Thursday, February 14, 2013


       Hurricane Donna came to town when I was about five or six years old.  The entire Tampa Bay area was shut down. These were the old days when a police officer could say get inside and you asked how far?  There was no messing around.  No one went down to the beach just for fun to see how high the waves were.  Those people near the sea walls were officials assessing the emergency.  There was no time or fuel or manpower wasted telling tourists to get out of the water, they had been told to evacuate and they went.
      There were some warnings provided by storm planes and the news and there was little time for panic.  You knew it was hurricane season.  You knew they might come, so you had water and food and blankets ready in case you had a broken window.  You had candles and hurricane lamps, which is what we in the south call a kerosene lamp!  The extra kerosene was stored in a 

bedroom so the lamps could be refilled without going outside.  The tub was filled with water and stoppered with a wax plug that saved the water for the toilet.
      The hall was cleared of all its decoration and furniture.  That was where we would go if there was a tornado.  The bathroom was a privilege and off limits like the kitchen.These rooms were for work, not play, grown ups staffed the kitchen.

       You had a plan and you knew your part.  As a child, my part was pretty much just to be quiet and wait it out in the center part of the house. 

       We waited for the storm.  In those days you heeded the warnings, finished your prepping and settled in to wait for the rain.  There was time after lunch while we still had power and the wind wasn't howling yet.  We were sent to brush our teeth in shifts, girls first.  We took a sponge bath and put on a fresh set of clothes.  We were dressed to go to school in case the house lifted or floated away, we were ready to hit the street running!  The boys went next.  When our parents were ready to sleep in clean clothes, we were ready to bounce!  

       People don’t realize how the dropping barometric pressure affects children.  The pressure drops and we could have bounced off the walls if we had been allowed.  Everything was funny!  We laughed like we were drunk!  After the parental yelling shut us up, our grandmother broke out the playing cards and games.

       She had a pile of games in the corner of the Florida room that was boarded up from the inside where she would spend the night.  If we were good, we could play till the rain started.  We had access to Parcheesi, Checkers, Old Maid cards, and a regular deck of playing cards.  We spent the next hours like angels fully engrossed in games and card play.  As soon as the heavy rain came, we all passed out and slept through the storm.

      There were three days of nowhere to go and nothing to do after the storm.  Those cards were used in regular card games like solitaire and crazy eights.  They were also used to build card houses that were then sacrificed to the game called, sit on the rug and blow the house down!  Parcheesi was a good game, and the Parcheesi board later became part of a card house wind break.  Checkers were pillars of the card mansion.  We played.  We passed the time.

      Another game we played was "school".  My sister, the eldest was the teacher and we had the same rules as in real school.  We had to raise our hands to ask a question, ask to go to the restroom and when asked a question, we had to answer.  That game lasted almost an entire day.

      In my prep supplies are some interesting items that came from that lesson cooped up in a house with the family.  These are not packed in the bug out bag, though there is a deck of cards in there.  These items are around the house and in the box of kitchen supplies or in with the winter clothes.  They are for the time when the lights are out and the work is done. 
      I have a deck of cards, a deck of concentration cards (it’s a matching game where the cards are turned up for a peek then you remember where they are to match them on your next turn), a tic tack toe game on a wood board with wooden playing pieces, Crossword puzzle books that have wipe off pages for “re-play”, board games, Chinese checkers, checkers and chess sets.  There will be quiet time, bonding and learning time with family or friends.  There will be sit and wait time.
      After the work is done and the light is too low to mend or read, what will you do with your quiet time?  How will you keep your mind sharp?  How will you entertain visitors in the evening or a Sunday afternoon?
A karaoke machine requires an ability to sing and electricity.  Name that tune does not.  

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