... the hurricane of '38
John and Mary Cahill are two delightful people that I visit almost every Sunday morning. In discussing all the tragedies around the world, these two 95 year olds (Mary was 95 last December and John turned 95 in September - she'll tell you she married a younger man) remembered where they were during the hurricane of '38.
"I was in the Merchant Marines at that time. On that morning I had gone down to the Union Hall which was located just below Scollay Square. As I left the Hall to go home a friend of mine came out with me. He had left a suit to be altered at a tailor's in the area and as I walked along with him I said, 'Smell the air. If we were down in South America or the Gulf of Mexico, I would say there was a hurricane coming.' He agreed with my assessment but who ever heard of a hurricane this far north - not us.
"Crawling over downed trees and branches, and warning a neighbor not to go near a sparking live wire, I finally made it home. Just before the electricity went off my father had heard the news that we were indeed having a hurricane."
"After work at W. T. Grant in Boston my friend Peg and I decided to go to the movies to see "In Old Chicago" at the movie theater(she can't remember which one). It was raining, miserable and very windy so we thought it was a good time to go. So there we were, nice and warm and comfortable, watching as Mrs. O'Leary's cow burned down Chicago, with no thought about what was going on outside.
"What a surprise--the rains were coming down in torrents and the wind was fierce, but we made our way to the subway stop and took the train to Everett Station. Peg got off at Sullivan Square and I stayed on to Everett Station. There was no bus heading toward Maplewood Square, but there was one to Ferry Street, Malden Square which I took. I thought I could get a bus there but, no, nothing was running. I went Kelleher's taxi office and they told me no taxis could get through.
"One of the drivers asked where I was going and he said that the main streets were all blocked off but he thought he could get me home by going the back way. He took me as far as he could but when a tree blocked the street he had to let me out. One thing I remember was how pitch black it was when he left.
"I had to crawl around tree trunks and under branches, fell a few times and finally made it my front door. Fortunately, I did not run into any live wires. I couldn't find my key so I had to ring the bell. When my mother answered she was glad to see me, but not too happy with me. 'What in the world did I think I was doing going to the movies during a hurricane.'
"And Peg's mother was not too happy with her because she didn't bring me home with her as she didn't live too far from Sullivan Square."
They will never forget the Hurricane of '38.
November 4, 2005