The act of reading ... begins on a flat surface, counter or page, and then gets stirred and chopped and blended until what we make, in the end, is a dish, or story, all our own.
— Adam Gopnik
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

October 28, 2012

Sunday waiting

On the morning of September 21, 1938, the people of Boston had many concerns: the surprise victory in the Democratic gubernatorial primary by the controversial James Michael Curley (he would lose the election that November, the Red Sox's doubleheader sweep of the St. Louis Browns (Boston would finish nine and a half games behind the Yankees), and the annexation of the Sudetenland from Czechoslovakia by Adolf Hitler (he would start World War II). A small note in the Boston Globe's evening edition mentioned a tropical storm over Connecticut.

At least one Bostonian saw the hurricane coming, however.  E.B. Rideout was the beloved, quirky weatherman at radio station WEEI.  He slept about four hours a night, pulled out weather charts while driving his car, and often paused on air until he found the appropriate scribbled note. But he never missed a broadcast, and on the rare occasion when he muffed a forecast, he denied himself pudding after his ritual lunch at Durgin Park. On September 21, Rideout saw the high-pressure systems flanking a zone of low pressure into New England and predicted the hurricane's eventual path. His fellow meteorologists scoffed. But after the storm, Rideout's listeners thanked him in spades. On September 22, he ate two puddings.

 ... The heavy winds arrived in Boston around 5:00, as people emerged from their offices. Pedestrians grabbed onto streetlamps and each other, shielding their faces from flying gravel. The plate-glass display windows along Tremont and Boylston Streets shattered.  Falling trees brought down sputtering wires, blocked cobblestone streets and major highways, and impeded suburbanites carrying home suburbanites. ... At the Blue Hill Observatory, just miles from downtown Boston, the windmill anemometer disintegrated after recording a two-minute average wind speed of 83 miles per hour. Another anemometer ...registered a peak gust of 187 miles per hour. ...
      'It was the funniest storm I ever saw,' marveled Helen Whitley, who lived on Marlborough Street in the Back Bay. 'Just winded that acted as if it had giant hands which grabbed and twisted everything they came in contact with, wrenching it up and throwing it down.' Felled trees and storm debris scarred landmark public spaces:  the Public Garden, Boston Common, Harvard Yard, the Charles River embankment. The worst ecological damage was in the Arnold Arboretum, the city's repository of botanical treasures, where more than fifteen hundred trees were uprooted or snapped into pieces.

from The Hurricane of 1938, by Robert Allison and Aram Goudsouzian

Waiting is hard. I'm not really nervous about the storm, just distracted by anticipation. Even though what's going to happen here is going to be ominous, and dangerous, we're going to be spared the worst of it. Even knowing that we're going to be all right, with the worst damage probably being a fridge and freezer full of spoiled food, I'm thinking about my friends and former co-workers in Delaware, and selfishly feeling very glad that I'm not still there, and about family members in New Jersey, lower Manhattan and Brooklyn.  Please let everyone be safe.

After hearing about the comparisons, I was curious to know if there was the same anticipation 74 years ago. After days of Twitter and CNN and the local weather, it's so interesting to imagine not knowing, or not believing.

Anyway... I have candles (battery-operated ones and the old-fashioned kind), batteries for my Ipod speakers {the battery backup for my alarm clock doesn't work - tragic!} and days (even weeks) of audiobooks to listen to, an emergency supply of freshly-baked oatmeal raisin cookies, plenty of water, and plenty of books.  I have two mysteries going that I might try to finish up today, and another on my Ipod that I've really been enjoying. But after that ... It's a total coincidence, but these are the two new books that came in on library reserve yesterday. :)

Hope everyone is safe over the next few days. 

No comments:

Thank you for visiting!

Card Catalog

#6barsets #emma200th #maisie #PalliserParty #Woolfalong A.A. Milne Agatha Christie Alexander McCall Smith Allison Pearson Amy Lowell Angela Thirkell Ann Bridge Anne Perry Anthony Trollope Anticipation Armchair Travels Art Audiobooks Barbara Pym Biography Bloomsbury Bookish things Boston British Library Crime Classics Cambridge Cathleen Schine Charles Dickens Coffee-table books Cookbooks D.E. Stevenson Deborah Crombie Donna Leon Dorothy L. Sayers Dorothy Whipple E.H. Young E.M. Delafield E.M. Forster Edith Wharton Elinor Lipman Elizabeth Gaskell Elizabeth Jenkins Elizabeth Taylor Elizabeth von Arnim Ellizabeth Taylor Emily Dickinson Ernest Hemingway Eudora Welty Fiction Films Food from Books Food Writing Found on a Blog George Eliot Georgette Heyer Helen Ashton Henry James History Homes and Haunts Ideas Imogen Robertson Isabella Stewart Gardner Jacqueline Winspear Jane Austen Joanna Trollope Julia Child Language Laurie Colwin Letters Library Books Literature Louise Andrews Kent Louise Penny M.F.K. Fisher Madame Bovary Madame de Sévigné Madame de Staël Margaret Kennedy Margery Sharp Martha Grimes Mary Shelley Memoirs Miss Read My Year with Edith Mysteries Nathaniel Hawthorne Nonfiction Nook Only Connect P.D. James Paris in July Persephones Plays Poetry Pride and Prejudice 200 Queen Victoria R.I.P. Reading England 2015 Ruth Rendell Sarah Orne Jewett Short Stories Switzerland Sylvia Beach Team Middlemarch The 1924 Club The Brontës the Carlyles The Classics Club Thomas Hardy Virago Virginia Woolf Washington Irving Willa Cather William Maxwell Winifred Peck Winifred Watson