Earl, we hardly knew ya!

Friday, September 03, 2010

Earl, we hardly knew ya!

I wasn't around for the "Long Island Express," referred to here abouts as "the '38 Hurricane."

But I sure remember others like "Carol" and "Hazel" in 1954 and "Diane" a year later, and while I was up in Connecticut for "Hazel," I was running around with my father in "the Mut­tering Monster," our '36 Buick, helping kith and kin haul out boats in Remsenburg.

"Carol" was an especially exciting time; we sat at the end of Tanner's Neck Lane and my dad used the "Big Bertha" lens on his Leica to take photos of waves breaking above the top of the Dune Deck Hotel.

When we went up to the old airport to check on Bellanca N8N at the height of the blow... measured at Suffolk AFB next door at 115 mph in gusts... our family plane was riding it out, but right next to it a little Aeronca "Champ" was flying in place, unmanned, tethered by too-loose lines on its wings and tail.

(Somewhere I have 16mm footage of the little two-seater several feet above the tarmac, taken with our Bolex. When we checked back the next morning, it was still in place, but the spine of its fuselage had been snapped by a sudden drop.)

My personal "favorite" hurricane experience happened on my birthday in 1960 when I spent about 16 hours straight pulling people off Dune Road in the long-bed jeep Bernice Rill and Helen Elfmont had for The Busybodies. It was a blast, in part because my mother had let it be known that I loved a certain type of pie, and that I was supposed to be some­where else celebrating.

(I ate my weight in lemon meringue pie that day, which weight I'm still trying to take off half-a-century later.)

Hurricanes since then have sometimes gener­ated as much excitement, but never as much fun as those 1954-1960... though Patsy Eileen Doyle and I spend the night of "Belle" in '76 on Dick Simon's screened porch on Nickerson Lane in Remsenburg while huge trees quietly toppled over all around us, the ground too soaked from five inches of rain to hold them against the 75 mph winds.

Now Eastern Long Island seems to have stared down ol' "Earl," which blew itself down from a Category 4 hurricane to a Category 1 tropical storm.

Still, at 7:31 pm, we received an automated "Red Alert" from Suffolk County... my initial thought was that missiles were incoming... advising that even as a Category 1 storm "Earl" could be dangerous, and offered other emergency preparedness tips.

Semper Vigilans!


Debbie Tuma... an East End gal who should know better... earlier this evening reported in Newsday:

"Earlier Friday, Westhampton Beach Mayor Conrad Teller said no evacuations were planned for the seven-mile stretch of oceanfront beaches in his village because the hurricane was not expected to hit them directly."

Confidence is high that Mayor Teller didn't tell her that Westhampton Beach had seven miles of oceanfront.

Then again, perhaps crafty ol' Conrad has secretly annexed chunks of Dune Road into the Village in an effort to increase our tax base.


1. Michael Jacobs said...

Conrad's reference may well have encompassed Westhampton Dunes, part of the Westhampton Fire District, as the WHBFD would be charged with the responsibility of evacuating Dune Road from the Quogue line to Cupsogue.

That's one explanation... another is that Ms. Tuma has become afflicted with the Newsday syndrome.

2. Douglas Rill said...

Stumbled across your blog (actually my cousin Anne) when you metioned your 20th birthday in my mother Bernice Rill's jeep.

O sweet honey mustard, Douglas! It's been over 50 years. Nice to hear from you.

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