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Thursday, March 1, 2007

Spring had Sprung!




When Mildred and I lived in the same town we saw each other at church and during occasional lunches, but usually just chatted on the phone. She cleaned a few houses for extra money and would usually like to chat during dusting. Mildred can flat clean a house! The one house that she cleaned was the Burtram's, whom we called Butram's. The lady of the house always had these incredibly annoying phone greeting on their answering machines. The one which grated my nerves the most was her shrill voice barking out in a pseudo-chipper southern drawl way, "Spring has Sprung." OHHH that annoyed me. To this day I still can't say that without thinking of her. Mildred must tell you about the topless conversation she had with Mrs. Butram. Mrs. Butram was of course topless and Mildred was just drop-jawed awkward. Talk about burning an image into your brain!


Spring is not my most favorite time of year. I do love seeing nature wake up and show off. I love the brown winter grass giving way to their new brothers of the lawn. Something beautiful about the brown grass peppered with the new bright green grass popping up. Trees budding, butterflies and bees buzzing around. Spring is awesome, but it is also treacherous. The Midwest means Tornadoes! I hate tornadoes and any bad storm period. I have always hated them and don't think I will ever stop hating them.


Spring storms are sneaky Pete's, they come at night like the angel of death. Why they don't just show them selves in broad daylight I will not know. Mean, ominous, black clouds building up their forces to wreak havoc on mother earth. I do not like when nature throws a temper tantrum. As a boy I could remember lying in my bed frozen with fear. I usually slept fully clothed with my shoes in the exact position where my feet hit the floor, especially when it was stormy. The thunder and lightning, rain and wind blowing and screaming into the night. I diverted all of my senses to my hearing grasping for the faintest sound of a tornado siren. During good weather nights I would have drills where I practiced evacuation to the bathroom. I would not be caught off guard.


When I was five our city experienced a horrible night of tornadoes. Lee George was our most trusted weather man. He was a tall thin man who wore very loud plaid 70's sport coats with very wide ties. His outfits never really coordinated with one another, but somehow rudely complimented them in a way that only he could pull off. Lee was throat clearer, and cleared his throat a lot. When he gave his forecast he would rock back and forth choreographing the weather map. During storm nights he seemed to be very tense and would usually give off panicked, "Take Shelter NOW!" Antsy weathermen just should not be allowed to exist.


This particular night the tornado had touched down about five miles away from the pink house. Dad stood guard on the front porch, Mom, Lucy, and I were in Mom and Dad's room behind a chair with a mattress over us. We sang Jesus Loves Me about fifty times all huddled up in a big ball of fear. The wind was howling and screaming, no trains, just a vicious bellowing eruption of nature mad at the world and out to right the wrongs of mankind. This tornado destroyed two mobile home parks, a hotel, an apartment complex and several other areas in town. It was the most devastating tornado in our history (1975) and none worse have come our way.


The other tornado experience I had was when I was in High School. I was in 7th hour Home Economics (that's a blog in and of itself) and we were about to be dismissed for the day. The sky was licorice colored with a faint green vale over the thick, churning, black clouds. I was pacing back and forth like a nervous cat--I had a bad feeling. Our school had converted over to tones and not bells. There all of these tones sounded for several things and then the secretary or principal would come over the speaker to tell us what that tone meant. I was watching the clock, 3:12, two minutes to go when, "Blew, Blew, Blahh---Attention students and faculty this is not a drill take shelter immediately a tornado is approaching. Take shelter this is not a drill" My heart sank the words, "this is not a drill" don't really bring out the best in me I usually freeze. We all left our desks as they were and headed out into the hall. I really had significant issues with the way in which we were to take shelter. We were to face the wall and curl up into a ball wrapping our hands around our necks. I was really uncomfortable with exposing my spine to whatever mother nature decided to make a projectile. Fortunately, we were right across from the auditorium. The auditorium was like most and angled down. There was a pit about four feet deep with stairs that lead to the auditorium. That's where I went to the pit. I didn't care what they said I was staying there. About ten minutes after the shelter siren we heard this rumbling, rolling, roar like a rocket taking off. The doors blew open students were screaming and trash cans were flying! I was at ground zero! I just closed my eyes and prepared to die. The good thing about tornadoes is they are over quick and there is not better calm than the calm after a huge storm. We were to stay in the shelter until the all clear from the county sheriff. I had to pee! Great now what am I going to do. All of the bathrooms were full of students, the students who went to the boys bathroom were obviously desperate to live I would not crouch down on that floor. It was my first exposure to faculty bathrooms--NICE!


Now that Teensy and the boys are here I have to put on a front that I am not afraid and that everything will be ok. Having just moved to this city, I don't know what county I'm in, what town are surrounding me or which little box i should watch on the radar. I'm screwed basically and just have to use my instincts and watch every window from top to bottom. Titus is a storm hater too, and seeks shelter in our bed when he hears the slightest noise. Chubbers and Teensy haven't shown their colors yet so we won't know if they are storm haters or not.


I will keep an eye to the sky and try to channel the Lee George mojo until June. So many storm stories to tell. So little time. I've had enough though I'm totally creeped out and ready to say...Until next time.

4 comments:

Tracy said...

how scarey - i only experienced one tornado and i was an adult and it was frightening - i cannot imagine what it must've been like for a child - poor Will!

Sue McGettigan said...

Will I'm just rolling around thinking about the desperate boys who would lay on the boy's bathroom floor - eeewwwwww!!! We had cyclones where I grew up, I'm with you on the whole storm thing, not fun!

Sue McGettigan said...

OK, I'm back to say 'must push Mildred to tell all about the topless Mrs. Butram ..." - thanks for that.

Donna said...

William. You are such a sissy. I can't believe you're so scared of storms. For crying out loud we've grown up with them. They aren't that scary. I'm more of a watch with the men from the lawn kind of girl. BTW, you live in Tulsa county and your surrounding counties are Wagoner, Okmulgee, Rogers, Creek, Okfuskee and Osage. Tulsa county is small and sort of skinny compared to the surrounding counties. God love you. Don't even know your own county.
The Butram story....Dana (pronounced with a short A). It's funny how you get close to these people. Very personal cleaning someone's house once a week. That's the good thing about getting pregnant at 40....gave me an excuse to quit because it would have been so hard to leave them. I really cared about them. Anyway....one day, Dana was getting ready to go somewhere and she just had to tell me about something. She came into the living room in the midst of applying her makeup and she was topless. I mean the braless kind of topless. Do you have any idea how hard it is to have a 10 minute conversation with a topless person while making the most conscious effort imaginable not to look at their boobs???