Friday, September 12, 2008


I use pretty much any opportunity to tell this story. So thanks, Ike for enabling me to recount one of my cherished childhood memories.

As I have written about before, my family in Georgia went to Panama City, Florida each summer. The summer of 1994 was no exception. I had my bags packed, my jorts on and Green Day's Dookie blasting out of my Walkman. It was going to be yet another kickass week at the beach. Our two vehicle convoy headed out from Leesburg, Georgia south to Florida. As was our tradition, once we crossed the border and found a fancy Publix grocery store we stopped and proceeded to buy a week's worth of groceries to feed 8 people. I was particularly excited because this was the week where my, erhm, less nutritionally-enlightened family members would allow me to eat all the crap I never got to eat back home with Hippie Mom. On this particular occasion, that meant that I would finally taste Snazzleberry Pop Tarts (or whatever fake fruit I selected). We were loaned the temporary use of a forklift to load the 385 bags of groceries that we purchased into my dad's truck and set off to our beachfront condo.

I remember, while flipping Dookie over for the umpteenth time, noticing some really weird looking storm clouds. Then ten minutes later, I remember seeing my cousin in the van ahead of us turning around and making some odd hand gesture that I thought was her signaling that she wanted to make a cake when we got to the condo. Turns out the swirling hand signal was actually, "Hurricane headed towards us."

Now, let me explain. My family owned televisions and radios. In my defense, I was 13 and I cared about cheerleading, Green Day and drawing things on my jorts in blue marker, in that order. Meteorology was not my job. Apparently, the storm (which never became a hurricane) was a strong tropical storm which at the last moment before coming onshore, suddenly started to intensify and was an hour or so from becoming one. It was also very slow moving which threatened flooding. Again, all of this was being discussed through hand signals and conversations in gas station parking lots between the adults while I was just hoping I brought enough batteries for my Walkman.

We got to the condo and started to unpack the groceries. All the local news was pretty grim. The winds were not too high but the storm was slow moving and was going to dump lots of rain. "Hmmmmm, I wonder when it would be appropriate to start toasting my Pop Tarts?" Then a police officer knocked on our door. Turns out there was a mandatory evacuation as flooding and a sudden strengthening was a concern. My law enforcement father tried to sweet talk the officer into letting us slip through the cracks. It didn't work. We all loaded our suitcases back into the cars and started heading north as the outer bands started coming in.

Then my Aunt Bon started lamenting the "$800 worth of groceries that are gonna spoil" as we ran away from the storm. Every motel we stopped at along the highway running north back into Georgia had no vacancies. But more worryingly, with each stop we made and the further we moved inland, the higher the estimated value of the groceries left behind became. Soon Bon was lambasting us for leaving behind "a goddamned thousand dollars worth of groceries in that condo." I had run out of batteries by this point in time and was now playing a game with my dad called "see how long he can tolerate me talking about how cute Daryl Johnston is." It was somewhere around 30 minutes into this game that my dad announced we were going all the way back home. Aunt Bon cursed him as this would most certainly mean the demise of "$1500 worth of perfectly good groceries."

The good news: we went back home, the storm passed, we drove back to the beach the next day, the "more than a thousand dollars" that we spent on groceries was not wasted as our beach vacation was saved. I was able to purchase more batteries on the drive back down to Florida.

The bad news: While we were on vacation, the storm stalled directly over my family's town which lies on the mouth of an easily-flooded river. Which lead to us coming back to everyone's house being flooded and such comedic moments as my grandmother trying to place calls directly into the Governor's mansion on a daily basis to let him know how "sorry" he was, my Aunt Bon once again having to deal with "a goddamn whole paycheck I just spent on groceries just goin' bad in there" and me getting the once-in-a-lifetime experience of canoeing over my childhood bedroom.

So basically, I like Ike. He makes me nostalgic. Also, later in 1994 I got to go to New York City for the first time and stand outside Rockefeller Center for the Today Show and tell Matt Lauer about how I survived the Flint River Flood that year. Then I got him to autograph my Cowboys Starter jacket. So basically, it was a great year.


Anonymous said...

insane! -jorsh

Anonymous said...

hey Utha is a beautiful place...

beach resort

Tanner Christopher said...

Dookie was a seminal album indeed! After cutting their teeth in Berkeley's hardscrabble Gilman Street punk scene, the Greeners forged their way into the top of the MTV pop video ranks with their incendiary singalong anthems and rama-lama guitars, never compromising their ideals, sing-handedly making the black hooded sweatshirt de riguer in the neo-punk fashion scene! Billy-Joe, the group's liliputian vocalist and principle songsmith, along with his contemporaries Mike Dirnt and the cleverly monikered Tres Cool continue to craft provacative Protest Songs and struggle against Social Injustice on their latest album, but don't forget to take some time for hi-jinks, such as watching their Video Director spin donuts in his Ferrari and wearing make-up!!

amandacobra said...

hey karl, what's up?

karl said...

Love your blog!