SUNNY CAL JOURNAL - Zapped, Stunned And Destroyed

By Bob Weaver

We believe that the Village of Hur is in the vortex of nasty west to east weather. It has always posed problems.

We get zapped.

It goes back to the single-wire "grapevine" phone which connected houses up and down the creek and out the ridges to the Hur Telephone Company, a communication marvel during the first 60 years of the 20th century.

The Hur exchange had lots of customers from Egypt Ridge in Roane County and down at Richardson to Cremo and Annamoriah.

The leap to "modern" service didn't happen until the early 1960's, and a quantum leap it was, from crank'em up to dial.

It should have been a irritation to have twenty-five customers on one line, but folks didn't know better. It was an irritation to have the lightning run into the house, ring the telephone bell, burn up the phone and send balls of fire across the kitchen floor.

Once our family cat "Fuzzball" got struck by the fireball and managed to get down behind the kitchen stove, where she stayed for hours.

Those miles of phone wire attracted the lightning bolts. It was customary to have a loop and hook on the wire that connected to the house, to quickly jerk loose until the storm went through.

Then came TV in the fabulous 50's, erecting the antenna on the highest part of the house or the highest hill. For several years in Sunny Cal, you could get one channel - WSAZ in Huntington, fuzzy as it was.

Those antennas and long ladder wires attracted lightning.

At stake was the prized family possession, a 17-inch black and white TV, whose picture tube would blow right out the front with the right kind of lightning strike.

My dad would dutifully unhook the TV and put the antenna wire down in a milk jug.

Dianne claims the Village of Hur is in some kind of weather vortex, where storms sweep through the middle of Sunny Cal from the west, and shake, rattle and roll all the earth dwellers in its path.

Our wind gage has recorded gusts to 70 mph.

She calls it the Hur Weather Anomaly, with lightning shaking sleepers right out of bed.

When we returned to Calhoun in 1995, I brought with me a gift to myself, a new short-wave radio, a hobby I enjoyed as a youth. I strung a 200 foot antenna on insulators through the trees in the backyard to pick up world-wide signals. The old "radio room" was the cellar house, a place to relax and listen. Settling back on the bed I began to fine tune the world. What wonderful reception.

Dozing off in the early morning hours, I was awakened by an explosive sound quite close to my head. Lightning struck the antenna and blew that radio plum across the room, case, small parts and all.

I just never seemed to learn my lightning lessons.

Lightning storms, over the years, have taken a toll on Calhoun's 911 center, not far from downtown Hur, even though they installed special arrestors, grounds and devices. More recently, a major effort was made to protect the center, with some success.

I am proud to say, after years of stupidity, I unhook the Hur Herald computers from the phone and electric, even though we have protective devices.

I think I have finally learned my lightning lessons. If I forget, even in the middle of the night, Dianne will say "Get up, Bob. I hear one coming."

In the high-tech communication world, here in Hur, we stick to the basics, just to get by.