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Wednesday, July 10, 2013


It has been a damp couple weeks here in Ohio.  I saw something in the newspaper about a 15 day rainy streak. While initially thinking the article was about any of Cleveland’s sports teams, I soon realized this was about something that truly matters.
Rain and lots of it. Flood and flash-flood warning worth of rain. The Chagrin nearing her banks, and moving at high speed kind of rain.
As I was staring out the patio windows and musing, my thoughts drifted back to other memorable rain falls. Admittedly, there are not so many noteworthy rains as there are snow-storms. I have yet had any of the grandkids say “Papa, tell us about the time of the big rain.” Nor do people generally mark rain-storms as a point of time reference, such as “Mildred, I am telling you, we got that DeSoto the summer of the big rain.” Typically, rains are not that memorable.
Unlike snowstorms, one can hardly talk about having to put the Jeep in four-wheel drive and take 25 minutes to drive 4 miles to get a gallon of milk.  One can’t talk about having hip-high piles of water, and sledding, and coming in for hot chocolate to warm up. There is a certain amount of panache and élan to a good snow storm.  A big rain storm, not so much. The stories that typically arise from rains are not so fun. It is difficult to add an air of romance and jovialness while telling about having lost family heirlooms, the furnishings being totally destroyed, and the truck totaled due to water damage.
Still….there have been those times…..
As you may recall, in the account entitled “Water”, my early experiences with rain swollen streams were explored. This was the first rain related event I remember. Had I not nearly drowned, it probably would have just been a typical spring, barely worth mentioning. Near-death experiences can do that to a person’s memory.
Then, I recall the 4th of July in 1969. A typical summer’s day, picnics, family get-togethers, and then a terrific storm roared in just about the time to see fireworks. There were trees up-rooted, utility poles toppled, and streets running deep with water. We were at my Aunt and Uncle’s in Walton Hills, about 20 miles south of our home.  I was 16 and deeply concerned how we would get home. Dad looked at the destruction and water, saw his sister’s home was safe, and then decided it was time to head home. When I expressed my slight concern, he replied with his trademark response: “This is nothing. I drove a tank during the war. Let’s go.” And we did, arriving home about 90 minutes later. That was a good storm.
There was the rain storm my sophomore year of college. It rained, and rained. Little Riley Creek, which bisected the campus, was overflowing its banks. The bridges which allowed access from the women’s dorms to the men’s dorms, class buildings, student center, dining hall, and library were covered with water.  It also prevented access to town for the guys. We were marooned, separated from all civilization save the gym, student union, dining hall, library, tennis courts, and flag football field.
The entire lot of the male populace of Bluffton College nearly went mad. We couldn’t go to Stony’s for cold draft beers, grilled bologna and Swiss cheese sandwiches, gentlemanly games of pool and euchre. We couldn’t go to Ingall’s Restaurant for juicy burgers smothered in secret sauce, wonderful coffee, and (unique to the Lima-Bluffton-Findlay Ohio area)…. that delectable, addictive wonder: Sugar Cream Pie.   It was horrible. It is still very difficult to talk about, all these years later.
There have been other storms, most falling into the soon forgotten category. Except, several years ago, our town experienced a Five Hundred Year storm. Homes that had never even been damp in the past were flooded. Streets were underwater for days; electricity was lost. In general, it was not a fun time. We were very fortunate, living high on a bluff we are far above the rise of the river. I have often told people if we get flooded, EVERY one has major problems.
What struck me was the designation “Five Hundred Year” storm. I can understand referring to something as a Fifty Year Storm and even a One Hundred Year storm. There are official weather records going back well past a hundred years. Let’s face it, (no Jim, you face it) I can recall events of half a century ago quite well.
But Five Hundred Years? Good grief! That is only 21 years after Columbus stumbled upon the Caribbean Islands on his way to the Indian sub-continent. Who on Earth is going to remember what the big storms were then? And, even if there were anyone who could remember… they would be about a gazillion years old. Their memory banks would be the consistency of oatmeal. And… what if there were no 500 year storms, because the last 500 year storm was 10 years before they were born? Whoa.. .that is heavy.
It was explained that based upon computer models of past rainfalls, wind patterns, the mean batting average of all the Designated Hitters in the American League in odd numbered years, multiplied by 3.56, then divided by the number of fries in a fast food carry out meal, the frequency of large storms is determined. They lost me at the word “computer”.  Dealing with a computer at work, at home, in my pocket, to make a phone call (wouldn’t “computer call” be a better word?), my Jeep, just about every facet of my life; their scholarly discourse lost all credibility with me. I would have believed them if they said it is based upon how much Rollie, the TV station custodian, says his knees ache. THAT, dear reader, makes sense.
I listen to the rain falling upon the window. My Lovely Bride has just come home with building plans rolled up under her arm. Does anyone know just what a “cubit” is???  If so, let me know, okay? I gotta get busy here.

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