Letter to the editor: Hard to believe it’s been 43 years since the mountain blew


It is always a pleasure to take a drive north to my childhood home range and to see “the mountain” out in all of her splendor, especially on a warm spring day abuzz with new life.

As a child, this mountain was visible from our kitchen window, even as she blew in 1980. She was a constant as we ran and played and worked, as we laughed and cried — and grew and left the family home.

I remember May 18, 1980 so vividly — the day our mountain blew. It’s hard to believe it’s been 43 years. Wow. Time flies. When she blasted her top, I was 13, living on the farm just past milepost 27, as my dad would say on the phone to first-time visitors.

In those days, we just had a phone stuck to the wall and I remember getting calls from a far-away suitor I had met at the church conventions — too young to be dating at 16. I scrambled off the hay truck and ran into the house to answer the phone. Younger siblings were snickering and chanting “love songs” in the background.

Times are different nowadays. It’s a much faster-paced world, but I miss the other days. I miss lazy days and dusty paths. I miss the Avon lady dropping by and the Bookmobile — that mainstay in my summer days — the key to worlds beyond and new adventures. The crinkle of the jacket covers and the smell of new books — settling into a story when the heat was intense and the farmhouse cool.

So it’s nice to take a drive every now and then and reminisce, driving past the places where I used to babysit and pick berries and get apples. I saw mothers sitting on a blanket having lunch with their youngsters, similar to what we used to do. I saw the hay field where we spent hours in the summer rolling bales for the hay chute, the same field where I learned to drive a stick shift with a sticky clutch, my foot barely reaching the pedal of the old, green Chevy truck. I can still feel the hard steering wheel, the smooth bouncy seat. I can smell my dad in there, chewing tobacco, black coffee, woods and hay.

I saw the schools with children running across the playground. Is it already 40 to 50 years ago that I was there, competing with the boys at recess, playing handball in my dress? Begging Mr. Watts to let me run the copies so I could smell the ink from the old hand crank copier? Or fighting butterflies in my belly every morning as the bus rolled into the school parking lot?

And all the while, the mountain sat in her perfect white gown, while we lived out our youthful years, trekking through her foothills, damming the creek so we could take a swim (until the cows came plodding up for a drink), and enjoying all the things of living just past milepost 27.

Vivian Walikainen,