Sunday, September 4, 2011
"Catherine! Catherine we MUST go to the storm cellar!" Miss Medders said firmly, and a bit desperately.
Catherine crossed her arms and continued to huddle under the teacher's desk. The cellar was dark, dank, and scary and she didn't want to go. She scooted further from her teacher's hands and listened as the blowing wind caused the whole building to creak.
"Honey, it'll be safer down there, this storm sounds bad." Even as Miss Medders spoke, the wind howled and hail began pelting the building. Obstinately, Catherine shook her head again. Miss Medders tried crawling in after her, but the drawers of her desk were too low.
"Catherine, please!" Miss Medders half-shouted, sounding fearful. "Oh thank God! Ray, can you help me please?" Before Catherine could react, one of the older boys had tipped Miss Medders' desk on its side, exposing her to her teacher's hands.
Miss Medders took her by the hand, but Catherine pulled back and dug in her heels. Miss Medders responded by grabbing her around the middle, tucking her under her arm and racing for the back door of the schoolhouse. Ray held the door open and soon all three of them were outside in the eerie midday darkness. The rain and hail were coming sideways and the wind gusting so hard that Ray and Miss Medders had to hold on to each other to go the few feet to the cellar.
Once they arrived at the cellar, the wind practically threw the door open for them and Miss Medders dumped Catherine unceremoniously onto the steps. She, Ray and two of the other bigger boys were fighting against the wind to close the cellar door. They got it shut and the cellar was pitch black. Catherine heard her teacher say, "The latch doesn't seem very strong, we'll need to hold the door closed."
Catherine shook on the steps. In the darkness, she could hear her classmates breathing, but could not see any of them. The cellar door was rattling hard on its hinges as the furious wind outside shook it and loud, unidentifiable thumps and bangs were sounding all around outside as the storm raged on. Catherine screamed. There were no words, just volume as she gave vent to her terror. She screamed and screamed until several classmates clapped hands over her mouth. Then, she cried.
Suddenly, it was quiet. The thumping and banging had stopped. The door was no longer rattling, and although she could still hear rain falling, Catherine didn't think it sounded dangerous. A few minutes later, cautiously, Miss Medders opened the door to the cellar.
"Oh, my word. Oh, my God!" Miss Medders said, and Catherine knew her teacher was crying. Running out of the cellar with the other student, Catherine gasped. Their school was gone. All that remained was some scattered bricks from the piers of the foundation. The huge oak tree from in front of the school was twisted in half and crumbled on the ground.
"We could've all died." Miss Medders said in a hoarse whisper. Catherine surveyed the remains of what had once been their school and silently vowed to never go to school again.
This is a story from my Mimi's childhood. She was either in first grade or kindergarten. Even today, in her mid 80's, she hates storms with a passion.