Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Where ya gonna go when the volcano blows?

Everyone in the Pacific Northwest is talking about what they were doing 30 years ago yesterday, when Mt. St. Helens blew its almighty top. Here's a favorite ditty of mine to put you in the mood:

Here's what I remember:
  • Hearing the adamant statements of people who refused to leave their homes in spite of the smaller explosions and constant warnings and pleadings by law enforcement agencies. The most famous of these was 83-year-old Harry Truman (and his 16 cats), who refused to leave the mountain and perished in the blast--take a look at this retro tribute to him: 

  • Going to church the morning of the big explosion and seeing the ash start to settle on everything.
  • Wearing dust masks outside to protect ourselves from breathing in all the ash.
  • Reading about the 57 people who died in the blast--most of them loggers, campers, reporters, and scientists.
  • Driving past the edge of the devastation on I-5 up to Tacoma throughout my college years (1982-1986).
  • Being able to purchase every matter of souvenir with Mt. St. Helens ash in it--I believe I still have some pottery with ash in the glaze.
  • Being famous in Portland, Oregon, for living so close to the volcano! This was before the days of all our infamous celebrities putting us on the global map (Tanya Harding, Bob Packwood, etc.).
The most vivid memory I have of that year was when my brother received horrific electrical burns from falling 40 feet out of a tree and grabbing a live electric wire. He had serious third-degree burns on his hands and feet, and he shared a room with a Mt. St. Helens burn victim when he was in the Burn Center at Legacy Emanuel Hospital. I've always wondered whatever happened to that guy--I think he was a logger. He was covered from head to toe in third-degree burns.

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