Rainy Times

by Harry T. Roman


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 home…..

"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.


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