And the Thunder rolled…

They said, “Take cover.” I thought it over.

Storms as predicted Saturday night, and I realized as I looked out at the flashes of lightning that there are different stages of reaction to imminent danger.

When I was chasing the weather for Channel Seven it was at that stage of my young life in which I somehow thought myself indestructible. It never entered my mind that the storm was a thing of reckoning, something that could have picked up my puny newscar and tossed it in a ditch. (A TV-logo-on-the-doors Ford Pinto, for those of you who might remember that clunker classic…)

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It wasn’t even an adrenaline thing. Never been one for bungee-jumping, cliff-diving, or parachuting. (Leaping from a perfectly good airplane, as my good friend Michael used to describe it.) Driving toward a tornado was just what the job called for back then.

Then, I hung up the camera and the microphones and found myself on the other side of the media – with children. Whoa. The sirens took on a completely different message. Closets became shelters to herd and hide the kids. Late night, or not – you just don’t take chances with the lives of others who depend on you.

The thunder boomed last night and I clicked the remote. Patches of radar red immediately filled the screen, and I considered the excited voices of the TV team and their spotters. (Some might have described the voices as panicked, I don’t know. They seemed pretty worked up.) Broken Arrow was mentioned so I got out of bed.

Trees in the backyard were almost motionless. I could see flashes to the south. The city is much larger than it used to be, and a tornado strike could be miles away and still be local.

What are the odds, I wondered – then crawled back under the covers. I enjoy sleeping in a thunderstorm. Go figure.

Those dire warnings certainly weren’t wasted in the case of the several homes hit in the southeast part of town. But I realized at the time that things have changed greatly from my indestructible days. (Daze.) Now, I can assess the situation and make a decision while knowing there may be consequences. Not crazy stuff. If those trees had been flapping I would have leaped in the bathtub.

Damage was mostly to my pride when I emerged this morning. I hadn’t rolled up the passenger window all the way. Thunderstorms seem to know things like that. The picture shows the FEMA-approved method of flood recovery. Open it up, and air it out.

We’ll be whipping up a storm at the shop tomorrow, so – Come visit!

McHuston

Booksellers and Irish Bistro
Rose District
122 South Main St. Broken Arrow, OK!

Such a short time, so long ago.

Friday.

And it’s Ray J’s birthday. I don’t make note of it every year, and I can’t say what has caused me to think about it just now. He showed up in a dream the other night, and maybe that was part of it. It was good to see him again after so long. Ray J. didn’t stay around long enough.

If we had a cake today, it would probably be one of those one-candle deals – not enough space for the true birthday number. Probably a fire hazard. He was born in 1927 and it would have been his eighty-eighth today. I can’t even imagine it. When I was young, I thought he was old, but now I’m older than he ever was. (Probably would constitute a fire hazard to decorate a cake for my years these days…)

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Pretty strange – in the dream – with him at the age I remember him back then. Younger looking than I feel, most of the time. But those sleeping events are always a bit out-of-kilter.

He missed out on the whole computer and information age, which has allowed me to know more about him now than I ever did. I have a picture of him up on the bookstore wall; he’s in his US Navy uniform at age eighteen. I’ve been asked if it’s my picture, back in the day, but in truth, when I was that age I wasn’t anywhere near a uniform and I certainly wasn’t thousands of miles from home in the Pacific.

The war was on and Ray J. signed up shortly after his birthday and in short order found himself aboard a destroyer escort taking part in anti-sub sweeps east of Tokyo, part of Task Group 30. They came upon a surfaced submarine and engaged along with another escort class ship, which wound up being the last combat operation of the USS Keller.

After V-J Day, the ship was ordered to Guam and Ray J. transferred to the USS Moore, where he reported to communications after a promotion to Radioman Third Class. I always thought that was a bit ironic, that I wound up having a career in communications as a radioman. (Third-rate, I’m reminded…) It was one of the few stories he told me about his war experiences, spotting enemy planes from the conning tower.

Most of the few tales he mentioned were those feel-good types. The sign above the serving line in the galley: Take all you want, but eat all you take. (Must be where that clean-your-plate edict started.) There was the young fellow who was always cutting himself during the required morning shave, until it was suggested that he take the blade out of his razor. I didn’t need much in the way of shaving at age eighteen either.

These days, the wartime documents can be found on the internet, and I can see copies of the ship’s muster roll, with his name and serial number recorded. Surprisingly, I can also see an image of his gravestone – posted online by someone whose name is totally unfamiliar. Maybe it was an assignment or something. Seems odd to me though, a stranger with a camera standing over my father’s grave, snapping a picture.

Equally odd is the notion that – even as I approach retirement age – I’m still wondering if he would be pleased with me or not. Silly to think of my seeking his approval at this stage and after so many years. Maybe if I had known him as an adult myself, I would have gotten past all that.

My children never knew him, just as my sisters and I never knew his father; it did not occur to me until many years later how short their lives were. It makes me appreciate my own fortune to have lived enough years to meet my own grandchildren. (Beauties!)

These days I remember with a new-found fondness the few times I heard him singing with abandon in his wonderful tenor voice, and in lieu of cake and candles – perhaps we might just share an Irish sentiment:

Why should I be out of mind because
I am out of sight?
I am but waiting for you, for an interval,
somewhere very near, just around the corner.
All is well. Nothing is hurt; nothing is lost.
One brief moment and all will be as it was before.
How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting,
when we meet again.

Happy birthday, Father. I believe I can hear you singing.

Mom’s Day 2015

It’s that day for honoring all the Moms in our lives with a great big Happy Mother’s Day, even when it falls on a rainy Springtime day in Oklahoma!

Here in the Rose District, there are plenty of folks dining out with family, including sidewalk lunches – since the rain has managed to hold off through the lunch hour. It’s a bit of good fortune that the Rooster Day activities did not enjoy.

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We rolled through the Rooster here at the bookshop. Dustin and I did not know what to expect, since a year ago we were not serving lunches on Saturdays. While we have a system down for our offerings at noon, that doesn’t include the closing of Main Street and parking for a third of our service period.

Or the presence of corn dogs, funnel cakes, and Indian Tacos just down the block.

So, we had a limited menu offered (with an explanation) and it seemed to work out. We had folks in after the parade (and you know how Broken Arrow LOVES its Main Street parades…), and among the diners was my own mother and sisters. It was fun to be able to provide a pre-Mother’s Day luncheon for them.

Next year, we’ll know a little more about what to expect on Rooster Day.!

The fancy online weather radars are showing most of this afternoon’s heavy storms to be located down by the McAlester area, which means my MacTown friends are pretty well soaked by now. Quite a bit of rain fell on Pittsburg County on Saturday as well. And the saying is all about April showers…

Here’s hoping your Mother’s Day is everything it could be – and more! We’ll be cooking again tomorrow, so…

Come visit!

McHuston

Booksellers & Irish Bistro
Rose District
122 South Main St. Broken Arrow OK!