Okay little Thoughts, stay here and play for a while. Have fun and don’t hurt each other. You’ve all been cooped up in my brain far too long. Brainy needs a good airing!
My story begins during the summer of 1983. I had just graduated from the 8th grade and was about to enter high school.
We lived two miles outside of the small town of Roxton, Texas, on 40 acres of virtually unused land. Every summer, if he could make the arrangements, my father would have a local farmer mow and bale the grassy portion of our acreage. The farmer was allowed to keep half of the hay and we would keep the other half. Occasionally my father would sell a few odd bales to an interested party but more often than not, those big round bales would be left to rot.
During the summer we took it pretty easy. My father worked the evening shift in Paris, so my mother, brother and I would spend the evenings together. We didn’t have air conditioning in our little mobile home though, so outside of chores the majority of our time was spent indulging in idle leisure activities in an attempt to survive the Texas heat. Watching TV was out of the question, however. During our seven years in Roxton we lived without television for all but one month – the month we had a standing antenna. Our solution to television reception was taken out by a storm and no further attempts were made to fix the problem.
So Mom, Scott and I would usually spend our time reading. On Saturdays we would make the 16-mile trip to Paris and back to do our laundry at the laundromat and go grocery shopping. On Sundays we made the same trip to attend church.
Prior to our 1979 move to Roxton, we lived in Dallas, where Mom sometimes went to seminars – a virtually free method of continuing her education in a variety of subjects. One such seminar dealt with the speaker’s prediction that the world would end (a.k.a. “the Second Coming of Christ”) in the year 2000. In spite of her acceptance that the end would occur around the turn of the century, Mom would always stress the fact that “Only God knows when it will happen. It could happen tomorrow!” (I wasn’t at all pleased with the world ending tomorrow!)
During our Saturday trips from Roxton to Paris, Mom would usually take us to the Paris Public Library to stock up on reading material for the upcoming week. During this particular summer, I had developed an interest in the Titanic and checked out every book I could find related to the tragedy. I spent the following week immersing myself in the history of the Titanic. I found that most of the books made reference to a handful of people who avoided a tragic end after having premonitions of doom, so after learning all I could about the Titanic, I became obsessed with the subjects of premonitions, predictions and prophecies. The following Saturday I checked out several books about these phenomena, including “The Prophecies of Nostradamus”.
I threw myself into Nostradamus’ prophecies and was amazed by several of them. One predicted that America and Russia would become allies. When I told Mom about the prediction regarding our cold war enemy, Mom responded, “Oh, that already happened. We were allies in World War II.”
Unbeknownst to Mom, she had just given me a reason to have an undying faith in Nostradamus and his prophecies. Now I allowed myself to view the book as more than just a novelty. I referred to the interpretation of every quatrain dealing with the present and future – from 1983, onward. I read about a great hail storm which would cause death and destruction. People would starve after giant boulders of hail wiped out all the crops and livestock. One way to avoid this calamity, however, would be to embrace the death of being targeted by an icy boulder! The year this was to take place? 1984!
Nostradamus’ “great hail storm” prediction was the beginning of a 17-month long panic attack.
I threw the book down on my bed and ran to the living room, “Mom! Mom! The world’s not going to end in 2000! It’s happening next year! What if I’m at school when the hail comes? What if it kills the whole family, except for me, and I have to end up living like Grizzly Adams? What if Jesus forgets to save me? What if…”
“Vicki Lynn,” Mom interrupted, “what on earth are you talking about?”
“A great hail storm! Boulders of ice! In 1984! Nostradamus said so! We’re all gonna die!“
“Vicki, it’s just a prediction. It probably won’t even happen. Don’t worry about it.”
“But Russia! He was right about Russia! We’re all gonna die!”
“Just because he accurately predicted one thing does not make him a true prophet. True prophets are called by God.”
It was obvious that Mom wasn’t going to support my newly-acquired knowledge, so I went to work looking for signs – the signs mentioned in Revelations, mixed with Nostradamus’ prediction of an icy haily hell.
“What’s this?” I asked.
Pleased as punch that I took an interest in her little display, she responded, “That is George Orwell’s book, ‘1984’. He wrote it in 1948 about a future when people were no longer allowed to think for themselves. I highly recommend it.” Then she added, with a wink, “1984 is just around the corner, you know,” (She had no idea that she had just fed the Panic Monster, allowing it to become stronger and more insane than before.)
I checked out the book and spent the next week warning Mom of the perils which awaited us in the upcoming year.
“It’s just a book, Vicki,” my mother sighed, “It’s fiction. Look at the copyright page. Doesn’t it say that it’s fiction?”
Fiction or nonfiction – it didn’t matter to me! Nostradamus and George Orwell both agreed that 1984 was going to be hell … and I was the only one who believed them! It would be up to me to save the family from death by hail and doublespeak!
Christmas came and went and was a welcome distraction from my mania … until I caught Mom telling Grandma and Aunt Kathy about my fear of 1984 after Christmas dinner. I eavesdropped until I heard them all giggling about the matter. That’s when I burst into the room and said, “You just wait and see! You’ll be sorry for not listening to me when we’re all dead!”
Several months passed and it was now spring of 1984 and with spring, in Texas, come the spring storms.
I was looking out of my bedroom window on one rainy, spring day, wishing I could be outside … and that’s when I saw it! A pebble of ice fell from the sky, followed by another pebble … and another.
“IT’S THE END OF THE WORLD!” I screamed, while I hurriedly put on my socks and shoes.
I ignored Mom’s attempt to calm me down. She simply wasn’t taking the matter seriously. I rushed into the kitchen after my shoes were securely on my feet to scream my warning in her face.
“IT’S THE END OF THE WORLD!”
“Calm down! It’s just pea-sized hail. It’ll be over before you know it.”
“Baseballs will be next,” I warned, “then boulders – ice the size of cars! Get dressed! Put on your shoes!”
It was obviously up to me to save my family, so I rushed into Scott’s room, where he was reading a book, and made the announcement: “IT’S THE END OF THE WORLD! Get dressed!“
As I was leaving Scott’s room I heard him utter the words “worry wart” under his breath – which had been his nickname for me since about the age of five. But I didn’t have time to get upset with Scott’s taunting. I was too busy trying to ensure that the ice boulders didn’t crush us.
Mom had finished her work in the kitchen and was now seated in the living room reading a book. “Am I the only one who doesn’t want to die today? Put your shoes on!”
I then took refuge under the kitchen table. It wasn’t an ideal place to hide from the killer ice, but it was the best I could do. I sat there imagining how I would live in a world with few humans and virtually no vegetation when suddenly something massive hit the side of our trailer.
“IT’S THE END OF THE WORLD!” I screamed from beneath the table.
“It’s just Misty,” Mom sighed.
Misty was our Saint Bernard, who hated thunder storms as much as I hated boulder-sized hail. Every time it stormed she would body-slam the trailer windows in an attempt to seek refuge. She didn’t have the sense to seek refuge under the trailer – a place to which she had easy and free access. But it didn’t matter. My heart suddenly bled for Misty.
“We have to let her in,” I said, “or she’ll be killed by the giant hail!”
“We can’t let a Saint Bernard in a 58-foot mobile home!” Mom argued.
“But she’s gonna die!”
“Look outside,” she said. “The hail stopped. It’s just raining now.”
I climbed out from under the table and looked out the window. I just knew it wasn’t over yet! The boulders would come by surprise … as soon as we let our guard down! I climbed back under the table for a while, until I became bored with the quiet and was able to go about my routine existence.
Several more months passed and it was now summer, 1984. I read the book of Revelations so I’d be aware of “the signs” of doom, but for the most part my mania was asleep. No major incident had occurred since the great pea-sized hail storm, so I was in a state of virtual calmness.
One of the great things about living out in the country is how clear and bright the night sky is. I would spend many a summer night perched atop one of our big, round hay bales, watching the stars, wondering if there was life on other planets, wondering if UFOs were real and wondering if someone else on another planet was sitting on top of a bale of hay wondering the same things.
On this particular summer night I was stargazing and thoroughly enjoying the calm night when I turned my head and looked at the rising moon … which was as red as blood … which was also a sign from the book of Revelations.
From my position on the hay bale, I screamed as loud as I could, “IT’S THE END OF THE WORLD!”
I ran in the house and found Mom cleaning up after dinner. “THE MOON’S TURNED TO BLOOD! END OF THE WORLD!”
Then it was Scott’s turn! I ran to his room where he greeted me with, “Yeah, I heard. Moon, blood, end of the world. You can go now.”
I then ran to my room to retrieve my stamp collection. I couldn’t bear the thought of being raised up into the sky while my stamp collection was left to burn.
I wasn’t exactly sure what to do at this point, but I knew I needed to be outside … where there was no ceiling to cause head injuries while I’m being levitated from the earth.
I hugged my stamp album tightly as I started running – down the driveway, past the row of hay bales and down highway 38. I was headed to town – to Roxton – when I stopped and thought about what I was doing.
If this is the end of the world, I want to be with Mom and Scott.
So I turned back around, with a death grip on my stamp collection, and went back home. I climbed back on top of the hay bale and watched the moon as it gradually lost its blood-red color and returned to a normal pale yellow.
Another false alarm!
I made it through the remainder of 1984 with no further incidents, but remained ever-watchful of the signs throughout the year. On January 1, 1985, I was able to go back to living a normal life, having lost only 17 months of my adolescence.