I’ve posted Mollie Moore Godbold’s memories of a Texas blue norther. Today, Mollie is remembering something we all can relate to…..a drought…broken by a flood. I suppose it is because my thoughts, and certainly my prayers, have been with the families who have lost loved ones to the recent floods that made me remember the following story and just how easy and how quickly tragedy can strike.
While the northers were bad, the droughts were worse. For months no rain would fall, and the air would become so dry that people felt parched, as if no moisture remained in their bodies. When there was a wind, it was so hot that it might have been blown from a furnace. Vegetables died, the ground cracked open, cattle died from hunger and thirst, men and women became haggard from worry.
How often I have seen my father standing on the back porch, lips moving as if in prayer, a look of desperation on his upturned face, his eyes searching the pitiless, burning sky fruitlessly for even the trace of a cloud.
Only a person who has lived in a drouthy county can know what joy and relief rain can bring…
…Nearly always after a big rain, some of us would go to see whether the creek [Indian Creek] was out of banks. One afternoon in the spring of 1897, we didn’t have to leave the house to know that it was out of banks and in a big way.
For several days, rain had been falling almost without a letup. Then, on the afternoon of which I am writing, the very bottom seemed to drop out of the skies. After the rain had slackened somewhat, Mother and I were sitting by the fireplace, she sewing, I reading, when Dad burst into the room. He was in a state of wild excitement.
“Sittin’ here drowning! Sittin’ here drowning! he exclaimed incoherently in a loud voice.
“Who’s drowning?” mother and I asked together.
“You! You!” returned Dad as incoherently as before.
Mother and I stared at him in bewilderment. How could we be drowning when we were inside the house and dry from head to foot?
“Look out the window! Look!” yelled dad as if exasperated beyond measure at our being so dull-witted.
We looked. The sea of water that met our eyes was a forcible reminder of what some of the pioneers had told us when we built our home so near the creek. “I’ve seen times in the early days,”they had said, “when you could have swum a horse in that flat.”
…The water was on a level with the floor of the porch when he herded us outside. The Mays’ float was passing with several people standing on it and 300-pound Mrs. Mays sitting on the back and dangling her feet off of it.
Thankfully, the Moores made their way to the Shortridge place and were out of the flood there. No one was killed when Indian Creek flooded that time, but it did destroy an old mill that was standing on the south bank of Indian Creek. It also washed away 100 bales of cotton.
Most of the time, it is hard to imagine Indian Creek with any water in it at all; however, I can remember back in the 1980s when that very creek flooded in much the same way as Godbold has recorded here. Of course, even recently, Indian Creek could be heard gurgling once again…blessedly gurgling!