Seriously. I was eight. And, in all my 34 years of living, I don't think I've ever been witness to anything so dramatic, scary, or mind-boggling...
I present you with the letter E in the ABCs of your home state blogfest.
I love sports, playing them. I like to think I have a natural ability to play. I am not really the kind of person to sit down and watch sports on television. (I do like to go to games, though.) Softball is by far my favorite sport, though it is one I had to practice at. And practice I did. I was always in the yard with my mitt, with my glove, with my bat. I wanted to play. There is something about that sport that I love. And I wanted to play.
In the town I lived in, there were no try outs, if you wanted to play, you played. We were divided by age. Good or bad, everyone had a shot, everyone got to play, no one was always on the bench. That didn't matter to me – I wanted to be good.
I was at softball practice on this day. We were, if I remember right, just starting, so we would have just been throwing the ball back and forth to one another. There was a weird sensation, as if the ground was shaking. I remember looking at the ground, and then the sky. And then to my left. And then I saw it.
The grain elevator across the street exploded.
Fire shot out of the top of this cone-shaped building that had always been right across from the ball field. I didn't even know what happened in that building. Someone had to go to the hospital, he had burns all over his body. There were news people there. We were ushered away, back to our homes. Back to the isolated safety of living in a small town.
And that is my memory of the elevator explosion. Softball practice. Looking down. Looking up. And seeing fire in a place where I knew fire was not supposed to exist.
For this blog, I tried to do a little research on it. I found myself in circles, asking questions of my dad, of a friend who lives in Nebraska. Memories are shaky, at best. I googled all we could collectively think of. Being a small rural area in the 80s, there isn't a lot in the way of archives. And no video exists, at least that I can find. I know one exists, at least that one did exist. Who knows if it is still alive!
What I did find, though, was a date. May 15, 1985. That is when it happened. I feel strange possessing this information. I am not sure why.
What I can conclude about this feeling is that I lived in a time and place where there was no time and place. The only place was where we were. As children, we had bicycles and free reign. The place was wide open, it seemed huge at the time, but in reality, the town is less than a half a square mile in area. We had a swimming pool and ball fields. We had two parks and a playground at the school. We knew everyone and everyone knew us. Time meant very little to us. There is a town whistle that blew at 7am, 12 noon, and 6pm. That was how we knew what time to go home. I didn't even know I was eight when this happened until now.
So to now, to have a date feels, I don't know, funny.