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Saturday, March 3, 2012

...because that's what we do

As many of you probably know, the part of the country I live in has been hit by some severe weather on Thursday and Friday.  Tornadoes are something you have to deal with in the Midwest.  I grew up with them. I remember a really severe one when I was about 7 or 8 which jumped our house, but took out a wide swath in the woods, ripped off half of the Willigus' house so that it looked like it was a cross section....the bed on the second floor was still made and clearly visible from the road.  I remember the sound.  I remember being afraid for our animals....and I remember balking at going down into our dirt floored basement as it was night and I had my nightgown on but no shoes.  Mom scooped me up and carried me to the far corner of the basement.

I remember being in college in 1980 when a tornado swept through Kalamazoo, uprooting the majestic trees in Bronson Park and killing several people when a wall in a department store collapsed on the people inside.  I also remember the idiots who watched the tornado from their apartment balconies....and I remember running to the apartment to hide in the interior bathroom.

So, when we found we were moving to Ohio from Connecticut, I insisted on getting a house with a basement.  In Troy, because there are limestone shelves all through the area, some of the houses we looked at were built on slabs.  Not for this Midwesterner.

When you're raised in the Midwest, especially in rural areas or areas which still have strong ties to their agrarian roots, there's a mentality which is ingrained in you.  I admit, it is getting diluted, but it's still there.  The other night when I was watching the news, they had an old farmer on who had driven into one of the stricken areas from a nearby town to help clear the area and salvage what could be salvaged.  When asked why he did it, he said "Because that's what we do.  This year my neighbor needs my help, next year it might be me.  This is what needs to be done and we do it."

I was raised this way.  I believe in it.  I wish more people did and acted on it.  When I was in Connecticut and worked hard as one of three organizers of a neighborhood association which was dealing with some really tough problems, I had someone ask me why I was working so hard, particularly when I didn't stand to gain anything from it and I was taking a lot of grief.  I answered that it was my duty to work for the good of the neighborhood, even if it meant that it wasn't necessarily good for me.  The person indicated that I was crazy, and I said well, that's what we do where I come from.   He snorted and asked where was that, and I told him. "Oh, that's why.  You're about 20 years behind the times."  Well...quite frankly, I'm glad we are.  Maybe others should take a step back in time and treat their neighbors with respect and care.  Like the farmer said, you just never know when it will be your time to need help.

2 comments:

Sara Lynne said...

Well said!

Lisa Broberg Quintana said...

Thank you, Sara Lynne. You find it in other areas as well, but New England I found it to be less so than other places.

In Montana, when a family had a really tough time near harvest (the head of the household had a serious illness), several of the surrounding neighbors got together and helped harvest his acreage which was not unsubstantial. Without that help, they probably wouldn't have been able to get through that year as hiring custom cutters (the combine teams) is expensive and you never know how the crop is going to turn out.