Free Writing, Uncategorized

Hurricane Hugo — The Aftermath of the Storm…September 21, 2014


Dearest Readers:

I have been quiet for a bit. Just a bit perplexed with writing…feeling as if I could not write one word ever again. Alas, I am back — on this day September 21, 2014 — 25 years after Hurricane Hugo strove to destroy the beautiful City of Charleston, SC.

So many people cannot comprehend what it is like to remain in a city during a hurricane. While it is true, I did consider making plans to leave, or even to go to a shelter, I chose to remain here in Charleston. Checking with the shelters I was told I could not bring my animals. At the time, I had two — Muffy, a sweet but hyper little mutt terrier and a small poodle named Buttons. I could not leave my animals and my husband was in the National Guard at the time, activated to work in the downtown areas of Charleston, so I decided to remain so I could check on my animals and keep them safe. Working at a university, I volunteered to assist with students. I supervised over 60 of them during the storm.

Although I have survived tornadoes, I could not understand why the media kept saying to fill your car with gas. Make certain you have cash. Have enough water to drink and enough food to eat for at least three to five days. I laughed. Why would I need my car filled with gas. Why would I need cash and food. After all, it was only a hurricane.

Little did I know!

On September 21, before the storm hit on that evening, I checked on the house, making certain my animals were cared for with water, food and the little necessities I leave for them while I am at work. I closed all of the hall doorways, left food, towels, water and all was well. My home is a brick foundation so I wasn’t concerned with flooding or a disaster. I prayed that all would be fine, and it was. On the evening of Hurricane Hugo, I hunkered down with 60 students in a historical brick building in downtown Charleston. As the rushing, roaring winds increased, the students were horrified, so we moved them from the second floor of the building to another floor where there were no windows. Within an hour, the students fears eased as we sang, told jokes and laughed. Ever so slowly the students stopped talking and laughing. I grabbed a flashlight, walked around the wooden floors, noticing many of the students huddled together — sleeping.

I touched a portion of a brick wall, able to see outside from the cracks of the loose bricks. I could hear the wind whistling…crying…screaming…I said a silent prayer. Moments later, I heard quiet. The eye of the storm. As the calmness eased my fears, I realized this would probably be one of the longest, most frightening nights of my life. How I longed to be inside my home, huddled in a blanket with my animals.

Listening to a portable radio describing the events of the hurricane, I counted the night away. I did not have a cell phone at the time, nor did we have internet capability. The building had emergency lighting, with exception it was not working, so we moved around the floors slowly while keeping our arms outstretched, carefully moving so we did not disturb the students. The room was a large brick warehouse, totally dark. No windows nearby. The only light I saw was when I found a few loose bricks and watched the lightning outside. There was a blanket of darkness everywhere.

Early the next morning as students awoke they asked me if I slept. “No,” I said. “I’ve been here all night.” One student nudged my shoulder. “I didn’t think you slept. Your makeup is still perfect.”

The door to the warehouse opened. Slowly we moved downstairs. The storm was gone. Breakfast was waiting for all of us downstairs, on the second floor. After breakfast many of the students wanted to go outside but I discouraged it. “Live wires are down, along with trees. It isn’t safe for us to leave yet.”

About an hour later my husband arrived, dressed in his National Guard uniform. He rushed to hug me, whispering for me to keep the students inside. “The city looks like a war zone,” he said.

A few hours later, students gone and the university shutting things down, I strolled slowly to my car, careful not to step on downed power lines while being ever so thankful that I had parked it in a garage. I anticipated the car having windows shattered, debris covering it. Much to my surprise, my car was safe with no apparent damage. Driving home, I was lost. The roads were hard to see due to the abundance of hurricane debris. Gone were the familiar street signs and landmarks. Roads were thick with debris, boats, cars, boards, roofs, tin, metal, tree branches and so much debris, it was difficult to determine if I was on the correct side of the road, so I made many detours while my car crawled over branches and the thick debris. I saw an abundance of tin roofs in the road. Yachts. Boats. A tracker trailer, overturned. Driving home to Mt. Pleasant was quite a challenge, and when I turned towards my home, I could not drive down my street. Trees were everywhere. I managed to park my car three blocks from my home. Carefully, I walked, constantly looking for downed power lines, snakes and other creatures.

When I arrived at home, I noticed several homes in my neighborhood were damaged. Tree branches were slammed into the roofs. A couple of homes were missing walls. I walked around the front of my house, opened the door, found my dogs, hugged them and examined my home. All appeared to be ok until I walked towards the back door. The ceiling in the living room was opened with a large tree branch resting on the portion of a missing roof. The ceilings in the back room were wet. Trails of water were on the carpeting. I grabbed the leashes and carried the dogs outside, still cautious of things I might find in the back yard. Several trees were down and my above ground swimming pool was missing — completely. The only part of the swimming pool left was some of the framework. Debris from the pool was tossed around my yard, but my home was safe. A bit injured but I was thankful we had survived.

The dogs and I returned to the house. Cuddling them in my arms, I cried tears of thankfulness. My home was safe. Many people in my neighborhood would return to discover a home so shattered they would need to live elsewhere. Phil and I had been blessed. Our home was damaged, but livable and Muffy and Buttons had survived. A bit shaken, but safe. We were blessed.

I reached to turn the TV on, to get the latest news, realizing we had no power, I laughed. I walked outside again, finding something I did not expect lying in the grass. The Post and Courier had published a newspaper about Hurricane Hugo. Wishing I had a hot cup of coffee, I opened the newspaper. Today was a new, beautiful day in Charleston, SC. Looking like a war zone, I said a silent prayer, hoping no one had died in the storm. Yes, today was a new day. A day to give thanks for the little things in life. Health. Safety. A home a bit tarnished from the storm, but a safe haven for me to rest and be thankful that we had survived.

Perhaps you are curious what I learned from Hurricane Hugo. My response is — to be thankful for the little things in life. If you live in an area where torrential storms happen, please listen to the forecast and take the suggestions shared seriously. I did not fill my car with gas. After all, after the storm, the stores would open and I could get gas. NOT. By the time stores and stations were able to open, the lines were long. Lessons learned.

Have cash. I did not. Fortunately, the university I worked for allowed us to borrow money from them. I borrowed $20.00, paying it back when I was able to get cash. Lessons learned.

Food — non perishable. Since my husband was activated with the National Guard, I did not have much food. By the third day of no power, I cleaned out the fridge, tossing everything in the trash. I managed to find several cans of tuna fish in the pantry, so I made a big batch of tuna fish. I ate dry tuna fish sandwiches for lunch and dinner until it was gone. Funny…I haven’t eaten tuna fish since Hugo!

On the third day, I discovered an old phone in the closet — the type that did not require electricity. I connected it, got a dial tone and phoned my insurance company to file a claim. Meanwhile, I phoned my sister and other family and friends, to let them know we were AOK. On the tenth day of surviving Hugo, our power returned. Three weeks later, the insurance adjuster arrived, apologizing for the delay in responding. I made a fresh pot of coffee, he walked through the house, taking notes and photographs and responded that he could set us up in a hotel while repairs were made. I smiled at him, thanking him for his compassion but I had a bed to sleep in, a home to live in while some of my neighbors were living in campers or moving to small apartments. “We’ve been blessed,” I said.

Surviving in a hurricane taught me appreciation for life. I’m still not certain what I will do the next time we are required to evacuate a storm. In 1999, during a hurricane watch we were supposed to evacuate, and we did — fighting traffic for nine hours, moving only 57 miles on Highway 41. I promised myself that if there was another evacuation, I would stay at home and I probably will.

Let’s just say — the City of Charleston is extremely limited with evacuation routes. It is a nightmare to sit in traffic, bumper-to-bumper, while anticipating a hurricane. Next time? I think I’ll stay at home!

Domestic Abuse, Free Writing, Uncategorized

Ray Rice…Let’s Just Say…He Isn’t A Role Model…


Dearest Readers:

Yes, it is a true…everyone has an opinion about Ray Rice. Of course you must know, I have an opinion too and my opinion is this story is about Domestic Violence…from both sides.

In the TMZ video, I noticed Janay Palmer (his fiancee at the time) slaps Ray. This appears to start the fight BEFORE the fight intensified after the elevator door closes. I imagine this video is edited, after all, many of those broadcasting sites have the tendency to report, and I quote, “If it bleeds…it leads…”

As an advocate against domestic violence of any type, I believe Ray Rice is finally getting what he and his wife deserves! Reportedly, Ray Rice has been suspended from the NFL. President Obama has spoken out about the suspension stating and I quote, “…Stopping domestic violence is something that’s bigger than football, and all of us have a responsibility to put a stop to it…”

I am just a bit annoyed at all of these comments. Domestic violence has been happening within the closed doors (or elevators) for generations. Most people have always looked the other way…! “They don’t want to get involved…besides…it is a family matter!” Why is it suddenly coming to the surface, and finally getting the attention of a President — NOW! Because of football???

It is a known fact that domestic violence INCREASES during football season. Maybe it’s the testosterone that gets a man’s blood rushing thru his body while watching his favorite, and violent sport — football! I certainly had opportunities last night to observe this scenario at a football bar and grill locally. Sitting at the bar with a friend while my husband and her husband watched the game, I looked around the bar area. We were the only women sitting at the bar, so it was just a bit easy to listen to these men as they fought over that silly brown ball. During half-time, the discussion of Ray Rice began, so I listened — not to the TV, but to these testosterone overloaded, booze drinking men. Among the words I heard were:

“She got what she deserved…”
“She put herself in a man’s place…”
“Why is the NFL getting involved with a situation between a man and woman who love each other…”

My Julia Sugarbaker demeanor was steaming!

I looked at one guy speaking with another guy. “She started the fight…did you see her slapping at him? She was asking for it.”

“Excuse me, gentlemen,” I interrupted. My husband shook his head and mumbled something. I suppose I was embarrassing my husband, but I didn’t care. I had a message to deliver:

“You gentlemen keep saying she got what she deserved. After all…
“She put herself in a man’s place… Obviously, you are not educated about domestic abuse. While I agree that she shouldn’t take a swing at him, she did not deserve to be knocked down. And IF you saw the video, you will notice HE did not knock her down within public settings…He waited until the elevator doors closed…and THEN the swinging, pushing, and knocking her around began…This IS what happens with domestic violence…The perpetrator waits until the doors close, and then he goes after his prey!”

The two men glared at me, along with my husband. I am certain my husband was livid that I was speaking, but this was my moment to voice what domestic violence is! Let’s just say, my husband knows that when I feel a passion about issues, I definitely attempt to voice my concerns, AND, I will not go quietly into the night!

I continued. Much to my surprise, these men were not interrupting me! “You also questioned, and I quote, “Why is the NFL getting involved with a situation between a man and woman who LOVE each other…”

“All of you need to understand, domestic violence is not about love. It is about control…jealousy…anger…outrage…never is it LOVE. A man who loves a woman, and a woman who loves a man, will not swing out at each other, slapping, hitting, shouting and knocking the partner to the ground.”

The two men glared at me again, ordering another beer. I cannot imagine why, but they got extremely quiet, choosing to gulp the beers and watch the beloved football game. I hope and pray the team they wanted to win — LOST!

I have no compassion for Ray Rice, and I have a limited compassion about his wife. Never do I understand why she married him, but that is for her to decide, and I imagine within a few years there will probably be a divorce…when she gets the courage to say — Enough is enough.” Perhaps money was a deciding factor???

Nevertheless, I do hope the scenario between the violence of Ray and Jayna Rice will open the eyes to the reality that domestic violence occurs daily in America. While there are laws regarding domestic violence, http://www.mincava.umn.edu/documents/ffc/chapter5/chapter5.html, we need shelters, venues and education pertaining to domestic violence. Unfortunately, the State of South Carolina has the highest rate of domestic violence in the nation. My, ain’t we so proud! This state appears to have the tendency to just slap the good ole boy on the wrist while giving him community service, or a night or two in the jail system. Yes, I live in South Carolina — a state — way behind the times!

As for the Rice Family — It is sad that they have a beautiful little girl. Why? Simple. She will grow up observing her parents fighting, sometimes slapping and knocking each other down. I walked in those shoes. Since I served as a referee between my parents when they fought physically and verbally with shouting and boxing matches I fought to end, and I promised myself at the age of five-years-old that I would not treat my family in such a way. It is horrible to watch your parents fighting, shouting, cursing and demonstrating what Love IS NOT! I pray that this precious child will not have to stand between her parents. One thing I did notice in the environment of our home as a child — whenever my parents were around company or family, never did they shout, curse or fight. All of these actions were behind closed doors with exception of when I was five years of age. On that occasion, my dad knocked my mother to the ground — outside, around other women. The other women simply walked away, never saying a word. As for my actions, I stood next to my dad telling him he was a mean man and I never wanted to see him hit my mother again! Never did I SEE him hit her again, but I did see the bruises!

Children need to grow up in a LOVING home, not a home filled with the monster of domestic violence. Regardless, I will still say, Domestic Violence is not LOVE! Love is gentle and kind…not control or violence!

As for Ray Rice, I pray that soon there will be another news story to broadcast, not another tragic story of domestic abuse. Maybe Ray Rice should join another long line — isn’t it called the unemployment line?

Chattahoochee Child

Life in a Mill Village During the Hay Days of Textile Mills…


LIVING IN BIBB CITY

The waters of the Chattahoochee River flow along the riverbanks of Bibb City, a small mill town located on the red clay banks of Columbus, Georgia. The harmonious water trickles in creeks, and rocks; gleaming through thick pine forests, poison ivy and vines.

Sometimes the river is rustic, a reddish-brown terracotta mixture of soil, earth and clay formations. When wet, the Georgia red clay becomes a cluster of mud, forming into shapes human hands can mold into almost anything, drying days later into hardened bricks of earth.

Sitting along the banks of the Chattahoochee River, Bibb City is the kind of old-fashioned town where neighbors speak to each other, knowing more about the walls next door than they know about themselves.
The Village my grandparents called Bibb City is framed by the setting of The Bibb Manufacturing Company, a tall brick building with a clock edged into the masonry work.

Serving as the focal point of Bibb City, the Bill Mill dates back to 1920. The Bibb, as elders called the mill, is located on 38th Street and First Avenue. Houses across the road from the mill are uniform, framed with exterior wood, painted white, sheltering the families of textile mill workers.

The tranquil, close-knit mill community called Bibb City encompasses north from 35th Street to 44th Street, and west from Second Avenue to the Chattahoochee River. The streets are narrow and winding. Mill houses consist of approximately two hundred forty-seven dwellings, located within walking distance of the mill. Most are constructed of wood, painted white, landscaped with magnolia trees, sweet gum trees and other varieties, some laced with Spanish moss.

Bibb City includes the mill acreage along with a smaller area called Anderson Village. The houses in Anderson Village are brick with interior walls of stucco. According to elders who still live in the Village, Bibb City is one of the best planned mill villages ever built, because of the quality of the residential developments and how they were maintained for mill workers.

Mill workers were recruited from blue-collar, unskilled white men and women, and young children. They were treated with respect as long as they followed the rules established by the patriarch Bibb Manufacturing Company while teaching their children to be ‘seen but not heard.’ No one employed by the Bibb questioned the mill’s authority. The domineering practices had the workers moving as if they were under textile mill hypnosis. No one was allowed to speak up, and if they attempted to voice an opinion, they were released. No questions asked. Rarely were blacks hired, and if they were, they were placed in maintenance and not allowed to live in mill housing.

Most of the homes located in the heart of Bibb City had large front porches, built high off the ground, with easy access to the crawl space underneath. When I was a little girl, Grammy and Papa lived in one of the big white houses. I found this convenient for me, choosing to build a cardboard playhouse under Grammy’s house, using large cardboard boxes I found behind Flossie’s Dress Shop as foundations and walls.

My grandparents lived in another white house in the village of Bibb City, until we moved back to live with them temporarily during one hot summer. Papa said Daddy wasn’t a good provider for us. Papa only knew Mama’s side of the story, not the real story.

By that time, the mill wanted to improve working conditions for the workers, so they offered to sell some of the homes.

The dwelling my grandparents bought was located in the middle of Walnut Street, a solid brick structure, containing two small bedrooms, a living room, one miniature bathroom, and a kitchen. The house was less than 1,000 square feet, total living space. Mill workers were accustomed to living in small settlements. We made do with what the Good Lord provided us, according to Papa and Grammy.

Papa bought a metal shed from Sears Roebuck to store fishing equipment, tools and some of Grammy’s sewing supplies that would not fit inside the house. Grammy filled the house with what-knots, lace crocheted doilies, a vinyl couch that made into a bed, crocheted rag rugs, Priscilla curtains, and simplistic pieces of thrift shop furniture. A framed picture of the Lord’s Last Supper hung on the wall over the couch. Family pictures sat on a small, vintage tea cart.

The kitchen contained a small wooden cabinet for Grammy’s mixing bowls, a metal table with four vinyl covered metal chairs, and a gas stove. When our family ate dinner at Grammy’s house, we extended the table with a leaf, so the table could accommodate all of us. I remember crawling underneath the table to get into my seat because the extended table and extra chairs filled the room, since the kitchen was so small. Although simply decorated, the little house on Walnut Street was the only dwelling where I felt completely safe. Little did I know about the City of Columbus, Georgia since we were not permitted to wander away from the boundaries within Bibb City. Papa wanted us to only date mill kids and to never want to do anything else other than church and school. When I ‘painted my face with makeup’ Papa disowned me, telling me I was a ‘painted woman and would die within the gates of Hell.’ I smirked at him. “Papa I already live there…here in Bibb City where I’m not allowed to do anything!”

Yes, I questioned the authority of my Papa and life in Bibb City. I did not wish to be a child that was ‘seen but not heard.’

Music Notes

The Top 10 Workout Songs for September 2014


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

The Top 10 Workout Songs for September 2014

Fort Wayne, IN – September 1, 2014 – Summer might be winding down, but you’d never guess it from this set of sunny songs. The top 10 list below kicks off with a remix of Calvin Harris’ ode to the warmest season and continues to heat up from there.
The biggest winner of the month is Nicki Minaj—who appears once with some help from Sir Mix-a-Lot and again alongside Jessie J and Ariana Grande. Her first song “Anaconda” is perfect for starting a workout—with its abundance of energy and attitude to spare. Meanwhile, her collaboration “Bang Bang” is the month’s fastest cut—with a tempo of 149 beats per minute (BPM)—making it ideal for running.
If your playlist is already heavy on Top 40 tracks—and you’re looking to branch out—the last few weeks have provided a number fun, accessible tracks that have been making more noise in the clubs than on the radio. To that end, you can check out the latest in Nero’s string of nightlife epics and a remix of Robyn and Röyksopp’s latest single. The hook of the latter finds Robyn announcing that she’s going to do what she wants—and then do it again. So, if you’re looking for a go-to track when your energy is running low, this blast of assertive enthusiasm might be just what you need.
Generally speaking, the competition between acts to release the “song of the summer” should have died down by this time of year. Nevertheless, the last few weeks have seen the release of one anthem after another. If you take advantage of this bumper crop of pop and get yourself outside for some exercise, you just might be able to squeeze an extra month out of this summer.
Here’s the full list, according to votes placed at Run Hundred–the web’s most popular workout music blog.
Calvin Harris – Summer (Twoloud Remix) – 128 BPM

Nicki Minaj – Anaconda – 130 BPM

Röyksopp& Robyn – Do It Again (Zoo Station Radio Edit) – 125 BPM

Nero – Satisfy – 124 BPM

Meghan Trainor – All About That Bass – 134 BPM

Neon Hitch – Yard Sale (Radio Edit) – 128 BPM

Maroon 5 – Maps – 120 BPM

Pharrell Williams – Come Get It Bae – 120 BPM

Jessie J, Ariana Grande & Nicki Minaj – Bang Bang – 149 BPM

Cash Cash & Bebe Rexha – Take Me Home (Chainsmokers Remix Radio Edit) – 129 BPM

To find more workout songs, folks can check out the free database at RunHundred.com. Visitors can browse the song selections there by genre, tempo, and era—to find the music that best fits with their particular workout routine.

Contact:
Chris Lawhorn
Run Hundred
Email: mail@runhundred.com
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Free Writing

Happy Labor Day


Dearest Readers:

Today in America is Labor Day. According to the U.S. Department of Labor — “Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.”

I have always been curious why Labor Day is called “Labor Day…” I suppose one could say — now you know!

For most of us in America, Labor Day is the last day of summer. For my family and I, it is a day of rest…to do something relaxing. I’ve encouraged my husband to play golf today. Perhaps we will grill out, or perhaps we will go out to dinner. Who knows!

I have no plans for today, with exception of getting my nails done. They really need to be clipped and repainted. What color will I use? Haven’t a clue. Perhaps coral. Maybe white. Those who will see me later this week will know. So, I suppose my Labor Day will be one to relax…to give thanks for life…to be grateful for life…good health..and family.

Today is a beautiful day in Charleston, with warm sunshine beaming down. Yes, it would be a good day to relax on the beach, but I think I’ll just take the day off…to give thanks to the United States of America, and to the freedoms we have.

Happy Labor Day!