The Day it Snowed in May By Gwen G.
Table of Contents Cover.... Page 1.... Page 2.... Page 3-7.... Page 8-10.... Page 11....
.... Title and Author .... Table of Contents and Authorâ€™s Note .... Family Tree .... Narrative .... Interview and Bibliography .... Reflection
Authorâ€™s Note This story is set in Beaverton, Oregon, through the viewpoint of my dad, Nephi Gustafson, when he was just 15 years old. On the morning of May 18, 1980, Mount St. Helens, a supposedly dormant volcano in southwestern Washington state, had one of the most violent eruptions ever recorded in the United States. An earthquake with a magnitude of 5.1 caused a huge landslide on the north side of the volcano, reducing its height by over 1,300 feet. Toxic fumes and lava, produced by the lateral air blast and eruption, killed fifty-seven people and thousands of animals.
My Family Tree
My dad, who I interviewed for this narrative
The Day it Snowed in May
Although my memory is a bit fuzzy, I do remember that the
bright, spring morning had been absolutely beautiful. Most of the time in Beaverton, Oregon, the sky was gray and drab, while enormous storm clouds poured out endless sheets of rain. But that particular Sunday, May 18, 1980, there hadn’t been a single cloud in the sky- not until the eruption.
A refreshing spring breeze whispered through the
butter-colored curtains hanging in our kitchen window, bringing with it the aroma of Mom’s flourishing bed of tulips. Soft sunshine filtered through the dusty glass, casting everything in a golden glow.
“Nephi!” Dad’s booming voice shattered the peaceful
silence. “Hurry up! You’re going to make us late to church again!”
Like a typical teenage boy, I indignantly shouted
back, “I’m coming, gosh!” and wolfed down my bowl of Sugar Smacks.
I had an extremely difficult time hopping across the
den and pulling my ankle-high socks on at the same time. Skidding to a halt in the foyer, I found myself standing in front of the entire family: Mom, Dad, my older brother Alex, my five younger siblings, and the baby, Rachel, whom Mom was cradling in her slim arms. Making a mental note to never press the snooze button again, I threw on my shoes and hastily grabbed my worn copy of the Bible.
As our family headed out the shabby front door, I
noticed something quite peculiar across the street. Our neighbors, the Newmanâ€™s, were standing outside on their covered front porch, leaning over the railing and staring in awe at our backyard. What in the world are they staring at? I wondered. Are Momâ€™s flowers really that interesting? To my surprise, Leah, my three year-old sister, answered the question.
“Look! Mommy, look! The mountain is puffing!”
Slowly turning around, I realized what the Newman’s
had been gaping at. Behind us, just a mere fifty miles away, Mount St. Helens jutted out of the earth, in clear view of the house. A massive mushroom cloud of ash, smoke, and debris had exploded from its mouth. That’s really odd, I thought. The volcano is supposed to be dormant. The rippling black cloud was pulsing out in all directions at an alarming speed, including south, towards us. The thought of it reaching our house put me on edge, but apparently, it didn’t bother my brothers.
“That is totally wicked!” Alex exclaimed.
“And it’s blowing up!” added my little brother Jared.
“Boys,” Mom scolded, interrupting their
conversation. “I know this is very exciting, but many people will be hurt by the eruption, so don’t make fun. Now, let’s all get in the car, so we won’t be even more late to
church.” As she finished her speech, she gave me a look that said, I’m talking to you, buddy.
Our white, wood-paneled Ford LTD Station Wagon
barely fit the ten of us. As it rumbled down the gravelly road toward church, things got even weirder. A small, grey snowflake had stuck to the windshield, but it was the middle of May. It was followed by another, then another. Soon our car was coated in a thin layer of the strange flakes, and Dad had to turn on the windshield-wipers.
Only then did I realize it had gotten dark; the
beaming rays of sunshine had been extinguished. I peered up into the sky, and sure enough, the sun was covered by a huge, smoky cloud. What was stuck to our car wasn’t snow, but ash.
My curiosity got the better of me and I hollered to
the front seat, “Dad, stop the car!” Popping open my door,
I jumped out before the station wagon had even stopped rolling, eager to experience the bizarre storm.
All around me, ash swirled and danced in the air. It
was heavy and gritty, yet it clung to my suit and I couldnâ€™t brush it off. As my family slowly trickled out of the car to join me, I wandered down the deserted road in amazement, trying to take it all in. It was spooky and spectacular, all at the same time.
Now I look back on it today, thirty-two years later.
The deaths of 57 people and thousands of animals, in one of the most violent volcano eruptions that ever occurred in the US, made me realize just how destructive Mother Nature could be.
Interviewing My Dad Q1: When did you realize the volcano had erupted? Were you surprised? A: We saw it when we went outside to the car for church, and asked our neighbors. Went onto the neighbors deck after church. A massive cloud of smoke rose up like a funnel, then spread out in all directions across the sky and blew towards us. In about an hour, it started raining ash. The ash was very grainy like sand. It scratched everything it came in contact with. Glass was on cars, and stuck to everything. It was annoying. First eruption- 2 inches of ash. We werenâ€™t supposed to breathe it, but went outside anyway to experience it. Q2: How did your family handle it? A: We were excited to see it, but then we had to pitch in together to help clean it up, which took a lot of work. Q3: How did you remove all of the ash from the driveway? A: Shoveling, sweeping, everything. The fire department used a fire hose to clean off the street, driveways, and houses. Bulldozers came to take it away.
Q4: Were any of your younger siblings frightened? A: Debbie and Lia were worried about what was happening, but not too bad. They were more excited than frightened. Q5: Did you go to school during this time? A: Yes, we went outside and played in it. We missed the day after the eruption, when we had to clean up. It wasnâ€™t dangerous- just annoying. We tried to wipe it off, and it would scratch the windshield, or get stuck in air filters. Q6: Were you scared? What was your reaction? A: No, I was a teenager. It was more interesting and cool than scary. Q7: How old were you and your siblings at that time? A: 17, 15, 13, 10, 9, 6, 3, 1. I was 15. Q8: What were you doing and where were you when it erupted? A: I was getting ready for church, at home, in a suit and tie with my hair combed back. Q9: How did the event effect you and your family overall?
A: It made us aware of how strong nature can be, and that we should always be prepared for natural disasters of any kind. Q10: Who was with you when the event happened? A: The whole entire family, and the morning was very busy with 8 kids. We didn’t notice until we went outside. Q11: Was there a particular time that you remember clearly and distinctly? Hearing, smelling, seeing? A: Going out when the ash was falling. It was like heavy, gritty, grey snow. Also, standing on the deck, watching the magnificent eruption is very vivid (above, Q1).
Bibliography "Saint Helens, Mount." Britannica Student Encyclopedia. Encyclopædia Britannica Online School Edition. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 2012. Web. 7 Nov. 2012. "Saint Helens, Mount." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online School Edition. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 2012. Web. 7 Nov. 2012. Mount St. Helens: The Eruption. Video. Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Web. 7 Nov. 2012.
Reﬂection What specific challenges did you face during this project? A few challenges I faced during this project were trying to get enough information out of my dad, and always getting, “I don’t remember. It was a long time ago.” It was very frustrating. What did you learn about your family member? (personality, character) Before this project, I had no idea that my dad had been there when Mount St. Helens erupted. When I was interviewing him for a small moment, I was surprised to find that he hadn’t been scared at the time of the eruption. What did you learn about yourself (as a learner, as a family member)? I learned that I have a lot to live up to. There are a lot of amazing things my family has done. When I was searching for something to write about, I found how different my mom’s family is from my dad’s, and how much they are alike. How have you grown? (as a writer) I think that I grew a lot as a writer over this project. Writing about something that happened to someone else is very different than what I am used to.
Why do you think a project like this is important? I think that this kind of project is very important for students. Everyone should know about their family’s past. It’s where they come from; it’s their history, too. What part of this process did you enjoy the most? Why? My favorite part of this project was either writing the rough draft, or finishing my final narrative. I love writing rough drafts, because you can do whatever you want. There are no limits. I also like to finish final drafts, because it means you are done editing, and you can see what a good job you did. What part of this process did you least enjoy? Why? The part that I least enjoyed was the interview. It was really hard to find a small moment and get enough information to write a whole narrative on it. How do you plan to share this project with your family/family member? I want to show my mom at the SLC’s, then I’ll show my dad, who this story is about, at home, because he won’t be able to come to them.