“Yet cease your ire, you angry stars of heaven! Wind, rain, and thunder, remember earthly man Is but a substance that must yield to you.”
I thought I’d start out this week with a quote from William Shakespeare, just to add a little literary class to the newspaper. It’s all downhill from here.
The subject is storms, and more specifically tornadoes.
The city’s tornado sirens went off last Wednesday night, and as always I wondered whether there really would be a tornado. Should we take cover? After all, it usually isn’t a big deal. Then again, it only takes one time so my wife grabbed some school work, I grabbed a book and the cat, and we headed for the basement.
Of course, the first thing we did was text our sons in town to make sure they heard the siren. They are grown men and responsible members of society who had things under control, but it’s just something parents have to do. If we live to be 100, our kids will be in their 70s and we will be sending them holographic images reminding them to brush their teeth.
With our parental duties fulfilled, I had time to think about tornadoes of the past in and near Troy.
I remember back in the 1960s when I was in grade school I was tagging along with my oldest brother and we stopped at his friend’s house in Westbrook. We were down in the basement and I was watching the Cincinnati Reds play the Milwaukee Braves on television. I remember the Reds lost.
Anyway, I was getting bored and was ready to go home but my brother kept delaying departure. Finally, we left and on the way up the stairs he told me there had been a tornado in town. The streets were littered with branches and trees and wires were down. I remember being kind of disappointed because here I was in the middle of a big storm, and I didn’t even know it.
This was in the days before tornado sirens and weather alerts on your cell phone — well, it actually was way before cell phones and even home computers, let alone alerts. So the way you found out about a tornado was you looked out the window and if a big cloud was headed your way, you dove for the basement.
That’s what happened to my aunt and uncle in Cincinnati in 1974. The same day the tornado hit Xenia, tornadoes also struck parts of Cincinnati. They decided to go into their basement and just moments later a tornado rolled through and leveled their house. They survived without a scratch.
The Xenia tornado was a big deal in these parts but I have to admit I was pretty ignorant about it at the time, too. I didn’t really find out about the extent of the damage until the next day.
I didn’t miss the big storm at one of the early Strawberry Festivals. We were up on the levee with our kids in strollers when the sirens, which were installed in Troy after the Xenia tornado, went off. I don’t think it actually was a tornado, but it was a real Shakespearian type storm, with booths being blow off the levee and rain coming down in sheets. We beat a hasty retreat across Staunton Road to a house owned by friends of my parents.
That brings us back to last week. The cat didn’t stay in the basement long. She’s 18 years old and besides, she’s a cat so she doesn’t like to be told what to do. After a few minutes she got bored and wandered back upstairs. I figured if there were any loud noises she would be back in a hurry. An 18-year-old cat is supposed to be like an 88-year-old human, and she didn’t live that long by taking chances. My wife and I stayed in the basement and watched the weather radar on our phones. It looked a lot worse on our phones than it did outside our house.
Eventually, we returned upstairs. The cat was acting all cool, licking her paws and looking at us disdainfully. But that’s OK. Better safe than sorry. I decided It’s better to have sirens and radars than to use the old system, that’s for sure.
Now that I’m older, I’m not disappointed at all to miss out on a big stom. I’m happy to agree with good old Bill Shakespeare, who reminded us: “Every cloud engenders not a storm.”
David Lindeman is a Troy resident and former editor at the Troy Daily News. He can be reached at email@example.com.