During those torrential storms two weeks ago, two things happened. The first, I proved my sometimes stupidity/overconfidence in a way that almost got us killed and secondly, we had a lot of fun as a family.
When I went to go pick up the little guy after work, the rains had already begun picking up. My parents asked if we wanted to stay and wait the storm up, but as is often the case, I thought I knew better and wanted to get on the road to head back home. (I was under the impression that this was a storm, nothing big, and didn’t need to worry too much.)
Well, as the rains intensified, so did the winds, thunder and lightning, and in only the short amount of time it took me and my son to get around the block from my parents’ house, I was unable to see out of the windshield in front of me due to the rain and winds. With that, I shouted to the backseat “okay, buddy, we’re heading back,” and went around the block to return to my parents.
It was not that easy. In what was a span of 60-90 seconds from when we pulled out of their driveway, a large portion of a tree had fallen and was now blocking the street, making it impossible for me to get to their house.
Even scarier was the realization that had I still insisted on leaving and did so 60-90 seconds later than I did, we could have been seriously hurt.
So, I tried to go around the block and get to their house from the other direction, but to no avail, as that block was also blocked by a downed tree. A detour across several blocks finally got me to their street, but the rain had seemed, for the time being, at least, to have passed.
I said ‘to hell with it,’ and just decided if the rain was letting up, we’d keep on going home.
Also easier said than done.
Avoiding our usual route due to the high altitude, and massive amount of trees, I opted for another route, that still, unfortunately, had many, many trees before we could get to the highway. Along the way, we were dealing with slow drivers (and I know they were being cautious, but in that situation, I just wanted to be home as quickly as possible), more downed trees, downed wires, and some flooding. I was weaving back and forth to avoid these things as if I was in a movie or video game, only it was not nearly as thrilling when it’s from the first-person perspective.
I’ve mentioned how the little guy is learning to clap lately. Well, at one point, while trying to avoid the chaos around us, I looked into the back to make sure he was okay. He must have just been done with a clap, because from my perspective, his hands were out, palms pressed together, looking as though he were praying. Talk about not filling me with confidence in a time of crisis.
However, he was a courageous little buddy and did great. He even ended up falling asleep by the time we hit the highway.
We were much later than usual getting home, but when we got there, we found that the power all across town was out. It must be the way of this high-tech era we live in, but people were wandering out from their homes and onto the sidewalk, as if released from prison or some magic spell.
Meg had some candles going in the dimmer parts of the house and we stuck to cold foods like salads for dinner.
I checked on our elderly neighbor, who told me he had already had dinner and had his highball, so he was all set. Boy, I hope I’m that self sufficient when I’m in my mid 90s.
When the little guy tuckered out and went to bed, Meg and I brought some candles upstairs and read (her, magazines and a book she’s been working on; me, a trade paperback collection of Spider-Man comics. I can’t believe I’m over 30, a comic fan and have never sat down to read Spidey. It was some good stuff, especially form the 60s. But I digress…)
As I read by candlelight, I realized why so many people in colonial times wore glasses – it’s quite the task on the eyes to read by candlelight as it gets darker and darker out.
When the street finally went black, no street lights to shine, we blew out the candles and called it a day. I awoke in the middle of the night when the power turned on again, and chuckled at the sight of the entire neighborhood lit up as if it were full of life, even though everyone was fast asleep.
While I certainly found the drive home a bit nerve-wracking and appreciate the convenience of a working refrigerator, I have to say that having the power out for the whole evening was a lot of fun. No television, no computers, no hums of the street lights, and no mindless time wasters. Just time with each other, real time, without glancing over us to see what’s onscreen or on our phones. And when our heads hit the pillows, you just felt sort of right with the world.
What can I say, I like the quiet.
It could be the earlier (some clichés would say simpler) times evoked by radio, or maybe it’s the ‘theatre of the mind’ that I find so much more creative than having someone spell it out for us in a film or TV program.
Whatever it may be, it transports me to a time before every minute of our day was accounted for, before everyone was constantly ‘plugged in,’ when families would sit around the radio together for their news and their entertainment.
Yet, it is modern technology that allows me to take this step back in time. I downloaded two apps to my smartphone recently, one called Radio Spirits and the other, Vintage Radio Lite. Both were absolutely free.
Each day, Radio Spirits has two radio programs, sometimes a comedy, sometimes a mystery, you never know, from the Golden Age of radio. I love that randomness. It’s like when audiences tuned in and what was on that night was on. Some nights you’ll want to listen, some nights, it’s a show you’re just not interested in.
Vintage Radio Lite is more of an on-demand service. You can search through their catalog of hundreds, if not thousands of programs in a myriad of genres, cue one up, and listen away, complete with original commercials.
I’ve always been a fan of old radio shows, listening to radio dramas on my radio Walkman on public broadcasting Sunday night in elementary school, having stumbled upon them by accident. As a teen, I discovered old cassette tapes of The Shadow radio programs, and in recent years, I’ve often been found with a CD of The Shadow or old Superman broadcasts in my car for a dark, rainy car drive.
With these apps now on my phone, it’s actively created a new type of family time in our house. It’s not an everyday thing, but there’s plenty of times where we don’t feel like watching television, but would like something on in the background. So, we ‘tune in’ via the app, and as we eat our dinner, listen to the phone/radio and chuckle to the likes of Fibber McGee and Molly, Our Miss Brooks, or the Alan Young Show. I’m also quite partial to the Jack Benny Show, and, as I said, any time Orson Welles played The Shadow.
My sister-in-law sometimes jokes with us that our son will be confused as to what era he grew up in with our love of old movies and radio, etc, etc. While I don’t think it’ll be that bad, Meg and I hope that growing up around these things will give him an appreciation for what’s come before, and make him realize just how far things have come. It’s important to us not to lose the past, but preserve it and honor it, as we move forward to the future. We hope he will do the same.
A little modern technology, letting us appreciate and preserve the past. Pretty neat.