As I write these words, the gentle patter
of raindrops can be heard outside my sunroom window. My thoughts
turn back to old Newark…….
Do you remember how everything started to smell dusty in your old
backyard just before a Spring rain? It was almost like you could
smell the rain coming. Our dog used to poke his beagle face into
the air, sniffing and wiggling his nose.
"What's the matter boy? Smell something?"
Off he would go to smell all sorts of places in the backyard he
normally never visited on sunny, bright days. It is true you know,
as the barometric pressure drops, odors become stronger--so I guess
Spike was following his nose, so to speak.
How about the leaves on the trees, the way they used to curl back
with the wind, as the sky turned that ominous thunderstorm blue-black.
All the while, that great "whooshing" sound as leafy manes
swept back and forth in the approaching storm winds.
As a storm loomed, mothers would start calling their children
"Harry where are you!?"
Mom would scurry outside to collect the drying clothes on the
line and gather me and my two sisters in one place in the house,
huddled as the crashing thunder would ripple through our small bodies.
All appliances were turned off, as were the lights. Scary and exciting
in one package! And there was always that unexpected last bright
flash of lightning and ear-splitting blast of thunder…..when
Mom would announce that the storm was finally over. I guess mothers
have a way of knowing such things.
Ever see a summer shower rain on one side of the street only?
Can you remember how the street would steam-up after a brief shower?
Or maybe you can remember a series of days when the rain came at
just about the same time of the day? I certainly can. One August,
it rained every day during one week at exactly 3:30.
On those dreary summer days when no big rain came to clear the
sky, and it just drizzled, we would play on each other's front porches.
Board games came out and marathon games of monopoly, checkers, cards,
and whatever kept us quiet and out of trouble. There were no TV
channels of any interest to watch during the day, or video games
to numb our minds. When it rained, you used your imagination.
When the rain stopped, we ventured back into the streets and played
until we were interrupted again. We survived Nature's fickle ways.
Did your street ever flood during a downpour?
How many times did you come out after a rainstorm to play in the
pools of water that were created, floating pop-sicle sticks, bits
of wood or maybe even leaves?
Ever get a flooded basement during a really rainy storm? I remember
that one vividly. We never had any water, and then one Autumn during
a prolonged storm, we got a load of water come in. I had to block
off the boiler and brush the water down the storm sewer trap. Dad
and I stayed up all night with that storm.
Going to school in those yellow rain slickers…..remember
that? You got to school all sweaty and wet on the inside anyway
because the darn slickers did not breathe. And those monster rubber
boots that did double-duty as snow boots. You felt like Big-Foot
lumbering to school on a rainy day.
Sometimes a hurricane came to town or one of those angry Nor'easters,
pelting the windows for hours, swirling stuff around in the yard,
and maybe breaking some roof shingles. If you had a flat roof like
many Newark homes had, you might even get some water through the
roof. That was always serious. That meant a tar job was not far
off, and those were expensive…… unless you did it yourself.
Ever have to patch a tar roof? Tough work on a hot day!
Ah, but those vegetable gardens loved a good rain, especially
thirsty tomato plants. I can still see all those bright green gardens
in my old neighborhood. Everybody had home grown veggies. Life was
good in Old Newark.