Off Beat: Article spurs many memories of Columbus Day storm

By Tom Vogt, Columbian science, military & history reporter

Published:

 

It was a day they'll always remember … a day they'll never forget.

Both phrases came up a lot when people who'd read a recent article about the 50th anniversary of the 1962 Columbus Day Storm shared their own stories.

Richard Prentice was on a business trip to California, where the storm struck first. He was in a customer's office when the phone rang. The customer's wife said that a tree had just fallen on their house. That ended his sales call.

Near the end of his long return trip to Portland, Prentice was halted by a downed power pole, then saw that a sparking power line was draped over his car. He opened the door and catapulted out without electrocuting himself.

"I saw there was a way I could back out, so I dove back into the car," he said. "I wouldn't recommend it, but I wanted to get home."

Some online memories, edited for space and style:

• Neil Pope: The family huddled up in my parents' room. Our house on the corner of Ninth Street and 112th Avenue was surrounded by fir trees, and every time we heard one hit the ground, dad would yell, "Lost another one!" Amazingly, although we had a dozen or so down, none hit the house. My grandma had to grab me by the collar and rein me in because I kept going to the window to see what was happening.v v vn Marc TerHorst: We lived in Camas and had similar close calls with huge firs. Luckily, none came in contact with our house! I was 6 years old, and boy, the day after, I was having so much fun playing on all of the downed trees, as if they were some new playground equipment!v v vn Rick Isom: The only damage our house had were pieces of neighbors' shingles embedded into the side of our house. I walked down Fruit Valley Road to check on a friend of mine. At first, I couldn't figure out what was so different. Then it hit me: I could see the horizon to the west! This area was surrounded by huge groves of walnut and plum trees, blocking any view of the horizon. They were all lying down, as if a huge hand had swept them aside.

Off Beat lets members of The Columbian news team step back from our newspaper beats to write the story behind the story, fill in the story or just tell a story.