Funny how memories float around in your head. On this day, the 32nd anniversary of the 1979 tornado that tore up most of my hometown of Wichita Falls, Texas, a lot of memories of that time surfaced. Some were sad, some were funny. Some just stay in my heart forever. Here is one...
A SIMPLE PIECE OF LETTUCE
For days Mom and I had been sifting through and digging out the pieces of what was left of our life at 1308 Montgomery St. It was long, tedius and thankless work, but we were fortunate to have family and friends who'd come and help when they could.
We worked at our demolished home for as many hours as we could hold out, and were always thankful when the Red Cross disaster vans came around with sandwiches and drinks, giving us a needed break as well as sustence. But after a couple of weeks of bologna and cheese sandwiches on dry bread (no mayo, no mustard, no nothing), well the taste appeal just wasn't there anymore. I didn't think I could look another sandwich in the eye again for as long as I lived.
One sunny Saturday some of my friends from high school offered to come help me and Mom sift through our pile of rubble. I can't remember just who all came, but Lisa Kunkel, Eric Messer and his sister, Helen, were right in there, helping to salvage anything that might be saved.
We worked hard all morning when noontime rolled around and the "sandwich" vans started showing up. I knew I would just get a Coke and wait for supper. I'd had it with those sandwiches!
Then a car pulled up where our house used to be, and Eric's sweet mother stepped out. "I have brought your lunch," Mrs Messer called out. "Sandwiches and sodas!"
"Oh great," I remember thinking, "more sandwiches!" But I graciously took one mainly because Mrs. Messer had gone to all the effort to bring them to us.
As I slowly unwrapped the sandwich, I glimpsed the most beautiful sight I think I have ever or will ever see. There was a beautiful, crispy, light green piece of lettuce sitting stop a sumptuous looking piece of ham. And be still my heart, there was mayonanaise lightly spread upon two soft, fresh, fragrant slices of bread.
Well, I just broke down and cried!
My friends thought I'd truly finally lost my mind and they probably knew I had when I told them just why I was crying. I was crying for happiness at the sight of a piece of lettuce! That was the best sandwich I have ever had!
Now don't misunderstand. I ws truly grateful for the sandwiches and provisions the Red Cross and others had provided. I really did appreciate the hard work the many volunteers had put into making their offerings.
But that one sandwich with it's garnish of lettuce, made with love by Eric Messer's mother, has remained one of the dearest and finest memories of a time when sweet memories are hard to come by.
Here are some photos of the 1979 Tornado: