Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Lightning Strikes Twice

In the middle of the night, when I was very small, my childhood home was struck by lightning. I have no recollection of it, but my sister has told me the story more than once. There was a distinctive crack, perhaps a sizzle, and a burning smell. My sister grabbed me from my bed in the loft we shared and dragged me to the top of the ladder. She looked down to my parents in the combination living room/bedroom below. They asked her to put me back in my bed as they investigated the damage. I was never conscious throughout the whole episode.

The next morning, Dad determined that the lightning came in through the phone line, traveled down the metal drywall corner bead, and went to ground through a nearby electrical outlet. The brown corded phone our family rented from Bell Telephone was fried and the drywall blown from the wall.

The phone company brought a new brown corded telephone and performed some inspection. It was a fluke for sure. Lightning doesn't strike twice, or so they say.

The web site, FEMA for Kids, lists many facts about thunderstorms. One is that lightning has "favorite" spots. It will strike as much as it likes and as it turned out, our house was one of lightning's favorite spots. The little house was struck repeatedly over the course of the ten years we lived there.

This is the house we lived in from 1982-1992, aptly called "the Little House."

By 1990 we'd surged into the future, purchasing a cordless phone to replace the brown one with it's comically long cord. My dad was not about to let that phone get burned up.  If it stormed he unplugged and took the phone off the wall.

One evening, thunder grumbled in the distance and Dad said, "should I get the phone?" Mom nodded. As Dad grabbed the phone and pulled it out of the jack lightning struck. Sparks sprayed through the room and my dad performed a high speed run/flying maneuver to the other side of the house.

That helped me to develop what we'll call a healthy appreciation for lightning. Our family is probably a bit more cognizant of thunderstorms than most people. The phone company would come and look around after each event. They changed the way the line was grounded once, but nothing stopped the indoor fireworks show.

In 1992, we moved across the yard to a new house my dad built from the ground up. It was much bigger and we finally had room for more than one telephone. Lightning fried about six phones during a storm in the late 90s. The phone company paid to replace all of our phones.

After that, technicians figured out how to fix it.

Dad was putting the siding on the new house in 1990.
There was a lightning strike close to my house a few weeks ago. I resisted the urge to haul everyone into the basement which makes me think I'm nearly recovered from my lightning anxiety. It also helps that we don't have a corded phone anymore. Even if we did, you wouldn't catch me using it during a storm.

Check out more "shocking" stories, told in just six words at Coach Daddy's blog.