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The summer storm of 1998

May 21, 2008 - Jim Bartholow
We're coming up on the 10-year anniversary of that big storm that passed through the area (June 28, 1998) in just a few minutes of fury that downed trees and power lines all over town. That morning, it was HOT and MUGGY. We felt the conditions even more that day because that's the day our son, Jamie, and daugther-in-law, Angie, got married. It was supposed to be an afternoon ceremony, but they decided to get married in the morning when the air was just heating up to the low 90s. The reception was in the Betsey Mills' gym, which was nice and roomy for our friends and relatives, but like a steam bath because there was no air conditioning. After the reception, we headed to Applebee's for dinner, to unwind and catch up with my sister who came from Chicago. Jamie and Angie were leaving town for their honeymoon when the sky quickly darkened. Then the wind started blowing and the deluge. I couldn't even see the Marathon station next to Applebee's! In about 5 minutes it seemed, it was all over and the sun was out. And so was the power. We paid for dinner and headed over to the Knight's Inn where my in-laws were staying. No power there either. We heard a tornado possibly hit along U.S. 50 in West Virginia and worried about the newlyweds since they would be going that way on their honeymoon. Turns out they were in the drive-through at McDonald's at the same time we were at Applebee's. Anyway, they were safely on their way. As the night passed we realized our dog needed to go out. So we started the trip to our home near Marietta Memorial Hospital. The trip usually takes about 5 or 10 minutes. On this night, the trip took nearly 90 minutes. Roads all over were closed either by trees or power lines. There were no lights. There were sirens all around us. Our house sits on top of a hill and we expected to see more trees down. But we actually had power and there were just a few limbs down. I had left the air conditioner on all day, and it was OK, too. Across the valley you could see how the strong winds snapped off the tops of trees at the base of Harmar Hill. It was truly a lucky day, in more ways than one.

GAS PRICES With gas around $4 a gallon this Memorial Day, I like to tell people about how I used to charge $5 a person (round trip from Athens to Cleveland) every other weekend to see my then-fiancee Leslie. With gas a 28 cents a gallon (this was in 1971 and '72) I'd fill up at the Certified station in Athens, make the weekend trip and still have money for Leslie and I to go to the drive-in movie. Today, the trip and a movie (good luck trying to find a drive-in today) probably would cost $60 or $70. Yikes!!!!!!!!


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