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Fifty Ways of Looking at Tornadoes

B.J. Hollars Break Away Book Club Edition ePub

1.

For nine months now, I have been trying to write my way out of disaster. I thought it would be easier than this. Yet no matter how many times I report on that April afternoon in Tuscaloosa—when my wife, dog, and I hid in our bathtub—still, the storm will not leave us.

2.

Once I made them by hand. You can make one, too. Pour a teaspoon of salt into a cylindrical glass and spin the spoon clockwise. Or counterclockwise. It doesn’t matter.

3.

I am not the first to have fashioned one. In 1955, New York University’s James E. Miller placed a pan of water in a circular box, positioning air slits on either side. The water was heated, emitting steam, and as additional air blew in, that steam grew into a cyclone.

4.

Do not be fooled by the aforementioned examples of scientific ingenuity: humankind did not invent the tornado, nor has it improved upon the design.

5.

Prior to creating them, we created warning systems against them. In October of 1883, Edward S. Holden issued a call for an “apparatus” that might provide towns a few minutes’ warning before a tornado’s impending touchdown. He suggested a highly elaborate network of bells, even created a prototype—a wired bell that rang upon exposure to a particular velocity of wind. Perhaps inspired by the recent invention of Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone, Holden envisioned spools of underground wires connecting house to house and person to person, ensuring safety for all.

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14 The Fierce Battle for the City of Regen

J. Ted Hartman Indiana University Press ePub

14

The Fierce Battle for the City of Regen

What a wonderful night we had sleeping in good beds in Cham.

Just before we pulled out that morning, our mess truck arrived and served a delicious breakfast of French toast. The mess section was composed of four men who rode in a two-and-a-half-ton GMC truck with their stoves and equipment. They were armed with only light weapons and passed dangerous spots many times to bring hot food to 140 men in Company B. They deserve great credit for their dedication and fearlessness.

About 8:30 on the morning of April 24th, we pulled out, retraced our steps to the highway, and then turned south. Our platoon was in the lead again. We reached the edge of the village of Miltach and coiled while the artillery got set up. Then we proceeded on our drive. Art was spotting for us and the artillery in the overhead Cub plane. He really did much of the work this day while telling us about entire convoys of Krauts on the roads to our sides that were trying to escape from us. He was in constant radio contact with the artillery and directed them to fire on those enemy columns. At one point, he contacted the Air Corps and asked them to send P47 fighter planes to strafe the columns. The planes arrived shortly thereafter, swooped down, and released their rockets just as they reached the Krauts. It was an incredible sight. By destroying the enemy on both sides of our drive, the Air Corps and the artillery made it possible for us to continue our primary advance. Somehow we knew, though, that we would meet the enemy that day.

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Chapter 35

Marianne Boruch Indiana University Press ePub

Chapter 35

It freaked them out, big time. Frances had style. She could knock people flat. First that poor thoughtless woman in the hippie-beatnik van. Now these guys, who were a mixed-up bunch, that’s for sure. But they had at least one thing in common: they revered Ned. Now they remembered it all. They did think he was a regular Einstein. He had told them things.

Things like: You can live forever and ever if you choose.

Things like: I can teach you to fly. It’s all in the small of the back.

Things like: Dreams are the only real thing. You’re only dreaming that you’re awake.

Things like: You can come back from the dead, if you want to.

Things like: But who would want to? Just look at this world.

Somehow those guys knew about the accident. They were all over Frances about that. And sincere. What a fucking waste, they said. But probably there was a reason, they said. He’d clearly be reborn immediately at a higher level and do fantastic shit in the next life. What level or life that was, not one of them seemed to know. I flashed on the nearly luminous see-through frog in that cave then, deep down, below Missouri. The smallest of those frogs, its tiny lungs billowing out, filling up, then giving it all back to the dark. That would work for me, next time I had a chance.

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Buckethead

B.J. Hollars Break Away Book Club Edition ePub

Once a boy drowned at a summer camp. This was June of 1968. It was early evening, a dinner of fried chicken and green beans already breaking down inside the boys’ bellies, and as their counselors shouted numbers to the sky (“98 . . . 99 . . . 100!”), the campers hid, determined not to be found in the all-camp game of hide-and-seek.

More determined than most, ten-year-old Bobby Watson slipped away from his bunkmates and wandered toward the floating docks on the shores of Blackman Lake. He blocked the sun with his hand, allowing his eyes to refocus on the best hiding spot of all. There, glistening at the edge of a dock, was a Kenmore refrigerator. It was powder blue, round-topped, complete with silver handle. Bobby—smitten perhaps by the peculiarity of a refrigerator in such a strange locale—headed toward it.

Bobby knew as well as everyone else that the waterfront was off-limits to campers except during open swim. The head lifeguard—a broad-shouldered, sunburned man—had made this abundantly clear on the first night of camp (“You do, you die”). But it was a game of hide-and-seek, after all, and Bobby, a boy who wanted simply to hide, convinced himself to duck beneath the peeling fence. He jogged toward the fridge, peeking behind him to make sure he hadn’t been spotted. He hadn’t. No sign of him except for footprints in the sand.

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Chapter 55

Marianne Boruch Indiana University Press ePub

Chapter 55

That business of the body, unveiling it with such low-key ceremony—or none at all—to a cast of, if not thousands, at least more than one: what to think about that, when one is 20? When I was 20, I guess I mean. Or any age, if the truth be told. My experience with this sort of thing was, as a friend of mine liked to say of any near-miss chances, slim and none.

The slimmest, in fact, was closer to none in grade school—late spring, the very end of third grade for me—behind the house, in a back corner of our yard. One of the many kids from across the street—Ricky Vacarello probably, a highly advanced fourth grader—suggested we all retire there after supper to show what we had. He meant we were to pull down our pants and note the varied view. But it turned out so quickly managed that I barely recall anything. Except, naturally, that we had done that, the circle of us squeezed in behind the bushes between two rusted trash cans. The scene floated now in my blurry past. A mortal sin, for sure.

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