Saturday, September 26, 2009

Memories of Weather

Now that we have survived the Great Flood of 2009, here in Atlanta, Georgia, I am reminded that as we write memoirs and family histories, we need to keep in mind the impact and influence of weather. We have all heard the stories about our parents, as children having to walk to school in the middle of winter, when the thermometer measured below zero temperatures. Our parents were barefoot and walking uphill, both to and from school, and grateful they were able to do it! But what was it really like? What sort of impact did the weather have on our parents and grandparents? These are important questions to answer.

Just recently, I was interviewing a lady who had lived through, and experienced some of the most deadly hurricanes in Miami, Florida. She was just a young girl when the Hurricane of 1926 hit. Her family stayed in their home, on Cocoa Beach, during the storm that killed an estimated 375 people. Just two years later, her family spent the night in the Cocoa Beach jail house (her father was a police officer) when the 1928 Okeechobee Hurricane hit. This storm killed more than 2800 people. Then, seven years later she sat through the 1935 Labor Day Hurricane that killed more than 400 people. Her husband was one of the men volunteering to search for survivors and recover bodies from the train wreckage of the Key West railroad extension. The train, fully loaded with evacuees, was blown off the tracks and into the water off of Upper Matecumbe Key.

Yet, this lady has never been terribly disturbed by the threats of hurricanes. As she told me in her interview, “You know when a hurricane is coming. You can prepare for it and survive. I would rather live with hurricanes than tornados. You never know when the tornados might hit.”

Just this small portion of her interview provides some fascinating and dramatic information. So, you see, consider weather as a topic of discussion in oral histories, memoirs, or family histories. Snow storms or tornados; hurricanes or floods; a discussion of weather and its impact on our lives is always worth discussing.

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