Last Thursday we kicked off a series of prompts to get us documenting our own personal histories with a look back at our bedrooms growing up. In it, I shared the story of my family hanging out in the crawl space during tornado watches and warnings. It prompted me to think about some of the memorable weather events I’ve experienced.
Growing up in the Midwest, fierce weather is a fact of life, and you learned to keep an eye on the skies. Tornadoes were a scary possibility growing up, but we were fortunate there. Of course about six years ago, I did send my husband out into the path of one. Maddy was at a martial arts class and it was time to pick her up. Skies were darkening, so I urged my husband to hurry to go pick her up. As he pulled out of the driveway, the weatherman estimated the storm’s time of arrival in the next town at just about the time my husband would reach it. He had a very scary drive, but fortunately made it with just some minor damage to the car where flying tree branches hit it. Funny, he doesn’t let me forget that.
The earliest memory of wild weather I have is a winter storm—the Blizzard of 1967. I can still remember looking up to the huge piles of snow on either side of our driveway, as my dad worked to clear the roughly two feet of snow. I can remember being in awe of my dad as he created the huge mountains of snow that completely dwarfed me at five years old. Our side door was completely covered by a drift and it took several days to get that side of the house dug out.
There were also floods on that street every so often, and the back part of our yard would also become a marsh. When it would be really muddy, my sister Diana and I would take our Collie/Shepherd mix, Beau, out to the backyard on two leashes in an effort to keep him from the muddy parts.
We were no match. I remember one time we had him out there and he took off running around the yard, turned a corner around the swing set and lost Diana there. I held on for a short time more while he dragged me around, but finally gave up. Fortunately he responded to one thing–cookies. When he’d get out of the yard, you’d see the parade of four little blonde girls chasing after him yelling, “Cookies, Beau, cookies!”
Another storm I remember were a dust storm when we were visiting family in El Paso, Texas. We stayed in a cottage behind Grandpa Pyburn’s house and that’s where I was the first time I ever experienced one. We were all very excited at the prospect of this unique (to us, anyway) weather phenomena. The cottage didn’t exactly have a weatherproof seal and quite a bit of the sand and dirt made it in while we slept. When we woke in the morning with dirt in our mouths, the novelty quickly wore off.
Your #TBT Prompt
So this week’s #TBT family history prompt is what type of weather events have you been through—minor and major? Think snow, rain, hail, drought, fires, floods, or even “just” a thunderstorm with a good story. Recount seasons that were memorable as well. Summers with droughts and heat waves are worth committing to paper, too. Folks in the much of the U.S. will long remember this winter for its persistent cold and snow. I know I will.
Prompt your writing with questions. Where were you when the storm struck? Who was with you? How did the storm impact your family? What was your reaction to them? In terms of severe events, how did the community respond? How did you bide the time waiting the storm out? Did you have pets or other animals that needed to be cared for?
About Juliana Smith
Juliana Szucs Smith has been working for Ancestry.com for more than 16 years. She began her family history journey trolling through microfilms with her mother at the age of 11. She has written many articles for online and print genealogical publications and wrote the "Computers and Technology" chapter of The Source: A Guidebook of American Genealogy. Juliana holds a certificate from Boston University's Online Genealogical Research Program, and is currently on the clock working towards certification from the Board for Certification of Genealogists.