May 17, 2009

Off Topic: 29 Years Ago Today

May 18, 1980 is one of my earliest extremely vivid memories. I was only 5 years old at the time, but I clearly remember the sky becoming pitch black in the middle of the day. We were living in Richland, about 200 miles from the eruption of Mt. St. Helens, and by noon it was as dark as a moonless midnight, with hot ash falling from the sky.

I was freaked out enough by that alone, but it was a Sunday, and after just having come from church my Mom went into complete meltdown mode. She was convinced that this was a sign of Armageddon, and that we should prepare for the Rapture, which was surely imminent. Thankfully she was wrong on that count, but the following days and weeks were still surreal... People walked around wearing surgical masks, and the shoveling of ash like it was snow was a common sight.

Perhaps physically and psychologically effected by the eruption, the Seahawks went 4-12 that fall*.

What are your memories of 5/18/80, fellow old crusty bastards?

*team might have just plain sucked anyway.


Bill McCready said...

First, great blog.

Second, Steve Largent - man among men.

Third, I got home from church that day, and all the way from Scio, OR, saw this RIDICULOUS ash cloud above the horizon to the north. I was freaking out as we drove down the road to our house, watching this 'weather system' like mass to the north. Got the TV on, watched the news, saw the river rolling houses down stream, etc... Unbelievable. To this day, May 18 takes me back. Hard to believe that was 29 years ago. Just flew to Seattle two weeks ago, saw the hole... still gives me chills.

I can even remember the next year having football practice canceled due to ash fallout from a later eruption that blew south. Another football/Mt. St. Helens connection.

Thanks for the reminder, and keep up the good work.

UTR said...

I was 13 years old living in Chehalis. Roughly 40 miles North. I remember a buzz going through church that Sunday morning and finding out that the mountain had erupted. We got home and I could stand in my backyard and see the huge column of ash. It was surreal. Oddly enough it wasn't until the next Sunday in a much smaller eruption that the ash came our way. It was weird to wake up in the morning when it should be light and it is still dark, then realize what is going on.

I've been back there several times camping in the last 5 or 6 years and it is an awe-inspiring location for me, no doubt due to the personal connection of having seen it happen.