So William and Kate got married. Big deal. I refuse to write about it. Maybe in ten years I’ll use it for one of those “this date in history” blogs. Today, I don’t care. And even if I did, they could have at least scheduled the damn thing so you didn’t have to be up at 3:00 am to watch it. Like that really matters though. There are at least 10,000 video feeds online right now that you can watch, and a bazillion pictures, but you won’t be able to say you saw it live. All you “I just wanted to see her dress,” people, you, got up for nothing. I’m still pissed my invitation got lost in the mail.
So what else is going on? Let’s see….Tornadoes are trying to wipe out the Southern United States. Can you imagine 160 tornadoes out of one storm system? I remember in 1979, Cheyenne, Wyoming, had one of the biggest and most damaging tornadoes in Wyoming history. It was the first tornado in Cheyenne’s history. And, you guessed it, I was there. Actually, I was playing golf in Laramie the afternoon the tornado hit, which is 40 miles to the west of Cheyenne. More about that in a minute. The tornado missed my house at 6969 Manhattan Lane in Cheyenne by five blocks.
They said it formed and touched down just west of the airport, went down I-25 and took the airport exit. It moved across the airport, turning over two C-130 aircraft, and damaging two others, then continued southeast carving out a 1/2 mile swath across a subdivision known as Buffalo Ridge. It caused $22 million in damage to the planes, airport and hangers. One-hundred forty houses and 17 mobile homes were destroyed with another 325 homes damaged. I was in that last number, having damage to my roof and fence from high winds. But other than that, damn lucky.
Tornados are not normal occurences in Wyoming. They’re rare for the most part and usually not a lot of damage associated with them. In case you haven’t heard, Wyoming is the least populous state. Cheyenne is not even the largest city, but is the state capital. So unlike the Alabama tornadoes, there were no large population centers to be demolished. I can still remember looking out over acres and acres of debris and personal belongings strung out for miles. There would be a refrigerator just sitting out in a field, two miles from where it was originally plugged in.
There were a million stories from the storm. One little girl was saved because the shard of glass flying through the air imbedded itself in the Teddy Bear that she was hugging. It would have killed her. One picture I remember distinctly was the one of my co-worker standing in the basement of what had been a bi-level house, talking on the wall phone. The phone still worked, but the house and its contents were completely gone. Good advertising, though, for Mountain Bell, where we worked.
So I was playing golf in Laramie with some friends when the dark clouds moved in, and quickly. We were on the back nine, on a hole that ran parallel to a street, and was also close to the home of one of our foursome. Within seconds the rain started and we decided we would sit it out in the golf carts. I had seen large hail before, but what happened next people still don’t believe. The hail started out the size of marbles, then grew in size to golf balls. Within minutes it was the size of baseballs and when we decided to steal the golf cart and drive to my friend’s house a short distance away, the hail was the size of softballs. I’m not kidding. The fiberglass roof of the golf cart was pulverized. It could have killed us. Then it stopped almost as quickly as it started. Believe it or not, we drove back over to the golf course and finished the round.
There was no hail reported with the storm of July 16, 1979 in the official reports, or any other storm that day in Wyoming. I guess we should have called someone.
The memory of the storm and its aftermath was brought on by the recent devastation in Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia. My heart goes out to all those who have suffered a loss. I have a stepson and his family living in Tennessee and thankfully they only suffered a 24-hour power outage from the storms.