Monday, November 9, 2015

The Blind Hour

Back in the day every one had party lines.
I know that the youngsters that hear that think of long lines of people dressed to go have a party, but in our day it was all about the telephone party line. We all had those black rotary telephones and every one had a party line.
A party line was a shared telephone line that was used by up to 4 households. In our case, we had 4 people that used the same line. The only way to tell it was your phone was the number of rings. Ours was two if I remember right. Ring ring.. ring Ring.. and we would pick up. It if were any other ring, we let it ring. The phone rang all day long and you could not turn it off just in case you got a call. If you wanted to make a call, you picked up the telephone and if someone was on the line, you hung up and waited.
Our telephone was always busy because we had a talker on our line. We could never make a phone call and I am embarrassed to say that sometimes we asked the operator to break in so that we could make an important call. It was the only way to get a word in edge wise!
One day in particular, my parents and younger sister had gone into town to buy me some ointment that the doctor had prescribed for these ring worm areas on my arm and leg. I was always barefoot and in stagnant mud puddles so I had a fair amount of worms as a kid. All of us did because shoes were for school or church. We had one pair of shoes and we wore them to school and then took off our school clothes and shoes and put on our work clothes or play clothes. You don't hear of children changing clothes when they get home from school these days. I don't see any of the kids I know here do that. But back in that day, I had 3 dresses and they had to be handed down so I took care of them.
On that stormy day, I was home alone. Now I know what you are thinking; the movie about being home alone and the adventure that followed. I had an adventure that terrified me and I was not near so prepared as the small boy in the movie..
When I decided to make a phone call, I knew that we did not talk on the phone if it was lightening but the desire to talk to a friend overcame the warning and I made my call. The party line talker was miraculously off the phone and that should have been my first clue, but I was 12 and motivated..
I sat on my favorite little stool and put in the call to my friend. We had talked for a few minutes and the I heard the lightening strike and then the thunder rumbled through the house. Wow, that was close my.. I saw the lightening and started counting. 1- 1000... 2- 1000.. 3-1000.. 4-1000.. That was a little close for comfort but I kept on talking and turned my back to the open front door. That was an invitation for disaster in my house.
You see, Daddy built the house in 1949 but it wasn't grounded well and the lightening would sometimes crackle into the house. We knew to wear shoes when it rained on the tile and to not step in something wet and walk
about barefoot. I know that sounds odd but that was our house.
I talked and just as I was about to end my conversation, the lightening crackled through the telephone line into the headpiece and into my ear. It was strong and I could smell it in my hair and feel it in my body when it knocked me off my stool to the ground.
You have to appreciate what I was feeling at that time. I was 12, home alone and the worst thing of all, is that I was blind. All I could see was black! I was on the floor, turning my head from side to side, trying to get the smell out of my nose and starting to panic some because I could not call my folks (no cell phones) , we did not have neighbors to speak of ( my old aunt Lizzie Creamer lived across the stree but I was not about to try and crawl over there with it storming) , and I was blind. I crawled on the floor feeling my way to the couch and climbed up on it and cried. I tried to reconcile myself to the fact that I was blind and I may stay  blind. I prayed.
I kept closing and opening my eyes thinking that I would be able to see if I just blinked, but it did not work. And I waited for my Daddy. I do not know how long I lay there but after what seemed like an inordinate amount of time, I opened my eyes and saw white puffy clouds. Then I saw shadowy shapes and then my sight returned. When I looked at the clock, it had been almost an hour of terrifying darkness and feelings of helplessness about what to do.
By the time daddy got back with my medicine, my sight had returned and I told him I got shocked from talking on the phone and that I couldn't see for a while. He asked, " can you see now?" and I said, "Yes". and then he said, "you shouldn't have been talking on the phone" and I said, " I know, Daddy."
That wasn't the only time I inadvertently got struck by lightening but that is a tale for another day..
It gave me a whole new meaning to the old spiritual, that I was blind and now I see.. And I did not talk on the phone during a lightening storm..
Gloria Peacock Kimmel Nov. 9, 2015
(image from a google search)

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