A Flood of Memories
LONDON, ONTARIO - For a daughter, three grandkids, one brother and sister-in-law and a passel of friends who are coping with the inundation in British Columbia, here’s a 1987 feature that I’ve hauled out of the archives, commemorating the golden anniversary of the great London flood of 1937.
At dusk on spring evenings during the melting days of winter runoff, I like to settle in my study chair by the window or take a cup of coffee out onto the porch and watch my neighbours. As folks come home from work, their kids come tumbling out of the house and they all walk together up to the breakwater at the end of the road to have a look at the rising, rushing river. Old timers make their sole appearance on the street for the day, calling out to more nimble neighbours for a progress report or shuffling down the road past the dead end sign and mounting the five wooden steps to the top of the embankment, looking out over the long black railings to the swollen Thames below, charting its speed and depth and breadth, remembering the spring of 1937. “Yep,” they decide. “It’s mighty high all right.” And then they go home to supper.
It was fifty years ago this spring when the river last flooded. Everything ended and started at once – a long and heavy winter, a rapid and voluminous runoff, then two days of steady, heavy rain. By two p.m. on Tuesday, April 27th, 1937, water was already starting to spill over the banks; first in Broughdale, then here in London West and down by the Coves, then over in the flatlands by the Wellington Street Bridge. Fanshawe Dam hadn’t been built yet (and wouldn’t be for another sixteen years) and, sometime between five and six o’clock, the volume and pressure were dramatically increased and the low lying areas of London were inundated by a steadily rising flood that didn’t crest until the early hours of the next day when the river had risen a full twenty-three feet above its normal level.
My mother grew up in London West but moved up to Maitland Street with her father about six months before the flood. My father grew up in Wales and arrived in London West just in time to get soaked. There’s a kind of cosmic symmetry at work in all this which is still reflected in their conversation – their uncanny ability to complete one anothers sentences. My mother was born here but it was Father who got baptized.
HERMAN: Were you ever both living on Wilson Avenue at the same time?
VERNA: We never actually lived across the road from each other, did we?
JACK: You moved out . . .
VERNA: Just before you moved in.
HERMAN: But you were an item at the time?
VERNA: Oh, I think so.
JACK: Yes, but according to you, there was no rush about it; it wasn’t a very high priority. That house on Wilson was the final time we rented. From there my folks put a down payment on a house on Emery Street.
VERNA: Which was a long way from the river.
JACK: One flood per life is sufficient. My sister had just got married and moved out so it was just me and my folks.
VERNA: I was living on Maitland Street with my dad and working at the Kickerknick factory.
HERMAN: Kickerknick or Kickerknit?
VERNA: Kickerknick Knitwear.
JACK: I was working at Cliff Robinson’s butcher shop by the corner of Dundas and Adelaide. Anderson’s tuck used to pick up my dad every morning and take him out to their farm where he worked in the slaughterhouse. Old Syd Dart came to pick up Dad but Dad said he didn’t feel that great and didn’t think he’d go to work that day. And Syd said, “I don’t blame you. It’s raining anyway." But I went to work and about two in the afternoon, they told me I’d better go home, that water was spilling over in London West and I might be able to do something.
VERNA: And you picked me up.
JACK: In the ’29 Pontiac. We went down as far as Blackfriars Bridge. I could see some water on the west side so we pulled over and parked it up on the side of the hill so we’d have something to come back to.
VERNA: Wasn’t that clever of us?
JACK: We crossed the bridge . . .
VERNA: Which I don’t remember at all . . .
JACK: And by the time we reached Wilson, the water was up to our knees. We waddled south a few blocks, up the front steps and into the house and there was my mother sitting in front of the space heater. Very comfy and not about to leave.
VERNA: I thought they should have gone out then and there.
JACK: Ah, you know the British and their houses . . . the ‘castle’ sort of thing. They’d taken furniture and mattresses and rugs up to the attic. Anything they could carry. And Father had this bottle of brandy with him and figured he’d ride out the storm in the attic. It would have to be pretty damn high to bother him.
VERNA: There was no moving either of them.
JACK: So we got out of there and I went over to your place.
VERNA: Me and my dad helped out by taking in refugees like you and Jean and Kay. In a two room apartment. Where’d we put you all?
JACK: It seemed they were going to be all right but a few hours later the flood just came pouring through the back yards. It came flooding down the storm cellar steps and broke the basement door wide open. It made a hell of a noise and shook the house up pretty good.
VERNA: Was that when your mother decided to leave?
JACK: Well, it snuffed out her gas heater so she didn’t feel all that determined to stick it out anymore. A row boat pulled up to the front door, calling for evacuees and she got on board. They went north on Wilson to gather more passengers and stopped at Les Dixon’s grocery store and he was out his upstairs window, perched on the roof and holding his dog. The chap in charge of the boat said, “No way, there’ll be no dogs on this boat.” “Then you won’t get me neither,” said Les.
VERNA: Good for him.
JACK: Then everybody in the boat starts hollering, “Come on, let him bring his dog. Won’t take up any room.” So Les got to take his dog. Now Mother wasn’t much of a boating enthusiast and she got very nervous when they went south across the Wharncliffe Bridge. I guess the current was something else and all those people in that tiny little boat. Anyway, they got her across and she spent the night in the Riverview School [now the Children’s Museum].
VERNA: Meanwhile back on Wilson . . .
JACK: The water continued to rise and a couple hours later, it started lapping up the attic stairs. It was about four feet deep on our main floor so the canoe just came right through the front door and halfway up the attic stairs and a fellow hollered up to see if anybody was still there. Father decided he’d better go at that time – maybe he’d run out of brandy – and he was taken to the Armories for the night. They let people back into the neighbourhood a few days later to clean up. I think it was the Friday. Comparatively speaking, we came out of it pretty well. We’d taken most of our stuff upstairs and we were only renting. And you know, it was kind of fun in a way.
VERNA: Only you’d say that.
JACK: It was a gorgeous day. The sun was shining and it was warm and we took the chesterfield out on the front lawn and it was just steaming in the sun there. Everybody’s out there and everybody knows everybody and we’ve got this common problem . . . It wasn’t all that bad.
ALTHOUGH MY MOTHER may have moved out of the neighbourhood by the time the flood hit, many of her oldest and closest friends went through it. These friends, ranging in age from seventeen to twenty in 1937, were regular visitors to our home all through my growing up and many of them still assemble every other Wednesday night in one anothers living rooms, chatting and laughing for hours at a stretch, swilling coffee and tea and consuming more cakes and cookies than they ought to. I tracked down these ladies one at a time in the week between Christmas and New Year’s and while they stuffed me with leftover Christmas treats, I set up my tape recorder on their kitchen tables and threw out the odd question which would give order and clarity to their abundant reminiscence.
Let’s start with Kay Goneau who lived at the time of the flood on Rogers Avenue just three doors west of my place.
KAY: When my parents got back, they just shoveled the junk out. You couldn’t save anything. The mattresses were shot, the furniture had had it. It was just a disaster. There was a line of muck on our walls, very definite, which indicated the water in our house had risen to about nine feet. It was heartbreaking. I’d bought a new white coat and never wore it. I dyed it red but it gave me a funny feeling and I never cared for it. We had a dirt basement and that all just rose up through the floorboards.
The floors all heaved up and the linoleum was curled. That china cabinet was all we saved. It was built on high legs and must’ve been made of real wood – no veneers. That came through it. As long as we continued to live there, there was cleaning up work to do. It seemed you’d go to use anything and it was shot; the water had ruined it. Anything we’d stored in the basement – pictures, keepsakes . . . anything in our drawers . . . letters, all my mother’s handmade quilts, all our bedding.
I think I was too stupid to get depressed myself but I did feel awful about seeing everything my mom and dad had worked and saved for all those years get wrecked. I was young then, going out on dates to dances, enjoying life. It didn’t hit me as hard as the others. My mother was sick from that point on to the end of her life. Every spring she’d get really nervous and her blood pressure would go up again. She had diabetes so bad she’d go into comas. The doctor told my dad, “You’ll have to get out of here. As long as you’re here, your wife’s going to be sick.” Dad wasn’t a complainer and tried to keep things going.
After the flood, you couldn’t give away property in London West. They lived in that house for six more years until Dad finally sold it for $2,700 and bought this place, brought my mother up here and she only lived six more months. All her life my mother wanted a red brick house with hardwood floors. This was her ideal home if she could’ve lived but I guess we don’t always get to live our dreams out. My dad was never able to retire, had to get a job as a night watchman at London Life after he was pensioned off from the CPR at $44 a month. The flood was a major financial setback from which he never recovered.
I still get homesick when I visit London West. I never pass Rogers Ave. without looking down the street. About three years ago the old place was up for sale so we went and had a look at it just to be nosy. I hadn’t been in it for more than forty years so we made like we were interested in buying it. It hadn’t changed too much. They’d built a new addition on the back but the overall layout was the same. I was amazed. You don’t forget. You go in the room you slept in for all those years . . . it was kind of spooky. My mother always had a big fern stand in the front window. I hadn’t thought about it for years but standing there that day, I could picture it again exactly. And they were asking $55,000 for the place. Can you imagine?
SHIRLEY JEFFREY was living with her parents and siblings at 28 Argyle Street. Though they emerged from the flood relatively unscathed, she has some interesting stories to tell.
SHIRLEY: We all spent the night at my Aunt Olive’s except my father who stayed in the neighbourhood all night, keeping an eye on things. We were on the fringe and didn’t get it all that bad except our basement and the floors. In my grandfather’s place on Blackfriars Street, it came right up to their eaves. We’ve got his old dining room table that went through the flood. They had a big country style kitchen and the table was completely set by the time they had to leave. When they came back a few days later, the table was still perfectly set but there was this ring of muck right around the rim of the table. So it had floated all the way up to the ceiling without tipping and then settled back down where it started.
We had this neighbour a few blocks down with a huge fish aquarium and we used to go down there for something to do and watch those beautiful fish for hours. And they all went in the flood once the water came over the top of the aquarium – just got flushed out the door. They said he’d spent about a thousand dollars on those fish but he never kept any after that.
It was around Easter time and I remember I’d bought this three piece grey suit – just like Lady Astor – and I’d left it hanging on the hall closet door. When we heard how the water was rising that night, I figured I’d lost it for sure. Dad came over to Aunt Olive’s quite late to see how we were all getting along and I asked him about the suit and he said, “I happened to see it so I moved it upstairs for you.” So then Mom said, “Did you see my Easter hat? What about that?” And Dad said, “I didn’t see an Easter hat, Elsie.” We finally found it about a week later and, while we’d been hurrying everything upstairs, we’d piled about six mattresses on top of it.
The flood seemed to mark a big change in my life. A year and a half later, the back end of our house burned down and, believe me, I think a fire is more devastating than a flood. With a flood, you only get a mess as far as the water goes. And with a fire, you get it everywhere. And then in ’39 the war started. In a way, it all marked the end of my childhood existence. Those were hard facts of life for me to have to accept – real disappointments. Reality, I’d guess you have to call it.
"JEAN AND PEGGY NORTON lived at 75 Albion Street with their family. Their story, more than most, highlights the confusion and the danger that were rampant in London West during the late afternoon hours on April 27th.
JEAN: I was in grade 13 at Central Collegiate.
PEGGY: I was fifteen and at Central too.
JEAN: I can remember it coming over the loudspeaker and they said, “Will all the students who live in London West come to the office.” We all arrived and they told us to take our books and go home; that the water was very high. And to this day, I don’t know why they sent us home. I guess they thought it would never come over the banks.
PEGGY: They probably thought we’d be better off at home with our parents; let them make any decisions that had to be made. But my dad was at work and my mother was over on Gunn Street visiting my sister-in-law.
JEAN: We came down the steps at the end of Central Avenue and crossed over Blackfriars Bridge and I’ll never forget that as long as I live. The water level only seemed to be about a foot below the floor of the bridge. And it was just rushing under there.
PEGGY: And it wasn’t just water but all these blocks of ice. The ice was just starting to break up and those chunks were enormous.
JEAN: I went down Albion Street and got within about five houses of home and couldn’t go any further.
PEGGY: I must’ve been ahead of you because when I arrived home, there was no one there and Mrs. Smithson next door told me, “You’d better leave because the river is overflowing." And out the backyard, I could see it all starting to trickle in.
JEAN: The water was rushing down our driveway and I never did get into the house. Mr. Lewis came out of his place and said, “Now Jean, leave your books here. Our house is higher than yours and it’ll never come up here.” I had my grade 13 notes and they were pretty important to me. I was planning on going to Normal School the next fall to become a teacher. So I said, “All right, I’ll leave them here, Mr. Lewis, thanks so much.” And Mr. Lewis’ house was only one storey and later that night, they had to take him out by boat when he crawled out his attic window. Needless to say, my notebooks were ruined.
PEGGY: I never expected a flood but when the water started pouring into the yard, I thought it might be wisest to get over to my other sister’s. Elsie lived on Emery Street so I went to cross the Wharncliffe Road Bridge – and that was a wooden bridge in ’37 – and the water was right up to the top and there was no way I was going to cross that. I had a friend who lived up at the top of Mount Pleasant hill so I just turned around and walked up there. And, of course, my parents didn’t know where I was and I didn’t know where they were. I didn’t know where anybody was.
JEAN: My brother Stan was home from his job and I met him on Albion Street and we started to walk toward Wharncliffe Bridge. The water was up to my hips at that time and he said, “Jean, I’ll carry you on my back.” And he did. He carried me for a while but I guess I got pretty heavy because he dropped me in front of the Three Little Pigs Pentry [now the site of Under the Volcano]. To younger people, these things are rather funny, but this older lady came out of the Pentry and started screaming at us, “You’ll catch your death of cold.” Anyway, we did manage to cross that bridge.
PEGGY: Shows how brave you were.
JEAN: We all met at Elsie’s at about five o’clock.
PEGGY: Except me. When I was staying up on Mount Pleasant hill, the CN Bridge was right behind their house leading over to the Coves and all the time the flood was on, those trains just went at a snail’s pace. These huge blocks of ice in the river were banging up against the abutments. I think they were afraid the bridge would go.
JEAN: It was getting darker and still raining. So Mother told my brothers, “You’ll have to go over to London West and find Peggy.” They were just going out the door when the announcer on the radio said Peggy Norton was safe up on Forward Avenue. Were we ever relieved.
PEGGY: When you’re young, you think of these things as an adventure. And even when the water was halfway up their house, older people wanted to stay in their homes and save what they could. So nobody really seemed to be all that scared. We had a retarded boy on our street who lived with his mother and they stayed until they were dragged out the window late at night.
JEAN: They sent over garbage trucks from the City – just big open trucks – and took a lot of people out of London West in those. I remember seeing one rather distinguished lady and she looked so funny in the back of that truck, holding her umbrella, and the water pouring down all around her.
PEGGY: There was only one person drowned and that was over on Chandler Street. He fell out of a boat. He didn’t even live in London West; the poor soul. He was over there helping people get out. [The more precise story is the man hopped out of the boat to go and help others and slipped straight down a manhole, the lid of which had lifted away in the flood.]
JEAN: We had to go to the Armories for shots and a lot of people slept there. I couldn’t help thinking of Florence Nightingale. I wasn’t in the Crimean War but I’d seen pictures of it and there it was – all these rows and rows of cots set up in the Armories. About three days later, we were able to come back and have a look at the damage.
PEGGY: When we walked in, we just couldn’t believe what we saw.
JEAN: The mud was so thick in the house. The water had come up to seven feet on the main floor. We were with our parents when we first went back and it was then I realized for the first time how serious this was and how saddened they were. I remember Dad going in with rubber boots and the garden hose and he just walked around for hours, hosing it out.
PEGGY: The smell of the flood was in the house for years.
JEAN: We kept ours but a lot of people lost their front steps; they just floated away. In the first week back, people went over to this big lot over by West Lions Park and the steps had all drifted over to that area.
PEGGY: It seemed really weird where things ended up; who got flooded and who didn’t. How some people close to the river ended up a whole lot drier than people who were close to the hill. It all had to do with the water seeking out the lowest level.
JEAN: For me, the saddest thing of all was to see Dad out in the backyard after we’d returned, chopping up our piano with an axe, the tears just rolling down his face. But if there’s anything good that came out of the flood – and it’s probably true of any disaster – people help each other. Quarrels about property lines or children are all forgotten and everybody’s on the same level.
PEGGY: I would never live in London West again. They can say whatever they like. I don’t trust them and their damn dam. I’ve always told my children, “Watch where you buy a house and keep away from rivers. Because they come up.”
JEAN: We had an aunt and uncle behind us on Wilson Ave. and they were terribly upset and worried after the flood. They sold their house in a hurry for $500 and went back to England. I think our parents bounced back pretty well. I think they showed great courage. When you think what it must have meant to them to go through that with children growing up and still in school, and they just started all over again. And they stayed in that house until they died.
PEGGY: To get in or out of London West, you had to cross a bridge and that’s why London West was so special. The people who lived there were confined by those bridges and everyone knew everyone else.
JEAN: I still love London West. If we’re having coffee downtown someone will come over and say, “Didn’t you used to live in London West?” And they just beam if they can sit down and talk with someone who was there at the time.
EDITH HALL LIVED over by the Coves and as a wife and mother of a seven month old baby at the time of the flood, she shows how that disaster affected someone in a position of real responsibility.
EDITH: We’d only been married a couple of years and we moved into Springbank Drive in December of ’36, right next to the first Cove. I was sitting doing embroidery work at about one o’clock that afternoon and I noticed the people across the street pailing water out of their basement and wondered what in the world was going on. After a while my brother-in-law, Frank, came to the door and told me to gather up whatever I could and get out because there was a flood coming. So I said, “No, no; if there’s any trouble, I’ll get out. I’ll take a cab.” Fine. So he leaves.
And when I went next door to use their phone and get more information, I saw they were packing up and ready to leave. And I thought, “What are they doing all this for? Where’s the big danger?” So I went home and I still wasn’t worried. Then Frank came back and said, “This is it. Come quickly. There’s a flood coming and it’s coming now.” And as I looked out, I could see the waves coming across the field – just rolling across the field. So finally, I was convinced.
I grabbed the baby and what I thought was a basket full of baby clothes, handed that to Frank, gave him the baby, and dashed back to check the furnace. It was a coal furnace so I imagine when the water hit it, the steam must’ve been terrific. So we got in the car and as we were leaving, the waves were coming up all around the car, all over the road. Frank said, “Don’t worry, we’ll get out,” but he was obviously scared. I looked in the basket of baby clothes and discovered I brought the wrong one. It was a basket of rags and dusters.
And I remember concocting a scheme that if I had to, I’d rig up a papoose with the dusters – tie a bunch of rags together, strap the baby to my back and swim for it. But we managed to get out. We were the last car to get out of our neighbourhood. The water was coming over the Wharncliffe Bridge so they sent us back and we took the south way to get out to his place on Mill Street where we called my husband at work where he hadn’t heard a thing about the flood at all.
It seems to me it was about three weeks before we went back to the neighbourhood even for a look. No area got flooded worse than the Coves. The water went right over the roof. There was nothing poking out but the chimney. We went back in a row boat and I remember getting off that boat, taking one step onto the porch and immediately slipping in this slimy, slippery muck that covered everything. We opened the front door and the first thing I saw was the baby’s beautiful wicker buggy lying flat on its side, just black with muck. It was so slippery, you couldn’t move across a room without hanging onto something all the time. It was slime. And the stench . . . To walk into that was just devastating.
All kinds of furniture had just been floating about from room to room. You wouldn’t find things where you expected them and they’d be hard to recognize under all that muck. My fur coat was on the floor and I thought it was a rug. I just had to throw it out. We looked out the back window and our garage had disappeared completely. The floorboards were all curled up. The veneer on the furniture was peeling away. I opened the cellar door and if I hadn’t been hanging onto the wall, I’d have slipped down into about five feet of water. There were even fish down there swimming around. I’d been raising budgies in the basement so they were all gone.
The landlord was a dear man and asked us to clean up and we did. We couldn’t walk out and leave all that. Have you ever tried to lift a mattress full of water? It felt like two tons. We took everything out to the curb and these trucks that were constantly coming by disposed of it. And these cars kept coming by carrying tourists with their faces hanging out the window, pointing. I’d never do that to somebody who’d been through a disaster. If you’re going to go in, go help. But don’t just sit there and gawk. Days and days it took to clean up and we never did move back in. We just couldn’t. The house still stands. It’s a dear little place but I can’t seem to look at it.
My sister lived on Wyatt Street and when she knew the flood was coming, she had most of her things taken out by truck but somehow forgot her wedding dress which my other sister had made for her. She went back and it was still hanging in the closet just streaked in black mud. Her wedding was only a few weeks away so she took it to Smallman & Ingram's and a lady washed it by hand and brought it back. She was married in that dress on the 22nd of May.
And when I went back the embroidery work I’d been doing was still sitting on the chesterfield – covered in muck but it was still there. I used to pull threads from sugar bags and do hem stitching. But I don’t think I finished that one.
BETTY GARNEAU LIVED in a two-storey house just south of the Wellington Street Bridge which also housed her father’s business, R.R. Mines Groceries. This business, which had been thriving for eleven years, was situated in the tip of the V where High Street shoots southwest out of Wellington. Of all the people I talked with, no family was hit harder than hers.
BETTY: I was playing in a badminton tournament that day after school at South when my mother phoned the office and told me, “Get home immediately, we need you. Never mind the tournament, don’t shower or anything – get home,” Coming home from school, the first thing I saw was the water almost to the top of the bridge and everything floating in the river – furniture, chairs, sheds. It was just chaos at home and they immediately put me to work trying to get everything we could upstairs.
The people down on Front Street got flooded every spring – but never like this – so they were all bringing their stuff up to our place too, saying, “Have you got room for this? Can you take that up for me?” They brought their radios and their antiques and their photo albums. They were really getting it bad because they were that much lower and closer to the river. One house from Front Street just lifted off its foundation and the whole thing went floating away. Mrs. Loveday lived down there with six boys and a baby girl and when the flood moved through, it seemed to take everything, including her baby’s crib. But that crib got stuck in the railing of the Wellington Street Bridge and just sort of hung there for a few days.
We all left by seven o’clock when the water was a foot and a half deep in the store and just gushing through to the back of the house. We’d done everything we could; filled small suitcases with clothes and left. It was Friday after school when they allowed us back in and the beams under the floorboards were all caving in so the City had the building condemned. We went in at our own risk, so they said. We had to. Everything we owned was in there and we had to get it down. We had to shovel a path through the muck on the main floor just to get our things out.
They told us to be careful where we walked and if we heard anything creak, get off it immediately. We saved most of our furniture and ended up stacking a lot of it in two bedrooms at my Aunt Lily’s, waiting for the day when we could accommodate it all in a larger home. But that day never came.
We’d lost our home and our livelihood. We owned a house on Emery Street but that was leased out for two more years and they didn’t want to leave. And we owned another little house on Waterloo at Hill – it was just a two by four with three tiny bedrooms and all eight of us moved in there and that was our home from then on. My dad took on any kind of work he could find. He did gardening for people, tended bar at the Armories – and he was an abstainer; he’d never mixed a drink in his life. Eventually he got a job as a lab assistant at the university medical school and that picked up his spirits a little but he never really recovered from the devastation of the flood. Particularly those first couple years, he was very downhearted.
We had books; each customer had a separate account which they’d pay at the end of the month. And the flood was April 27th, so there were thousands of dollars owing on those books. I took it upon myself to try to help out by going around to some of the people and trying to collect the money. But a lot of them were in the same boat we were. They’d just been flooded out. I got five dollars here, two dollars there but most of it just had to be written off. Any canned goods the water didn’t reach, my dad was able to sell to another store keeper. Any cans with the label off, Dad had to keep or throw away so for the next few months, we had an awful lot of surprise dinners.
It was a humiliating experience for all of us. I felt depressed. All my future prospects changed. I didn’t finish school because of the flood. I’d planned to work through to become a nurse but we needed money at home. I didn’t want to be selfish so I got a job at Service Lamp to help ease finances at home. I think Mother weathered it better than Dad – but then I think women do. They don’t have much choice if they have children to raise. You’ve got to carry on and do what you can, pull up your socks and make the best of it.
JUST BEFORE CHRISTMAS I joined the women in Mother’s club for a couple hours one Wednesday night to sound them out about the flood and see what sort of stories they’d be willing to share. By the end of our time together, after I’d heard many of the stories I’ve now passed on to you – stories that took them to the brink of tears as they remembered their own dashed dreams or the goodness and courage of their kin; and stories that had them roaring with laughter about pressed Easter bonnets and tropical fish that swam out the door – I told them they reminded me of English Londoners recalling the days of the Blitz. They refuted it immediately. This was no lark. The flood had been a disaster. “I know,” I said. “But just listen to the fervor you bring to these stories. Can any of you recall any other day in your lives with such richness of feeling and detail?”
They were still trying to come up with one a few minutes later when I took my leave as their meeting adjourned for lunch.
This article first appeared in London magazine, April 1987
22/11/2021 11:19:11 am
Once again,a marvelous and in this case timely story. Thank you.
23/11/2021 05:01:00 am
What a great piece that is , Herman, so wonderful that you recorded all of their stories,...it really paints the picture. How horrible it must have been, but they soldiered on.
23/11/2021 09:31:09 am
Even to an outsider like me, Herman, an interesting piece. Having witnessed more than one catastrophe in various parts of the world, I've found it's the women who keep it together when the rubble is finally cleared, while the men stare vacantly thinking of what they've lost. Over the last ten years here in England - be it spring, summer, fall or winter - somewhere is flooded. For some in floodplains and river valleys, it has become a regular occurrence. May you never have to live through it yourself.
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