May 19, 2018

"Fake" shutters

Early-season hurricanes are not the norm,

But they do happen from time to time.

Agnes (June 1972) sticks out in my mind.

It goes in the record books as my first hydrologic memory, not as a Floridian – where it made landfall, but as a native Marylander where I was born, and where the storm passed through on its way up the Atlantic Coast.

I was only 3 years old at the time.

My mother and father judiciously had us take cover under ground, not for the reason we didn’t have shutters on our windows – we did, but because those shutters were fake!

The so called "ornamental shutters" were made of flimsy plastic, manufactured too narrow to cover the full width of glass, and – the final insult – drilled permanently into the wall siding.

They looked great on a sunny day, but that was about the good of them!

But Marylanders are nothing if not innovative: we found safety in the basement … and after the storm passed, also found a thin sheen of water on the slab floor.

That discovery marked the beginning of my father’s futile attempts to battle a chronic moisture problem in our basement, predictably ending each time with him admitting defeat (tinged with a sense of awe) to the subterranean river that coursed beneath our house.

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