Monday, May 29, 2017

Hurricane Gloria

In late September of 1985 Hurricane Gloria was making its way up the eastern seaboard. Raymond and I knew it was coming and we decided that it would be cool to go see it first hand. Now anyone knows the best place to see a hurricane up close and personal is near the water. Now the Wilmington area is not exactly like the Florida Keys or the Barrier Islands found along the coast. The best place we could think of was the war at old New Castle. At this time we were both out of school, over 18, but still living at home and very much had to keep the wishes of our parents in mind.

I was the only one with wheels, which at the time, was a 1973 Dodge Van that my dad passed along to me during the summer. The van was broken down when he gave it to me. I had to do a brake job on it and repair a broken distributor. I figured these out with some advice from the auto parts guys and my own mechanical talent.

We each told our mom we were going to be at the others house when in fact we were out storm chasing. Gloria was not a particularly powerful storm but it was the only one we had. A decent hurricane only comes along only once every handful of years and this was a first as mobile, adventurous, slightly stupid, young adults. We had to be out in the middle of it.

The water at old New Castle was not really that impressive and there were not giant waves, no trees bending over, or anything like you see on the news when they show big hurricanes. What we did find was miserable weather and a TV news crew from the local cable TV news. They came right over and wanted to interview us and we were more than happy to be interviewed. It was the classic, who are the idiots out in the hurricane segment and we were the idiots. We did make it onto the news which we hadn't even considered to be an option. The water at New Castle was just exciting and did not feel dangerous so we hopped into the van and drove over to Riverview Park in Pennsville, NJ.

At Riverview the wind was pushing the water a lot harder and the rain was being driven as well. It seemed more like a hurricane. Of course it was too messy outside to do much of anything but we sat in the van watching the water and talking. The big mistake was shutting the motor off. When it was time to go the whole thing was soaked and would not start. I knew we had a limited battery to crank the starter so we called on the CB radio to see we could get some help. It came in the form of a town police officer who looked at us like we were a couple idiots. Of course we were.

He drove Raymond to the local auto parts store where he bought some starting fluid. A quick shot of that and the motor started right up and we were on our way. Raymond told me about riding with the police officer as we drove away. He said the officer didn't say much but did say "that was pretty stupid" to which Raymond replied "yes sir." Later on there was more pretty stupid to deal with when our mom's saw us on the news.

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