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Letter: Storm safety in bygone days

Published: Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013 5:30 a.m. CST

The recent power outage in our area during a maintenance operation when a fiber optic cable was cut brought back memories of my childhood in the 1930s.       

Whenever a thunderstorm approached, it was not uncommon for us to experience a power outage. Not a problem. We had no radio, TV or computers. We relied on my father’s knowledge of storms.

Growing up on a farm in northern Iowa, he learned to discern what was imminent without the benefit of television with its weather maps, isobars, isotherms, high and low pressures, etc.

As ominous storm clouds approached, he’d shepherd us downstairs where he had constructed a fortified area (a small square cubicle in the northwest corner of the basement).

It was just large enough for the six of us to huddle while the storm raged above. Benches attached to the walls allowed us to sit with our knees touching. He remained outside the little hut with a lighted kerosene lantern. 

From time to time he’d go up to watch the storm unfold. His great fear was that one of the four huge cottonwood trees next to our home could be hit by lightning and come crashing down on the roof of our house. Fortunately, it never happened. 

It was cozy down there, and Mom would usually grab some cookies or some treat to calm our nerves as we waited out the storm.

Being young children, I’m not sure we were totally aware of the danger we faced. It was more of a lark to us.

When the storm passed and our father gave us the all-clear signal, we again retuned upstairs with a mixture of disappointment and joy. 

If a tornado had actually occurred, don’t know how safe we actually would have been. I do know that I have never felt safer than I did back then, surrounded by my family, in that little hut in our basement.

Another fond memory with no air conditioning was taking blankets and pillows and sleeping on the lawn on hot nights.

Modern technology is wonderful, but in my senior years, I look back with fondness at our innocence and remember how it used to be when only our father told us of the impending weather dangers and took the necessary precautions.

Mil Misic

DeKalb

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