Sunday, May 18, 2008

Where Were You 28 Years Ago Today ?

I remember where I was..my former husband and I, along with our young son were driving around the Olympia-Lacy, Washington area looking at homes.  The Milwaukee Railroad had folded on April 1, 1980 and my husband was sort of in limbo...looking for a job.  We were considering a move about 20 miles south and opening an equipment rental store. So on this beautiful May Sunday afternoon we took a drive to look at houses. For some odd reason I don't remember that we had the radio on in the car as we drove around from house to house...so we were unaware of what was going on less than 100 miles south of us.  Later in the afternoon we decided to head back home and one of us flipped on the radio.  There it was...the news we'd been expecting.  Mt St Helens had erupted big time.  It wasn't the little puffs of steam that had been reported but the big eruption they'd been predicting.

My first thought was the old man named Harry Truman that had been refusing to leave his lodge on beautiful Spirit Lake. His family and the authorities had spent weeks trying to get him and his many cats to leave the area, warning him of the consequences if he stayed. Harry came to the area in 1926 building a log cabin, a grocery store & gas station and a boat rental business.  In 1939 he built a lodge and people would come from the city for weekend and vacation fun. He eventually owned 54 acres and had 100 boats in his rental fleet.  It was his home and by golly he wasn't leaving.  Follow this link to a You Tube Video about Harry, Spirit Lake and the mountain.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WGwa3N43GB4

I think the saddest thing I ever saw several months after the eruption was his family climbing into a helicopter and being flown over the area where Spirit Lake had once been and dropping a floral wreath in Harry's memory.  How sad it must have been for his family and the families of the other dear ones killed that day.

Anyway, my husband pilled the car over along the freeway and we looked back at the darkened sky to the south of us.  The prevailing winds blew most of the plume to the east , blotting out the sun in cities across the Cascades in eastern Washington.  The people wore masks, there was concern about ash ruining vehicle engines and destroying crops. North of the eruption we did get a light covering of ash...I have a picture of our BBQ where I wrote the date in the ash covering it's black lid.  But the cities near the mountain and those across the Cascades really got it. 

Later that summer my husband did go to work for the Union Pacific Railroad and on trips to cities south of here , the guys would walk thru 2-4 inches of ash that covered the parking lots, etc.   In fact somewhere here I still have a milk carton of Mt St Helen's ash that he collected for me in the train yard in Longview, Washington. 

In almost a single moment this beautiful, pristine mountain and the surrounding area was devastated by the blast.  The mountain itself was reduced in height by 1,312 feet, 57 people lost their lives, 250 homes were destroyed, 47 bridges were wiped out by the flow of mud and trees, 15 miles of rail line was wiped out and 185 miles of highways were lost.

For more on the unforgettable event stop over at; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_St._Helens  and read more. 

The mountain has rumbled to life several times since that day 28 years ago but today, I'm happy to say that the old girl is sitting calm...but who knows what tomorrow, next week or next year will bring ?

http://www.fs.fed.us/gpnf/volcanocams/msh/

On another note; a new temperature record was set yesterday in Seattle.  The official thermometer (probably at Seattle-Tacoma Int'l Airport) hit 90 degrees.  The warmest May 17th on record.  I think my house was 190*...poor Gabi was really dragging (as was I.)   I was able to get the living room down to about 78* by  about 10 o'clock last night and she really perked up. Today is supposed to be cooler.

17 comments:

labdancer51 said...

Hi Linda,  28 years ago today I was hosting a party for my little boy`s 3rd birthday. Today my son Dan is 31 and is as strong and handsome as he was cute and adorable back then. :o) I remember seeing on the TV some years ago about the man who refused to leave St. Helens,. I know it was terribly sad but I suppose his reasons were good enough for him, you have to admire him for taking a stand against the mountain.

Love Sandra xxxx

http://journals.aol.com/labdancer51/SandrasScribbles/

dbdacoba said...

Linda, great piece about Mt. St. Helens and Harry Truman.
I don't remeber where I was 28 years ago but I remember the eruption.  Being an easterner it seemed so far away.  But it was very big and terrifying all the same.

jjdolfin9 said...

Quite an event.  I loved the U-Tube video and song about Harry Truman.
Hugs, Joyce

jlocorriere05 said...

I remember the eruption, my friend was staying close by at the time and watched it blow. I remember seeing the devastation on TV. I hope it doesn't blow again for a long, long time. Jeannette xx  

robinngabster said...

I can hardly remember where I was last Sunday...28 years ago I was um....14!!!!!!!!!!!!!

lv2trnscrb said...

I had a co-worker at the time whose daughter had gotten married the previous December and moved up to the Washington area; she was close to Mt. St. Helen's, but not in danger, but I remember her frequent calls to her mom about what was going on in the area with the volcano

a very interesting piece of history; can't believe 28 years have gone by

betty

deshelestraci said...

Who could forget that event?!  We weren't on the west coast back then but we remember.
Traci

fasttrack58 said...

I was living in Sunnyvale Ca, a sophmore in high school....
The next summer in 1981 we went on a family vacation up through Oregon and Washington and we saw Mt. St. Helens...
Have a cool day!
Linda :)

monicasmemoirs said...

Has it really been 28 years!?!?

I remember it, I was living in the SF Bay Area at the time.  Sonny was here and he had to drive his motorcycle home and he said there was ash blowing all over the road as he was trying to get back to Tacoma.  From the way he was talking the road was made slippery by the ash - was it wet too?  I should've asked him.

Monica who will go look for some of my MT ST Helen's photos.

mariealicejoan said...

It's hard to believe that it's been 28 years!  When I stop and think about it though my 28 year old daughter was only a few months old so I guess it has been!  It was a very scary time.  We felt it in Canada in Southwestern Alberta where I was living at the time and we did get ash fall out as well.
Marie
http://ayearatoakcottage.blogspot.com/

jimsulliv3 said...

I remember that day distinctly and watched many hours of the television coverage. What really overwhelmed me was the magnitude of death and destruction.

Jimmy

wwfbison said...

This is so interesting ~ how amazing the height lost.  I will visit the videos when I am home, I would love to hear more about Truman.  Very interesting read Linda.
Lisa

domsmom27 said...

What a memory to bring back.  A friend was out there and brought me back a baby food jar of ash.  I kept it on a shelf til about 5 years ago, I thought, "what am I saving this for?" I opened it and threw the ash in the back yard. So I think I am the only person at the New Jersey Shore with Mount St. Helens ash in my back yard.    Marlene
       http://journals.aol.com/domsmom27/one-day-at-a-time

blossomcat said...

I was wondering where the heat was and now I know.  I live in western PA and the past few days have been downright cold.   I got the rugs cleaned and had to turn on the furnace so they would dry.   The weather here is more like March than May.

Claudia

kaydeejay5449 said...

Even those of us hundreds and thousands of miles away felt the impact of that day.  Air traffic had to be diverted all over the western United States due to ash.  It was facinating to watch the video of the explosion on the news.  The wrath of that much force was so immense that it took watching it many times to come to terms with it.  

Nature is a mighty force!

Love, Kathy

gotomaria said...

Linda!  Thanks for the reminder!  I didn't realize that Harry Truman had more than a cabin up there...guess I didn't get the full facts.  Thanks for sharing....I was at home I think when this happened..seems like it was a weekend.  My husband and his friend jumped in an airplane and flew near the volcano that day....to see the eruption aftermaths...It was definitely a big event.   The Youtube video and song will live in my memory. Such a reminder of the power of nature....and the spirit of a man.   Maria

sdoscher458 said...

It is so hard to think that so many years have passed. I remember this like it was yesterday, cause I was worried about my sister and her boys. It was sad about Harry, but when nature rocks and rolls you really have to get out of her way...love, Sandi