A Terrible Wind

December 15th 1887

What an experience I have to write. I must go back a few days. Monday December 12th was such a lovely day. I rode with Walter to the Post Office and while we waited for the mail to be distributed rode round to Mrs. Walker’s to see how they fared in a hard wind we had last Saturday night. The barn where some of their goods were stored had lost it’s roof and they were moving them but we thought we could put up with such wind for the sake of such a climate, so soft was the air, so warm the sunlight. Channing wore his cape bonnet and I my summer duster. After dinner I went for Edith taking LeBaron we went to Mrs. Alind’s driving through their beautiful orange orchard where the fruit,hanging heavy on the branches, was fast ripening. Already the golden color was contrasting with the glossy green foliage. We came home and then Millie went for May; but in the evening the wind again began to blow and it blew terribly. Walter got up and dressed and I could not sleep all night indeed none of us slept much. The house rocked and the thought of our high house and higher tower, were the greatest cause of anxiety. I felt so annoyed to think that Walter had never been told by any of the neighbors of these severe winds that he might have built accordingly. But Oh No! The wind NEVER blows in California. In the morning we found Peter’s room had been so racked by the wind that the walls had fallen in. The scuttle over the attic roof had blown off entirely falling in the garden. Oh it was a blow, but all day Tuesday it blew hard driving the dust into the house till the floors and furniture were sad to see. The wind increased in violence in the evening so we felt seriously alarmed and concluded it would not be safe to sleep upstairs. Indeed we elder thought not of sleep, but we made up a bed for the children on the floor in the library as that seemed the safest room, the wind being from the northeast. That wind!! It rocked the house, it shrieked and beat against the windows, it whistled and howled. At last Walter came into the room where Millie and I sat and said the window had broken in the children’s room and he felt the house might go, and advised our going to Mr. Pesch’s but I told him I could not think it would be safe with four little children. He felt there was a risk, and said perhaps we had better stick by the ship. Soon after there came a horrific burst of wind and the crash of broken glass. Walter rushed to the dining room, the glass door had broken in and the storm in all it’s fury burst into the room yelling like demons and blowing all before it. As soon possible Peter and Walter nailed a board against and over the broken place and braced the door. By this time no one would have known Walter, he was so covered with dust, that his face was all grey and grimed. As he again joined us and we listened in anxiety beyond words to the raging tempest, there came again the appalling sound of of crashing glass and the shrieking of the blast. The northeast dining room window had blown in. I never shall forget that time, but no one could imagine, who had not heard similar storms, the sounds that filled the room. Walter took the library closet door and tried to hold it against the window , but it was almost impossible. The curtains were flapping and cracking till Walter took them off. Then Peter brought the children’s blackboard and it took all the strength of those two men to hold it against the wind while they nailed and braced it in place. I held the lamp shielded by my circular. While they were busy there another awful crash came from the kitchen and the swinging door blew violently open and the tempest was again in the house. The back door was blown in and across the kitchen. Oh it was so awful! It sounded as if a thousand demons were gaining entrance and shrieking in their glee. The poor men when the window was finished they went to the door. Great clouds of dust had poured in and we were blinded and choked by the clouds of sand that enveloped us. Even in the library, the quietest room in the house, the dust came in so that the pillows where our darlings lay were grey and they breathed the thick choking air. After the kitchen door was nailed with a dozen great nails and had two ironing boars also nailed across it, we had a respite from that sort of work and were in the library pale and anxious, pale, no grey with anxiety, and yet Millie and I had to have one little laugh as we said. “Why we came away from Illinois to escape the winds.”

Tomorrow, Dawn breaks.


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