Like many of you, I get publications from the universities from which I graduated. In my case, that would be Miami University and the University of Dayton.
Ordinarily, there’s not a whole lot that interests me in these magazines that, I believe, are designed to encourage graduates to reach for their checkbooks, in my case for Mother Miami and those Marianists of Dayton. Somehow, my universities seem to have forgotten that they’ve already received quite a bit of money in exchange for my bachelor’s and master’s degrees.
I suppose my cynicism as to why I get these magazines has something to do with my ambivalence as to what’s inside them. After the decades that have gone by since I was on either campus, much of what’s behind the covers of these attractive publications seems not so relevant to me.
Unless it’s glancing at the class notes to see if there’s a mention about someone I used to know doing something noteworthy or looking at the “Dearly Departed” section to see if someone I used to know had a final noteworthy moment, I just don’t spend much time leafing through my universities’ magazines.
However, in the last UD magazine, I did take some time to read an anniversary-type story on the Great Dayton Flood of 1913. I’ve always been a sucker for historical pieces, whether I see them in print or on The History Channel, which I find myself these days watching far more than my once-beloved ESPN.
The Great Dayton Flood was a natural disaster of epic proportion, one that not only devastated the Gem City but several other towns along the Great Miami River. Of course, Lima had its problems with flooding in that late March a hundred years ago, but not to the extent that our neighbors to the south had.
In Dayton, over a three-day period, the rushing waters tore houses from their foundations and enveloped many of its citizens and swept them into the afterlife. In all, nearly 400 people in the Dayton area died. Damage was well over $100 million, and those are 1913 dollars. A mind-boggling half-trillion gallons of water rushed through the area, an amount so massive it would take two full days for the same amount of water to flow over Niagara Falls.
As I read the piece and looked at the pictures from so long ago, I couldn’t help but think of how lucky I’ve been in my life, most of which has been spent in Lima, to not have to suffer the effects of a natural disaster anywhere close to those elsewhere, where lives have been inexorably altered by such cataclysms.
Since 1958, when the Grindrods of Chicago became the Grindrods of Lima, not once have I been any more than inconvenienced by meteorological adversity, when comparing what I’ve experienced with those in other places such as Hurricane Sandy-devastated New Jersey.
The one blizzard in my time was in 1978. Since I never lost power and surely didn’t have to teach my Allen East students English or coach my freshman roundballers for several days, I look back on the time almost in idyllic fashion.
I bonded with neighbors on the 1100 block of West Wayne in my first house I bought and paid $107 dollars a month for the privilege of owning, and enjoyed the feeling that somehow the snow insulated me from life’s adversities for a while. It surely doesn’t seem all that long ago when my neighbor pal John Conley and I grabbed our sleds and made the four-block snowy trek down Cole Street to Pangles Market on Latham to replenish the milk-bread-beer rations.
No doubt, the ice storm and power outage back in 2004 was far more challenging for me, but it was certainly survivable. The worst that happened was sleeping in my outdoor winter clothes for a couple days.
As for the super derecho that happened in late June of last summer, aside from a few hundred bucks of roof damage, some food I had to toss because of the loss of power and the inconvenience of being a bit sticky inside without the AC for a couple of days, my life went on pretty much uninterrupted. I’m guessing Sandy or Katrina victims or those whose lives have been destroyed by tornadoes, tsunamis, earthquakes, mudslides, wildfires and the like would swap their real catastrophes for any of my alleged “catastrophes” in a heartbeat.
So, whenever I hear from folks who want to point out what is so very wrong about Lima, I think even more about how fortunate my time has been during my 55 years here. While there are some who will complain that our city is dull and that nothing ever seems to happen here, I have one reply.
When it comes to the forces of nature, here in my second hometown, dull suits me just fine.