by Pat Piper
Within hours after Floyd left town, the stories began.
Everyone could talk about the flooding and the trees coming down and the wind and the way the waves looked and the 12-plus hours without electricity. In normal times, each of these could stand by itself in silencing the room. But when Floyd dropped in, nothing was normal. Usually, that only happens when the power goes out.
Evacuation was the story told by Russell who lives in Shady Side. We were sitting around a table at Happy Harbor during breakfast when he started in. For the record, nobody was evacuated and Russell knew it. So he danced with the facts.
"They were banging on my door saying this is your last chance," he explained and the table became quiet. "They were saying the eye was going to come right up the street."
"Russell," someone said, "the eye was 100 miles off Ocean City."
"I knew that," he shot back. The story was over.
"Well, before the power went out, I got a reading of a wind gust at 57 miles an hour from the Thomas Point Light web site," said some guy I'd never met who had invited himself to the table.
"Only 57?" Another asked. She was shocked and appalled at the mere mediocrity of the wind speed. "Hell, we had gusts of 68 miles an hour almost all afternoon. The BG&E guys said this was the worst they had experienced all day!" The table was, again, quiet.
"Yeah, well we had 76 miles an hour over on the Eastern Shore," said Dooley, who was visiting from Crisfield.
"Oh you guys on the Eastern Shore are always doing the one-upmanship on everything. You have bigger fish, better cantaloupe and now you have higher wind gusts. When does it stop?" The attack came from Russell. The table was quiet.
"I never said we had better cantaloupe," Dooley answered. He paused for just a second, just enough to get that dramatic effect. "Better tomatoes for certain, but cantaloupe? I think Indiana gets the prize for that."
The whole restaurant went quiet.
"Indiana?" The question came from a fellow eating scrapple at the bar.
Dooley looked at the guy. "You ever have a melon from Bloomington?" he asked.
The guy stared back.
"I rest my case," Dooley announced. Once again there was a pause and then he began. "It was 76 miles an hour at 1:20. It was clocked at Jimmy Hurley's crab shack. If three horseshoe crab shells tied together go horizontal, that's 76 miles an hour. And they were horizontal for a few hours." Dooley leaned back and smiled, pleased with himself and pleased he had trounced the table. Now everyone was quiet.
"That's gotta be the dumbest explanation of what 76 miles an hour looks like that I've ever heard." It was the anti-Indiana guy at the bar. I was beginning to enjoy this.
"Hey pal," said Dooley, "it ain't where it takes you as much as it is how you measure." He was glaring. Around the table we all knew the conversation had hit that level where only a few can participate.
The guy glared back. "So you are saying one horseshoe crab for every 25 miles an hour?"
"That's what I'm saying," Dooley answered. And then he added what shouldn't have been added. "Congratulations on the division tables."
"I don't think that's right," the other said, ignoring the shot across his bow. Instead, he focused on scrapple.
It was then all of us at the table realized we'd have to go through another hurricane to find out who was right. And then the most important statement of the whole morning came from, believe it or not, Russell.
"Hey, what does it matter?"
The table was silent, again. And it had to be the fool with the scrapple who couldn't let it sit.
"Indiana? I don't think that's right either."
Pat Piper, Larry King's ghost writer, reflects from Herring Bay.
| Issue 39 |
Volume VII Number 39
September 30-October 1, 1999
New Bay Times
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