Baby boomer echoes

by Teresa Zaverl

It’s that time of year… spring storms and more stuff coming through the summer months. May has proven to show us some lightning and thunder, power outs and at times an early alarm clock while practicing the art of slumber. <BR><BR>I think most Boomer kids will agree that so called storms today don’t live up to the ones we remember as kids. I will make exception with the ’99 blowdown and the time the tornado siren kept sounding due to funnel clouds passing through the Burntside area. <BR><BR>Back in the ’50s and ’60s we had predictable weather. May was usually cold with plenty of frost and sometimes snow. Then you’d suddenly get an 80-degree day to start up the dandelions.<BR><BR>June usually was a good month to build an ark like Noah. It was common to expect rain for 40 days and nights. <BR><BR>We knew what June showers produced. They benefited the growth of garden lettuce, made the blueberry bushes strong and filled up swamps and ditches creating breeding grounds for a healthy mosquito crop. Once in a while a thunderstorm broke out but most moisture falling from the sky came in the garden-variety form. <BR><BR>Tornadoes are supposed to be rare experiences up here, but there have been a few. Some readers may remember a twister striking town during a summer in the early ’30s. I’ve heard my parents’ renditions of that one. I guess everyone remembers what they were doing at that point. My mom was at Semer’s beach then suddenly shifted into Grandpa’s old truck for protection. It created a shaky haven, meaning the truck was boinging around.<BR><BR>Later people realized it really was a twister, with reports of blown out store windows in the downtown area. Tons of trees knocked down too. There were no sirens or beeping weather channels to get you prepared.<BR><BR>My Dad told me his rendition of this famous day in Ely. He and his father were working the garden at the “farm.” The sky started looking bad and Grandpa figured it was time to quit tilling and head for the tool shack. The tool shack was hand made, held up by stilt boards. They took time out to light up a Camel and then it hit, causing the structure to rock and roll. <BR><BR>Other Boomers and I may remember a tornado that struck the outskirts of Ely in 1969. You could take a car ride around and see its twisting swath that wound its way through much of the woods. It didn’t hit town but anyone with property in tornado zone suffered damage.<BR><BR>I remember frequent hailstorms complete with thunder and lightning. Those storms pitched pelting hail with zero visibility. There was one during the early ’60s (without warning) that didn’t give you much time to flee for shelter. <BR><BR>I was caught between Bernie’s Market and home - a total of one block. It was a hot, humid day, and Ma sent me with a gal pal in tow on a grocery errand. And of course, we could purchase a cool treat with the change. I think we just unwrapped our Popsicles and all hell broke loose. The hail came down in pounding sheets with gusts of wind enough to knock a seven-year-old into the next county. My mother got so worried she called my father at work to look for us. What he guided home were two drenched rats with soggy Popsicles. <BR><BR>You’ve got to admit there’s something intriguing to most of us in regards to anticipating a storm of any kind. It must be part of human nature and/or internal flight and fright mode. <BR><BR>Sitting outdoors watching the sky darken and witnessing the calm before the storm along with distant rumbles brings on some ancient emotion.<BR><BR>I’ll never forget, as a kid, my older neighbor. He used to sit on his back yard bench watching the sky, anticipating the storm to come. As the sky darkened and the distant rumbles of thunder approached, he philosophically turned his head in your direction to claim: “The angels are bowling” or “God is angry.”<BR><BR>And when the storm finally hit we ran into the house for a seat on the porch to watch whatever came. We learned how to count the seconds between lightning strikes and the roar of thunder. We watched the rain flood down the gutters and hoped no one on the low ends were flooded out. That got you thinking about checking the basement.<BR><BR>If there’s anything soothing to say about storms it’s got to be the peaceful feeling one receives tucked in bed listening to rain on the roof. But if lightning turns the room blue and crashing sounds develop, you can count on the theory of Boogie Men and Angry Gods.<BR><BR>We heard the stories of people raised in the Old Country who worked the fields and had genuine fear of what Mother Nature could produce. That’s where praying the rosary and hiding under the bed came from.<BR><BR>I believe most of us are still intrigued by weather. Now we have weather radios, the Weather Channel and a host of TV meteorologists for guidance. But, you know, the funny thing is often there’s a lot of hype and no action. Maybe it was better to heed the old timer’s warnings of aching bones and changes of nature. Then we were fairly well assured that “something was coming.”