Saturday, March 11, 2017

Sepia Saturday #358


Today's Sepia Saturday prompt (Thanks, Alan!) offers us a middle-aged couple, Phillip and Frederica Wylie, affectionately sharing a moment while listening to a weather broadcast on a radio in Miami Beach, FL. Now, as someone who grew up with a red transistor radio glued to her hip, who remembers when all the good songs were still being played on AM and who waited each week for Casey Kasem's long-distance dedications, I would have loved to do a Sepia Saturday post about radio.

Sadly, I have no pictures that do justice to that latent passion of mine. I don't even have a photo with a radio in it.

So ...

Let's talk about weather.

It stands to reason that if the Wylies are living in Miami Beach and they're glued to the weather broadcast, then there's probably a storm brewing. And we all know that if there's a storm brewing in Florida, it usually gets a name and a big spiral on the radar map to call its own.

June 22, 1972. I didn't live in Florida; I lived smack dab in the middle of Pennsylvania. But Hurricane Agnes didn't discriminate; she barreled up the Eastern Seaboard with a vengeance, leaving death and destruction in her wake. My little hometown, situated on the banks of the Susquehanna River, didn't stand a chance.

The photo above was taken by my father from the little bit of dry land where the end of my street met the four-lane highway that ran through town. There was a creek which ran just to the north of my housing development, and its overflowing waters extended the river's reach in this part of town. 

Ten inches of rain fell in a matter of days, and by the time it was over, entire communities had been destroyed. My parents had a radio on top of the refrigerator in the kitchen, and every day at noon my father would come home for lunch. And every day, while eating lunch, they listened to the news on WKOK out of Sunbury, PA. That June, I can remember the reports of the storm and the flooding -- Sunbury is another river town and it received extensive damage, as well. Harrisburg, the state capital, was hit hard, too; even the Governor's Mansion was under water:

Cleanup was a long and arduous process. The receding floodwaters left knee-high mud in its wake, (photos of which, surprisingly, I could not find on the internet) and the damages totaled $2.1 billion, an astronomical sum at a time. Today, that would equal over $12.2 billion. My parents were lucky. Living where they did, the most they suffered was a few inches of water in our basement and some time off work. Others weren't so fortunate.

And what did fashionable 7 year olds wear when venturing forth to view flood damage? Only the latest in print polyester pants and waterproof rain gear.

Just FYI, on June 24, 1972 the #1 song on Billboard's Top 100 was Sammy Davis Jr's "The Candy Man." My little red radio also played "Heart of Gold" (Neil Young), "A Horse with No Name" (America), "Doctor My Eyes" (Jackson Browne) and "Rocket Man" (Elton John). 

I'll leave you with this, another 1972 classic:

For more Sepia Saturday fun, click HERE!!


  1. I enjoyed your link between the radio and the weather, and your first hand terrifying experience of a hurricane.

  2. In 1972 I was down on the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia, just a few weeks after my high school graduation when Agnes blew past. There were a good number of storms both frightening and thrilling to remember. Today's television satellite reports are tame compared to the days when radio was all there was.

  3. What a horror cleaning up after a hurricane must be. And you are quite the 1972 fashion plate there.

  4. Nature can be so violent. Australia gets its share of tropical cyclones, one notable example being Cyclone Tracy which all but destroyed the town of Darwin on Christmas Eve 1974, but the devastating hurricanes and tornadoes we hear about in the States sound a lot worse and seem to happen more frequently. Glad you survived to tell us about Agnes in 1972! My husband's anceztors came from White Deer Twp on the Susquehanna, which I imagine would have been affected too.

  5. The photos, and the picture you paint with words, bring us the real horrors of devastating weather. I was at college in 1972 and remember all those songs too.

  6. Casey Kasem! How many times I've listened to his broadcasts. Yep, I remember those songs too! And though I was living in Tampa in 72, Agnes left her damage further east and north. Simply terrible, how those storms cause such havoc, and we are still as powerless against them as cavemen. Your cleanup must have been grueling. But the fashionable gear was nice!

  7. Your first-hand reporting on the hurricane and listening to the radio for weather reports brought back memories of listening to my husband's scanner during forest fires threatening us. I missed using that info in my post as I didn't think about it, darn it. He worked for the U.S. Forest Service which is why we had a scanner and also why we lived in areas subject to forest fires. Those were some pretty tense times but fortunately, though we were evacuated a couple of times from the path of fires, they never quite got to us and we were able to return home to all being well. :)