Memories from 1945
When I was a kid in north Florida, we always looked forward to hurricanes. During those times, the St. Johns River would move into our front yard: brown river-water, dirty-white foaming --- complete with sewage --- right there on my father's nicely-kept lawn.

We'd wake up in the morning and the French doors on the deck would be moaning, the copper weather-stripping making a perfect organ of sound against the double doors, each in a different key, Concerto for French Door and Windstorm. Grade school would be called off for a week.

No bailing out, except bailing out the water that crept into the kitchen, or the guest room. Our family would ride out the storm. With gusto.

We'd light the candles, bring out the Sterno, boil water, and make Campbell's tomato soup, served with Ritz crackers. We'd play Chinese Checkers and watch the oaks or camphor trees out the window, bending, branches breaking, branches rolling across the yard.

My dad would stay home from the office, nail things shut, roam the attic or the yard. Something would bang and he'd go outside to stop it. Once he donned his rubber raincoat and his flip-flops and took ten-year-old me on his back down to the river. This was the first (and last) time he ever carried me, a closeness I remember with especial pain (he died shortly after).

In those days, the hurricanes were all anonymous but were almost always friendly. We sent the scariest ones down south to Miami or north to take out Myrtle Beach. Evacuation was something you did in the bathroom, not on the highway. If the roof leaked, and it often did, we'd put pots on the floor, and they would accompany the songs of the French doors. Plink, plank, plunk ... and moan.

--- L. W. Milam
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