Opinion: Hurricane days were like snow days
Sep 29, 2022, 6:00 AM | Updated: Nov 16, 2022, 1:57 pm
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SALT LAKE CITY — I spent three of my middle and high school years at a school in Fort Lauderdale, Florida called Pine Crest. Hurricane days were like snow days.
When you’re 13, you don’t worry about boiling water or oranges left on the tree becoming projectiles. You watch grown-ups do funny things, like taping a big X on all the windows so, if they break, they won’t shatter into a thousand pieces.
(Does that really work?)
I left my home in Pennsylvania to attend Pine Crest because I was a swimmer. My parents sent me in the seventh grade, not to get rid of me, although that was an added benefit. I went because Pine Crest had one of the best swimming programs in the country under a legendary coach named Bob Miller.
Miller was the U.S. National Team coach at several international competitions and Olympic games, but back in 1976, he coached my school team. He was a driver. We worked out twice a day, every day except Sunday, from 5:30 to 7:30 in the morning and 3 to 5 in the afternoon.
I smelled like chlorine for three years.
I remember one hurricane in particular that came in 1979 right after I arrived back at school. And I think it was Hurricane David, which sticks in my memory because that is my brother’s name. We got to stay in the dorms all day. Classes were canceled, and miracle of miracles, so was swim practice. Miller never canceled practice unless there was a hurricane. We swam outside once in snow, the first snow in south Florida in 50 years.
The day of Hurricane David, my roommates and I moved our beds away from the windows, as we were instructed to do, and listened to the storm outside. We lost power for a few hours, so we all looked out the window most of the day. We saw garbage cans, the big ones, roll down the street next to miscellaneous stuff someone forgot to take inside, like bikes, boxes and basketballs. I saw a Volkswagen Bug go down the street – sideways – with no driver.
We didn’t feel the fear of it, like I’m sure my parents did. The lines were down for a time, and my parents weren’t able to reach me until the storm passed. As soon as I could, I called them to tell them I was OK.
Better than OK. I got a day off for the hurricane.