 hurricane.

I find it interesting that some things change, and some things never change. When the storms of life threaten, whether or not we've been warned, we all  think about what matters most and think about keeping our loved ones safe and comfortable.

For me that's what family history is all about; gathering in those I am related to and responsible for, making sure they are "home" with me, and that they know they are loved and needed.

Marsh died 4 years ago. I wonder what he's thinking. He's probably saying to all of his buddies," Bunch of wusses! '38! Now THAT was a hurricane!"

So, my message for today, Sunday, August 28, 2011, three weeks shy of the 1938 hurricane's 74th anniversary is,

I'ts time to go home.

I'ts time to remember.

Are we including the most important things in our preparations?


  1. I love this! And I love the story about Marsh!

  2. Hey Joanna! You would have loved him. I can still hear his stories and his giggles!

  3. Very enjoyable and profound post Betsy - so up my alley - love it! It is definitely something to think about ... when things happen out of our control and what we think about first. It's not our bank accounts or job, but our loved ones and their well-being and safety. Life, when you really reflect, is quite simple and our need both of heart and body and simple too. Thank you for starting my day off so nicely!

    Much kindness,


  4. Hi Elena!
    Sometimes the day provides the story! At least this time it did. Thanks for enjoying it. Our internet service just came back. We were a lot luckier than a lot of people or the people 0f '38!

  5. Hey Betsy,
    Did you get hit hard over there? I was offline for most of the day - had power but no Internet. I went to my Dad's in town to get online and put an alert on LFI and saw 2 turkeys by the side of the road (I didn't know our neighbors had turkeys!) and a fire hydrant spilling water onto the road. The wind was HOWLING - it was surreal. There was no real damage, though, thank goodness, except for the corn that was knocked over and our grapevine which lost it's tenuous hold on our window frame. All is calm now -that's nice!
    I like your way of tying today's hurricane with the history you so eloquently bring to life for us! :-)

  6. Turkeys! They make me laugh. Had a few experiences with wild ones. I'd love a pic. of your house. Corn and grapevines. Sounds interesting! We didn't lose power, but our neighborhood did. Everyone had generators. We had no phone, tv., or internet for the day. But it was Sunday and all I could think about was telling you on your blog how I wanted to keep things quiet (internet) on Sundays. The weather did it for me!

  7. That's hilarious Betsy! The storm did something for me as well. I had intended to begin the introduction of my book on LFI yesterday with a blog post but a week ago I decided to put that off for one week. I realized yesterday that, even if I had not decided to put it off, the storm would have made that decision for me since I had no Internet. How bizarre is that!
    Most people in the country have generators. We haven't moved in that direction because we have a wood stove so we're OK. Plus I have a laptop with battery power - no Internet, but I can still write with it ;-)


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