I am a great fan of thunderstorms. The dogs aren’t very fond of them, but to me the sound of a rainstorm outside my window is soothing in a lot of ways. It’s the knowledge that I’m inside, out of the wet and the cold and able to listen to the thunder and watch the lightning.
When I was young, we lived in Parkersburg and the back porch of our house opened up in to a shared yard that stretched for the entire block. That house was completely destroyed in the F5 that hit a few years ago, but at the time we could see quite a wide stretch of horizon from where we sat. My sister Peggy and I would watch the lightning with my dad and drink Orange Crush. It’s one of the things I remember most about that house, watching storms on the back porch.
The back yard was also occupied or perhaps better described as dominated by a huge garden that was probably better better described as a weed patch aspiring to be a source of stustenance for people, though it usually ended up feeding the large population of rabbits that seemed to show themselves in the neighborhood every spring.
Years later, an F-5 tornado destroyed that house and the surrounding neighborhood, so that all remains is a large empty lot surrounded by other, large empty lots. I go through every once in a while to try to remember what the town was like, but it’s not that town any more. The places I remember are long gone. Polly’s cafe where we would occasionally eat dinner when my dad worked late at the drugstore, the variety store, where you could still buy penny candy all the way up until I left 5th grade, and the hardware store next door to my dad’s pharmacy, which smelled mostly of floor sweeping compound and the pipe tobacco that the proprieter smoked.
I never liked Parkersburg very much after I left. I guess years of bullying and mistreatment by your peers, and the indifference of the adults who just seemed to let it happen, will do that to you. I think I’m still recovering from that place, in some ways, almost 40 years later.
But history is history, it’s what you do as a result that makes all the difference, and I’ve managed to move on, for the most part.