Sunday, May 16, 2010

Where were you when the mountain blew?

May 18, 1980 8:32 a.m. Do you remember where you were and what you were doing that day? We lived in Vancouver, Washington.  I worked for the Columbian Newspaper as a route manager and I was heading down Andresen hill after making sure my paperboys had delivered the Sunday paper.  It was not unusual to see the mountain spouting. In fact it had become quite a regular event, so much so that it was almost routine, like "oh, it's raining again."  But this eruption was unlike any of the ones that had preceded it.  This was the big one that filled the sky with ash as far as the eye could see and swept debris down the hillside, leaving destruction in it's path. I hurried home and nudged my husband, who was still sleeping.  My parents who lived to the North had heard what sounded like a horrible sonic boom and were frantically trying to call to make sure we were okay.  The phone lines were hopelessly jammed and they didn't get through until later that day.  Of course we had to go find the best vantage point for this grand spectacle.  This was our playground.   We used to go fish the streams and hang out at Merwin lake.  The guys would ride their motorbikes all over up there.  After the blast it looked like a desolate moonscape.
It seems unreal that 30 years has past.  So many things have changed. I became a mother. We moved, changed jobs and went about our lives.  The mountain changed too.  Rebuilding, regenerating and coughing up steam now and again.  The wildlife and trees have returned.  So have we.  We no longer play on Mt. St. Helens.  We have new playgrounds. We still live in the Pacific Ring of Fire. Some day Mt. Hood could rumble back to life.  I remember Pop scoffing at the reports that Mt. St. Helens was going to have a major eruption..."ah, it's never gonna happen!"  The lesson here is never underestimate Mother Nature.  She'll win every time.


Christine said...

I was little (almost 5 years)& camping with my family in south eastern BC. We woke up & our tent, cars, and everything were covered in a layer of white ash. It's probably one of my earliest memories. It was crazy, and has earned me a healthy fear/respect for volcanoes ever since!

I can't believe it's been 30 years.

kristi said...

We lived up in Renton and I was almost 9 years old. It was a beautiful day and the neighborhood kids were all sitting inside watching the tv and wondering if we would see any ash. We only got a fine dusting, we felt we had been ripped off! That summer as we drove to Spokane to visit my grandparents we could not believe the pile of ash on the sides of I-90. I still have a bottle of ash on my mantel!
The Seattle Times had a great article about the mountains rebirth in this weekends paper!!

Sheila said...

I was in grade 7, so 12 years old. We were close enough up in the Vancouver, BC area that it was scary to us. I still worry about earthquakes here.

Thanks so much for commenting on my blog. :)


Unknown said...

I wasn't born yet. My parents were living in Wenatchee, WA. My mom had to brush ash off her car two days later in order to go to the hospital to have me.

Summerset said...

Um, let's see, I was 8, so I would have been in 3rd grade or so. I remember it, but living in FL at the time, it just seemed very far away and unrelated to me as a child.

Kat said...

I just caught up with blog reading, Mary! You have such great info and stories to tell :) . Now, to answer the question, I lived about 8 miles south of Harrisburg in PA at the time. I was in 8th grade, and my class was keeping track of Mt. Saint Helens for many months until that one memorable day when it blew. It was such a big deal at the time, and I'll never forget it.