Saturday, June 26, 2010

The LuLac Edition #1219, June 26h, 2010



This week marked the 38th anniversary of the Agnes Flood. I had a conversation with a flood victim who had just graduated high school.
Q: ’72 Grad. Me too.
A: Where?
Q: St. John the Evangelist in Pittston.
A: Huh, Central Catholic.
Q: Both schools, gone.
A: Yeah.
Q: Where we you on June 23rd?
A: I was working at Fowler Dick and Walker for the summer. Then I was going to go to Ithaca for the fall semester.
Q: What was that day like?
A: Well the whole week was really, really wet. It poured rain and that river kept on rising.
Q: Where did you live?
A: Third Avenue.
Q: When did you evacuate?
A: The night before. We went to relatives in Dallas. We thought we were covered because we put everything on the second floor. It didn’t matter.
Q: Was your home wrecked?
A: Completely. I thought my mom was going to die of a broken heart. But she hung in there and we did some rebuilding. My sister and I actually had a hard time selling the property a few years ago when my parents were both gone.
Q: Why?
A: The rebuilding of their lives, their home was a testament to their generation.
Q: After the flood what was your life like?
A: Well I quit the store because I got a job with the contractors cleaning up houses. The money was good but I worked like a dog. I actually went to school for the winter semester. So economically my life was better. My parents were very, very tense. Worried about money. I never saw that before. There was real fear in their lives after the Flood. It changed them.
Q: You like politics, did the flood help shape your political life?
A: Big time. My parents were staunch Democrats but they thought Nixon was the man after he visited. Even during Watergate, they were for him.
Q: And Dan Flood?
A: My dad to the day he died had this old campaign button with a big mustache on it that simply said “Dan”. Never got rid of it.
Q: Best memory of the flood?
A: The way people pulled together. That impressed me because before the flood, our neighborhood was pretty insular. But tragedy is a great equalizer. When my mom and dad passed, even people who had not moved back came to their wakes. On a less serious note, I loved when the Stegmaier Brewery started giving out chilled canned water to flood victims. Maybe it was the fact that it tasted so damn cold and I was so damn hot that summer, I don’t know. But I still think of that every time I see a can of beer.
Q: Worst memory?
A: The smell, the mud, the dirt and my girlfriend dumped me that summer because I just wasn’t around.
Q: Do you regret that? Do you see that as a casualty of the flood?
A: You’re kidding me, right?
Q: Just asking.
A: I think she married a mailman or something.
Q: Well, rain, sleet, and snow and all that stuff.
A: Yeah but not a flood. Not like that one man.
Q: It will live on in everyone’s memory that was involved.
A: It will live on in infamy.


At 10:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When you rememeber the Agnes Disaster, please try to remember the likes of General Frank Townend, Nick Souchik, Walter Wint, and others at what was Luzerne County Civil Defense who stayed on the job before, during and well after the flood to protect lives and help people deal with the multipal problems they had to face when the water was gone! I had the honor of working with that staff as Public Information Officer as well as a reporter during that time and got to see, first hand, their committment to the people in our area. David DeCosmo

At 10:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! I had no idea how close to the surface all those memories were. I am tearing up just thinking of those days. The piles of ruined furnishings, the smell of rotting food mixed with mud. And the people doing their best to clean up homes and businesses. I remember the Red Cross and Salvation Army free lunches. Man, a baloney sandwich never tasted so good. This was a terrible time, but it was also one of those rare times when government pulled together and made a positive difference in people's lives.

At 9:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I grew up in Scranton, and was in the army & stationed in Alabama when the flood happened. It was a weird, strange feeling I had while watching Walter Cronkite describe the pictures of the flooding. I came home about three weeks later for a weekend (A round-trip from Huntsville in uniform was less than 40 bucks)and the Avoca airport was like a war zone, soldiers, equipment and supplies all over. I still get chills when I see old footage or pictures....


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