Friday, March 29, 2013

Three Strikes Lightning

Cleaning my desk I uncovered an envelope with two stories scrawled on its back, stories I heard in two of the rare moments I wasn't carrying a notebook.

The top of the envelope is a list of curious but ultimately non-remarkable attributes pertaining to a friend's cousins. They add up to a compelling clan in a Hillfolk game set on the 7 hills of Seattle.

But the bottom of the envelope is where things get interesting. We were hiking a ridge trail near Hurricane Ridge with ominous clouds in the distance. The conversation turned to lightning strikes and the woman passing us on the trail entered the conversation.

     "My grandfather got hit by lightning three times."
     "What? Three times?" I said. "Um, clearly he survived at least..."
Yes, he had survived all three lightning strikes. I believe she told me that he was still alive but not up to hiking any more, so they'd come up the Ridge without him.

Of course I wanted the details so the full story came out in about ninety seconds while she waited for the rest of her family to catch up.

Strike #1 was when her grandfather was in school. He was sitting at a desk just looking out the window and lightning came through the window and blasted him out of his chair. Didn't hurt him much though.

Strike #2 was worse. He was in the Air Force during WWII and he and two friends wanted to get back to the barracks quickly from the mess hall. Reconstructing my notes, the situation was complicated by the fact that the grandfather had suffered some sort of leg injury, he was on crutches. His two friends decided to rig up some carrying arrangement and then instead of going the long way around they cut through a drainage culvert. And that's where the lightning hit them and both his friends who were carrying him died.

Strike #3 came when his B-17 was hit. I didn't write down whether he was a pilot or a bombardier or a navigator or a gunner, but I did write down that the hit when he was in the B-17 left him blind for 6 months. But he recovered and ended up flying 25 missions for the USAF and 27 more for the RAF maybe not in that order.

     "Wow. OK. Thank you so much for that story."

     There was no sign of thunder in the clouds but if I was him I'd avoid hiking Hurricane Ridge even if my knees could handle it.

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