Cumberland Times-News

Columns

November 3, 2012

It was an ill wind that blew nobody good

I have seen it rain harder than it did last Monday night, and I have seen the wind blow harder ... but then I wasn’t in some of the places where other folks were unfortunate enough to be.

That said, water was coming in over top of the door to my back porch, which has a roof over it. Never saw the like of that before, but when the wind started to die down it dried up. Other folks apparently had the same problem.

The Famous Company of Myrtle Beach Golfers was in its hotel rooms years ago on the 10th or 11th floor, and we had a fine view of the beach.

What came through wasn’t a hurricane, and it probably wasn’t even a tropical storm, but it was close.

You know how an electric razor hums and vibrates? That’s what the walls of our hotel rooms were doing. The difference in air pressure inside and outside the rooms was such that we couldn’t open the sliding doors (although in retrospect, I wonder why we would have wanted to do such a thing).

Several tall palmetto trees were lying flat on the beach — such was the force of the wind that was hitting them — and they had not been uprooted. The next day, they were standing up, just like nothing had happened.

At one point, the lights went out, and there began an exodus of people on our floor toward the stairwell. Outside one of our rooms, however, a hurricane light went on and stayed on.

That being the case, we decided to stay put. There was light enough for us to continue doing what we already had started.

Besides, as Digger or someone else said, “If this building does go down, they won’t have as far to dig to get to us as they will to get to those people in the lobby.”

Some other folks on our floor followed our line of reasoning and joined us outside our room for what turned out to be one of the better parties I’d attended since graduating from college.

We were well supplied with what sailors in the U.S. Navy refer to as “hydraulic sandwiches” (that is to say, provisions that are liquid in nature), and we decided we might as well use up the ice in our small refrigerators before it melted.

As the Marines say, “Adapt, improvise, overcome.”

Most of the soil in Myrtle Beach is sandy and drains well, so we were able to go out and play golf the next day.

Superstorm Sandy brought snow to many places, and I haven’t liked snow since I quit deer hunting in the stuff at Mary and Frank Calemine’s farm, where I could to walk back to a nice, warm cabin.

Snow has at times made my life miserable. I worked night shift at the newspaper both days of the weekend during what was called the Storm of the Century in 1993.

Saturday was bad enough, but Sunday was worse. I spent most of Sunday afternoon shoveling out enough of the entrance to driveway at my apartment in Cumberland that I felt I could reasonably expect to find it after coming home that night.

Wrong. I got home about midnight to find out that I had wasted my time. The wind had blown enough snow into my driveway that I had no idea where the entrance was and put the front end of my four-wheel-drive Ford Bronco II down over a slight bank.

There was no reason to go any farther forward, but neither could I go backward.

So I went to my basement and got my come-along (which is called that because it makes things come along when they don’t want to).

I hooked one end of its cable to the frame of my Bronco and the other to a telephone pole across the street, and began to crank on the handle. The whole time, I was praying, “Please, Lord, don’t let anybody come up this street in a car while I’m doing this.”

I probably didn’t need to worry, because nobody in his right mind would have been out on a night like that, and nobody did.

After successfully extricating my vehicle, I was able to find the entrance to the driveway and bulldoze my way into the garage.

Twice in recent years, I have had to shovel out the entrance to the driveway at my home in Keyser. Most of it was ice that had been put there by a snow plow, and it took me two days both times.

The street was slick, but had been plowed and was navigable, and now and then folks I know stopped their cars in the middle of the street to talk for a while.

This is Mineral Street in Keyser, which on a normal day sees about 14,000 vehicles going one way or the other.

Two of these nice people were old schoolmates who were sisters, and I asked where they were going on such a fine summer day.

“To the store and get some beer,” one of them said.

I clapped my hands and said, “Now that’s how you do it!”

Bless their hearts, they stopped on the way back and dropped me off a bag of wine coolers. I savored every one of them.

My worst snow experience happened in 1970, when I was part of a traveling basketball team that the radio stations in Keyser and Oakland put together. I was a disc jockey.

Coming home, by the time I got to the top of Backbone Mountain where it descends toward Luke, I couldn’t even see the hood of my Jeep — that’s how hard the snow and wind were coming at me.

So I rolled down the window and navigated by turning in when the mountain turned in, and turning out when the mountain turned out.

It must have taken me close to an hour to go just a couple of miles, and I don’t think I’ve ever been as glad to see anything as I was to see that cliffside at the bottom of the mountain.

A cousin of mine lies in southwest Arizona.

There are times — although not so much in the summer — when I almost envy him.

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