i A Time and a Place...: Remembering the Big Flood, et al...

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Remembering the Big Flood, et al...

It was the year of our Lord, 1948 or 1949 when the big flood hit Modesto. The Tuolumne River began rising around the second week of December and by the time Christmas came around, quite a few houses had floated down that River. I know because I watched them from the hill at the top of the hill where Empire Avenue starts down toward the river.

My friends and I also watched a house float by while we were at Hillside Drive at the south end of Conejo Avenue. On down to the river is Legion Park. There is a bathroom and shower rooms there and they all were completely under water.

We watched two boys in a boat row out to one house and try to get inside it. It was just before Christmas and we heard later that someone had stolen Christmas presents from a couple of the houses. I'm not sure that was the truth but we believed it then.

There was a boy that went to Roosevelt Junior High School when I did who drew wonderful pictures of muscle men. I was never good with a pencil and I really admired him for his talent. He was a nice guy and his parents came from somewhere back east along about the middle of the school year.
He was a sort of funny looking kid, a little chunky and with a weird haircut; it had been feathered a bit too much on the back and sides and it made his head look funny. He got some teasing for that but not from me. I took up for him a couple of times.

The reason I mention him is because of something that happened while I was watching the flood one day. It must have been on Saturday or Sunday because we weren't in school. (I can almost remember his name-Gary Coleman or something like that)

I was standing on the side of the road on Empire Avenue and this kid was standing right near me. His Dad was there, too. While we were talking, the kid poked the toe of his shoe into the dirt, sort of like a nervous tic. His Dad saw him do it and loudly told him to stop. He said the shoe wasn't a bulldozer and it cost money. The kids' face reddened and I told the man he shouldn't embarrass his son like that in front of his friends. He gave me a look and took the kids' hand and they left.

I saw the kid later in school but neither of us ever mentioned what had happened. We never had been close friends so it didn't really matter.

It's strange that I would remember that incident. That's the way it goes, I guess.



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