What it was like: A child’s perspective of a natural disaster

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The September 1938 hurricane caused terrible flooding across the state. Photo courtesy of SBHS.

On Sept. 21, 1938, a major hurricane wreaked havoc along the eastern seaboard, especially in New England. Connecticut lost over 680 lives from this storm and Hartford was flooded so badly that the Park River was buried under the city so such an occurrence would not happen again. After the 1938 hurricane, the Granby school district, along with many others, had students record what they remembered from the storm. Below are excerpts of how students who attended the one-room schools in Granby described the 1938 hurricane.

The Seashore After the Hurricane

The Sunday after the hurricane we went for a ride by the shore. The sights that I saw there I shall never forget. Some cottages were so badly damaged that the people could hardly recognize them. I saw some cottages that were swept off their foundations. One cottage was thrown into bushes and swamp. Some people lost most of their belongings. It will take a long time before things are cleaned up.

David Hart, Grade 7, Suffield

We went to Suffield Sunday. We saw all the trees and tobacco sheds that were down. The top of the church is blown off. I counted about fifteen tobacco sheds that had fallen over in Suffield. I didn’t think anything could happen like that in Connecticut. I knew that they had such things in the south.

Jean Goddard, Grade 5

The Hurricane

The wind blew down three of Mr. Griffin’s tobacco barns. The wind blew down one of Mr. Bunnell’s tobacco barns. A tree fell down on the road and my father had to chop it so cars could go by. Some trees fell on the wires and broke them so that some people couldn’t have electricity for about six days. Down by the canal five trees are up by the roots. One tree broke over.

Bertram Dewey, Grade 5

The Flood

The water will surprise

The way it can rise

Then every man must hike

Down to the dike

To work with all his might

Both day and night.

Roy Burham, Grade 8

The Hurricane

I saw the hurricane. It was a terrible storm.

It rained hard. The water was on the road.

The water was in the fields. I could not get to school.

Mary Barnard, Grade 2

The Hurricane

The water ran over our bridge. Daddy drove the Tractor over it. It went through the water. We milked our cows with the tractor.

Roger Hayes, Grade 2

The Hurricane

Was the first day of fall

Now listen to me all

Up came a wind, oh so great

It blew and blew

And we all knew

The damage it would do

To both me and you.

Paul Mazuk, Grade 5

These are just a few examples of children preserving their memories of the historic 1938 hurricane; saved so we can reflect on our past to understand our present.

Effects of Covid-19 Pandemic

In the May 2020 issue of the Granby Drummer, Carol Laun, a member of the Salmon Brook Historical Society, asked Granby students to write about the Covid-19 pandemic.

Laun asked: “How has the pandemic affected your life? How is your family coping with the ‘stay at home’ scene for work and school? What do you miss? How did you pass the time? Your participation will become a part of Granby history. We encourage children to draw pictures or write stories about the changes in their lives. The children of today will tell their children and grandchildren how it was to live through the 2020 pandemic.”

As you have read, we still have those hurricane student reports from over 80 years ago and would like to continue to include the perspective of Granby students and children in our archives at the Salmon Brook Historical Society

We ask Granby students to continue to send their thoughts on the pandemic, whether in writing or a drawing, to Salmon Brook Historical Society, P.O. Box 840, Granby, CT 06035. We encourage teachers to ask students, and parents to ask their children, to participate. This is just one way of recording history for future generations.

Want to read more students accounts of the 1938 flood or find out how Granby survived the 1955 flood or the blizzard of 1888? Join the Salmon Brook Historical Society by calling 860-653-9713 or visiting salmonbrookhstoricalsociety.com