Friday, March 4, 2011

My Life: Into Town

THE ASSIGNMENT:  
Water gives life. It also takes it away.
Write a short piece - fiction or non-fiction - 

inspired by one or both of these statements.
Word maximum is 600.

 








~~~~~~

It was August of 1955.  My Aunt and Uncle were in the cab of the old white Ford pick-up truck.  All five of us girls had taken our spots in the bed of the truck.  We were heading into town.  Near the tailgate, for easy removal, were the milk cans and the boxes.  The old huge milk cans had been thoroughly cleaned and were filled with water that we had gotten from the artesian well.  My Aunt had gone shopping the day before, buying as many canned goods as she could afford.  The non-perishables were now crammed into the heavy cardboard boxes that my Uncle had gotten from the butcher, a long time friend of his. 

My Aunt and Uncle wanted all of us to be together.  We could tell by their tension that this was no ordinary family emergency.  After all, President had declared Connecticut a disaster.  There had been two hurricanes within a week that had caused so much rain, in such a short time, that the Naugatuck River had flooded it's banks.  We had relatives living in Waterbury who needed our help.  And so we drove...into town.  That's what they called it back then.

As we passed the Middlebury line, we could feel the anxiety and tension building.  Once we were in Waterbury, at the top of  Sunnyside Avenue, it was a site beyond belief.  It was horrific.  Down below us lie Riverside Street which paralleled the Naugatuck River.  The city had been virtually divided in half.  I remember seeing the water halfway up the arcs on one of the bridges.  One of the three bridges stood no more.  The Freight Street bridge was gone.  It had been swept away by the ferocious water...lost and gone forever...as were the dreams of many.  Raging and still roaring, the powerful water seemed endless.  Homes had been swept away by the rushing waters.   People died.  Some buildings remained half crumpled like the lives of the people who had lived there.  To me, it looked like a war zone.  Devastation was everywhere.

A man I called Grandpa, lived in Waterbury as well as another Aunt and Uncle of mine.  The three family home they lived in was located in what was known as the Brooklyn section.  This section was one of the hardest hit areas.  Taking in the disaster as we rode, we headed down Congress Avenue turning onto America Street then Russell Street.  They were so glad to see us and we them.  Tears flowed as freely as the water.

We were bringing water from our home in the country to some of the victims.  We gave as much water as we could to the people who lived in the neighborhood.  We brought food and fresh drinking water in an effort to help.  Some of these people were without water for close to a month. Over the next few weeks, we made many trips into town.
 
Although I was only eight years old, I remember it like is was yesterday.  A precious resource, water gives life.  It also takes it away.  

~~~~~~

15 comments:

Lisa @ Two Bears Farm said...

I can't imagine the impression that must have made on a kid to live through and aid in a natural disaster like that. Great writing!

Nancy@A Rural Journal said...

This is such a powerful post, JP. I imagine it had quite an impact on your youthful mind at the time and caused you to appreciate such simple things as water and food. Well done! :)

amygrew said...

Great writing! Very descriptive!

Mel said...

Good story. Great attention to detail.

ArtMuse Dog and Carol said...

Good Morning ~ great post ~ Water is definitely very powerful! artmusedog ^_^

texwisgirl said...

Powerful memory and very well shared with the rest of us. Thanks for this.

Pamela Gold said...

This is one of those prompts where you knew exactly what you were going to write immediately. Your description is tremendous!

Jane said...

Great writing J P, Such attention to detail! That was well worth the read. Can't wait until your next post. Blessings jane

Shell said...

How strange that must have all seemed to an 8 year old!

Jack said...

It must have been quite the sight.

Jennifer said...

I love how though surrounded by flood water what everyone really needs 'in town' so much in this is drinking water. It's like the conundrum of being caught out in the snow with no drinking water.

CDG said...

That was really powerful, you seldom think of rural folks coming to the aid of urban people.

It must have been amazing, awful but amazing, to witness something like that.

Mandyland said...

This is amazing. I couldn't help but think how odd it would be for an eight year old to make that trek and how thankful those people must have been.

Ratz said...

This is an amazing story. I can see almost every part of the story in colors. It must have been so hard- that time.

Ash said...

Such an incredible story. I can't even imagine how happy the victims were to receive your fresh water.

Water is a gift. One, I'm afraid, a lot of us take for granted. Thank you for the reminder.

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