On Earthquakes, Fires, Robbers, and Tornadoes

I grew up in earthquake country.  On the first day of Kindergarten in Mrs. Rogers’ Devonshire Elementary room, we practiced the ‘Drop’ drill where all the kids got down on the floor and held on to the backs of their necks.  The other kids giggled, so I giggled too.

After lunch, we learned not to tinkle on the tiles and the ‘Stop, Drop, and Roll’ drill in case we caught on fire.

That evening, I went through the bedtime routine:  I pretended to brush my teeth, I put on an oversized t-shirt, and I only tinkled a little bit on the tile next to the toilet.  I walked down the hall and I began to panic.  What if there was an earthquake while we slept?  What if there was a fire?  What if I caught fire?

My heart raced.  I didn’t tell my parents or siblings of my fears.  I squeezed my eyes tightly and counted the seconds until sleep overtook me and I awoke whole.

I may appear devastatingly handsome and confident, but come nightfall, I was afraid.

As I grew and learned of new world evils, I thought of more things as I walked down the hall to bed:  What if we were robbed at night?  What if I was kidnapped?  What if I got AIDS?

I dreaded going to bed from my first day of Kindergarten until I was about 34 years old when I started sharing my bed with my wife and had to put on a brave front.  My fears were always unfounded.

Last Saturday, we put Zach to sleep in the Pack-n-Play in the basement.  The weather service said a storm was coming and tornadoes were likely.  He went to sleep about 9.  An hour and a half later, the tornado watch turned into a tornado warning and my wife and I went downstairs also.  Because there are windows in our basement, we woke Zach up and went to the bathroom.

Zach is having way more fun than I am.

We tracked the storm as it touched down in Wichita and came closer.  It hit our corner gas station.  And then the power went out.

We heard sirens and the roar of the storm.  Zach whined and fidgeted in the tub.  He tried to turn the water on.  We played trucks and we sang songs, candlelight flickering around.

Time passed again.  The sirens stopped.  We put Zach down and slept in the basement.  The power came on a few hours later.  We checked the path of the tornado.  It had missed us by less than a mile.  Zach cooed from his Pack-in-Play.  We took him out and, for the first time, he climbed the stairs, unaware the night held anything but fun in the bathtub.


About Jimmy

The stories herein are about a sentimental 80s child who cried at every showing of ET (the sad part where he was lying in the wash) and his families, then and now. His wife, son, parents, and siblings play their parts well. They have their exits and their entrances. Sometimes their exits are sad, but not as sad as ET.
This entry was posted in 2nd Grade, Baseball, Elementary School, Life, memoir and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to On Earthquakes, Fires, Robbers, and Tornadoes

  1. inkline says:

    🙂 I love you.

    • inkline says:

      If Zach is anything like his daddy, he’ll probably lord it over his younger siblings that he went through this tornado experience. Even though he can’t remember it.
      It was kind of exciting. And I’m thankful God answered our prayers and kept us and others safe!

      • Jimmy says:

        I too, am thankful. I lord it over my sibs that I went to Lake Tahoe when I was six months old. To this day, they’re jealous.

  2. terry1954 says:

    that was awesome. loved it

  3. Glad it missed you! My daughter is 17 and still remembers the one time, when she was 3, and we ran from a tornado in our car! Fun times…

  4. Mama J says:

    Love how you managed the storm so calmly with your little one. Our responses are so important to our kids!

  5. Dianna says:

    Wow. What an amazing post. I’ve lived through hurricanes, but never a tornado. That must have been so frightening. I’m glad you all came through unscathed. And your wife’s comment is so sweet…!

  6. Ron says:

    We don’t have earthquakes in Florida, but we do have sinkholes which swallow up homes, cars and businesses now and then. They have big appetites.

  7. Wow — what a crazy night! Love the shot of you and Zach sitting in the tub – he could not have been more unaware of what was going on — that’s a wonderful place to be in childhood. 🙂

  8. 1smiles says:

    I’m glad that you have learned to put on a brave front. It was when I had children that I learned that I really had stuff to be scared about.
    Excellant post.

    • Jimmy says:

      I remember when I was young and had to protect my little brother from seemingly dangerous things, like my sister. It made me quite a bit braver.

  9. Dor says:

    You had me with your words, “I dreaded going to bed from my first day of Kindergarten until I was about 34.” Your words are all about life as it is with humor thrown in. Fear creates heroes and you are definitely a hero!

  10. Jess says:

    Thanks for visiting my blog :). I can relate to your writing – I didn’t grow up around tornadoes, but now live in a tornado zone with several very close calls in the past year – lots of time spent waiting it out in the bathroom with my husband and kids!

  11. Kat Stewart says:

    Good post! I come from a small town close to Lake Erie, and we used to have crashing great thunderstorms all the time. Only one tornado touched down, ripping right down the street where I lived. Sounded like the gods bowling! Thankfully, no damage. Now, I’ll tell you what frightens me…since I live in SoCal..not earthquakes, actually, but.not having my tennies near or not being able to put them on during an earthquake. I wanna be able to, if not run away, at least miss the big shards and chunks of stuff on theg round when it stops rolling. My warning to you: Leave a pair of tennies in the tub! ;0

  12. Oh and by the way, I have nominated you for a Versatile Blogger Award!

  13. granbee says:

    So wonderful you guys were completely safe! The smiling green froggie on the seat of Zack’s pants just says it all about the joy after the night of fear! You guys did such a great job with Zack! I am sure he will not fear to go to bed until the age of 34! See? our life lessons do help us with the next generation!

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