Monday, September 12, 2011

On Anniversaries (and Debates Next Time)

Yesterday was the tenth anniversary of 911 for America, but it was also the 50th anniversary of Hurricane Carla for my local area as well. We spent the entire weekend commemorating both.

Our town had a 911 memorial gathering at our central park on Saturday. It was a first time thing, and while many showed up, the mood was somber among everyone, understandably. There was a military program including a salute of guns and canon, and a choir and orchestra, but we spent our time with friends we saw there, reminiscing the where were you on 911 stories.

I have to say, I don't like fully recalling my memories of that morning...that afternoon...that week...that month. I did give in and watch a documentary or two, and it took me right back to my mixture of intense horror and sympathy for those in close proximity, my feelings of helplessness, my strong fear that the ship channel I live near would be hit next...the anthrax mailings...just the utter chaos that a hole ripping open your collective chest might cause. So, I think that seeking out friends and hunkering down was about all I could do.

Yesterday afternoon we went to a bbq given by a group of folks who lived in a subdivision on one of the bays that Carla battered and flooded. My parents helped them do clean up, as did dozens and dozens of others, and every ten years a bbq has been thrown and everyone invited to gather again. We've missed the last couple so it was fun to go to this one.

I was 5 when Carla struck and yet I remember it like I can recall every second even though I know that is impossible. It was most likely the first time I'd ever paid sustained attention to anything. My dad moved my mattress out to the den floor where the tv was and it's scratchy test pattern kept me company as Carla struck in the dead of night. I lost power long before the electricity gave out, so to me we never lost it. I awoke the next morning as the eye was passing over and again, I recall it vividly. Kids were outside playing in the waist-deep water in the streets (our yards were like on little hills, so the water only came up halfway into the yards), and I remember I was quite mad at my parents as I was the only kid not allowed to do that. I had to watch all my friends have a blast.

I recently read up on Carla, and discovered it was quite a huge and damaging storm. It's funny how a kid remembers things. It was spooky, not scary. It was my parents' first big hurricane as well as mine, since we moved from Arkansas in 1959. There had been one tiny one that year, and people tend to think the first one they survive is how they all are, so my parents were in shock at Carla's fury. But they managed to shield all that from me. I also remember the day or two after being very hot, sweaty, humid and uncomfortable. We must not have gotten power restored for a few days. I asked my dad, but he can no longer remember for sure.

One of the other main memories our family has of Carla was retold at the bbq. My mom had been cleaning out someone's closet and came face to face with a water mocassin. Literally face to face. She managed to bat it with her broom and it retreated into the caked piles of mud. Understandably, that was the end of her work that day!

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