THE STORM CELLAR

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Since yesterday was Mother’s Day, I had had my mom on my mind most of the day.  That’s not to say that Mother’s Day is the only time I think of her; heavens no!  However holidays and Mother’s Day evokes memories from years past.  Other occasions do as well, such as last night when I climbed into bed glued to the TV to keep abreast of the tornado in Texas headed straight to Louisiana. It brought back memories of another bad storm when my mom was terrified.

I must have been ten or twelve years old and we lived just a few miles south of Atlanta, Texas on a farm Mom (Mamie Martin) and Dad (Clyde Stanley) had rented.  It was on that acreage that my Dad had my three older brothers growing peas and cucumbers to sell to a cannery in a nearby town.  It was the same farm where I fell from the magnolia tree in the front yard and landed upon a metal curtain pleater which pierced my foot.  The same place where we raised chickens and while gathering eggs, I almost put my hand on a snake coiled up around eggs in the chicken house.  It was also the same house where my brothers, my two-year old sister and I welcomed the newest member, another girl, to our family.

You know how animals can sense a storm brewing long before it arrives?  Well Mom was the same way.  She was always terrified of storms and by the time she got through telling us how bad it could be, we were all shaking in our boots!

That particular night the storm grew more intense; the rain more torrential.  We had no gadgets like today to track bad weather.  No TV, iphones or internet with radar images and of course the radio was filled with static and so it was all but useless.  It was then Mom decided we had to make a run for it if we were to survive.

Luckily the Balcoms down the road had a storm cellar.  I had passed the Balcoms’ house many times and seen their cellar which was located in their front yard but never dreamed one night we would all seek shelter there.  The door was almost flat to the ground and the top was covered with grass but I had never been inside.  Daddy knew Mother would never calm down if we didn’t visit the Balcoms that night.  We made a mad dash to the car, got soaking wet and headed to safety.

Once there, the Balcoms heard our desperate screams, opened the door and let us in.  The steps went straight down; the only light was from a coal oil lamp and the door was secured on the inside by a heavy weighted chain attached to a post.  The cellar wasn’t very large and by the time we all got in with the Balcoms, all you could do was find a spot on the bench inside and wait it out.

The glow from the lamp glistened on the walls where shelves of canned goods that Mrs. Balcom had put up from her garden were stored.  And there was a jug of water if you got thirsty.  At least if we had to stay a while, we would have something to eat I thought.

Then my imagination turned to what else could be hiding in the darkness…… Snakes?  Spiders?  Other creepy crawlers?  I pulled my feet from the earthen floor up to the bench and sat very quietly and close to Mom.

The storm raged for what seemed like hours with thunder claps breaking the silence inside the cellar unless someone said, “that was close”, while rain seeped through the crack at the doorway.  Finally it passed.  There was no more thunder or howling wind; just the sound of a gentle rain. And, as by some act of God, Mom turned back into her normal happy self.

While lying in my bed last night there was lightning all around.  It was then the cable went out for a short time.  Before it came back on I had tried both my cell phone and tablet only to find the radar map wasn’t loading properly!  Suddenly I felt just like Mamie!!!  But if worse came to worse, I wouldn’t spend the night in a cellar but would retreat to the closet which was supplied with water, a few snacks, a flashlight and sleeping bag.   Plus the only creepy crawling things inside would be me and my two Shih Tzu dogs!

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