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Bud Grossmann’s
Words of the Week
for the Week of
October 20, 2019
Published as a Gramma Letter
dated October 4, 1994.

© 1994, 2019 by Bud Grossmann.
All Rights Reserved.

Reply (1994)
  Reply (1994)
© 1994 by Bud Grossmann


Tuesday, October 4, 1994

Dear Gramma,

      In the early hours of this day, a tidal wave, created by an earthquake under the sea off Japan’s coast, began moving across the Pacific toward Hawaii. Our family first learned of this event at 6:35 a.m. when a teacher from David and Elizabeth’s school called to tell us classes had been cancelled. The tidal wave, of unknown proportions and power, was expected to arrive at the shores of our island in just four hours. Other waves of this kind have taken dozens of lives and destroyed hundreds of homes here.

      As civil defense sirens began to wail, I went to the kids’ bedrooms to inform them: “No School Today.” Our seventh-grader, David, woke instantly, more alert and more cheerful than on any other morning of his academic career to date. “YESSSSS!” he declared with delight.

      Our house is a few blocks from the ocean, at the edge of what is called a Tidal Wave Inundation Zone, so we quickly loaded a few emergency supplies and precious possessions—including a bundle of letters from you and Grampa—into our van and headed for high ground.

      But first, a stop. One of our neighbors is an elderly woman living alone with her two dogs. We knocked at her door and made sure that she ...

Author’s Note:

The rest of my October 4, 1994, letter to my grandmother is, for what I consider good cause, unavailable today. You can read it tomorrow, if you wish, when the Rio Community Library opens for business. I hope, however, that you might be interested in the remarks Gramma dictated to my father on the 11th of October, 1994. That letter, printed below, is probably not included in the Rio Library’s collection.

      If I may, I’d like to point out to you that my father is now ninety-three years old, the same age his mother was when he and she wrote back to me about the kerosene stove explosion. Dad’s handwriting is somewhat shakier now, but he is still sharp. I marvel that Dad, when he was just about the age I am now, produced one hundred and seventy-nine words of clear expository prose, in ink, with no misspellings and no significant punctuation errors in what evidently was his first and only draft. My own drafts for even a brief Words of the Week often run into the dozens; my typos and misspellings, largely forgiven by my computer, run into the hundreds.


Date 10-11-94
This letter is in reply to
BG’s letter of October 4.

Dear Buddy,

      I am glad your tidal wave fizzled out and your house wasn’t smashed to matchsticks. Your story of your search for shelter made me and my secretaries think of a few natural disasters. Here are some we remember:

      I am glad to get your letters, and will have your dad answer this one tonight, or it probably won’t get answered.

      I can’t think of any natural disasters that happened to me but the family remembers when we lived on the Cumming’s 40 and raised chickens. We kept the little ones warm with a kerosene “brooder stove”. One time it went out and when I went into the coop to relight it, it exploded and blew me out the door and onto the ground. I wasn’t much the worse for wear but it was unhealthy for the little chickens.

      Years ago there weren’t any storm warnings other than arthritic knees and one’s own knowledge of what the weather might do. Had your tidal wave happened 50 or 100 years ago, no one would have known about it until it struck.

      I’m glad to hear you survived the tidal wave and also it sounds as if your family has recovered from the illness your folks said you had the last time you called them.

                                    Love to all,

Grandma Grossmann

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