The Storm of '35
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The Storm of '35
By Bob McCowan

An interesting day in August 1935 on the McCowan farm at Kingston and McCowan Roads...

The day had dawned hot and humid. We finished cutting and stooking a field of oats near the barn and had just moved to another field down the sideroad. A long black cloud appeared on the north western horizon and began moving towards us. My Dad, who was running the binder, called me over and said it looks like a storm – we should get to the barn. So we unhitched the horses, covered the binder and I headed home with the team. There was a bush on the west side of "McCowan" road and I could not see the approaching cloud. My uncle had driven his car to the field and they caught up to me and told me I had better "get a move on" or I would get wet. So I got the horses on the trot. At the time, the air was deadly still and when I cleared the bush I was surprised to see how fast the cloud was approaching. All along its leading edge was a long pitch black rolling mass indicating high winds. By the time I got to the yard gate the wind had started up bringing with it large drops of rain that kicked up the dust in barn yard and sent the hens scurrying for cover. At the barn, half a dozen hands quickly separated the horses and led them inside. We slammed the door shut and put a brace against it. Of course as the storm approached, there was a lot of thunder and lightning. But now as the cloud came overhead, the fireworks were absolutely terrific and then the rain came mixed with hail and driven by the wind that must have been a hundred miles per hour. It lasted about half an hour and then we could go outside to see what damage had been done. Nothing major had happened except for a few broken branches. Our newly stooked oat field was flat – sheaves all over the place. Farther on we could see that five or six poles that carried the trolley wire had been blown over.

We kids were curious to see what would happen when the streetcar came along Kingston Road. When it did, the car’s pole came off the wire and the street car stopped. The driver got out, surveyed the scene, secured the trolley pole, got back aboard, let off the brakes and coasted back down the hill till he could reattach to the wire. Then he backed up farther and took a run at the hill where the poles were down. He didn’t make it. So he tried again. This time he backed to the top of the hill on the east side of Bellamy ravine. Then he gave her full throttle down the hill and up the other side. He didn’t quite make it but by using the trolley pole on the other end of the car, he could just manage to reach the sagging trolley wire at the first upright pole. So, he was able to get the car going again and finish his run. Needless to say -- there was no street car service east of our place for a couple of days.

While the storm was at its worst my grandmother had gone upstairs to see what may have been hit by a particularly sharp bolt of lightning. I suppose the house was dark and she tripped over a rug and fell, hurting herself. The doctor finally arrived -- she had broken her hip. So he put her in a cast and in bed and got a full time nurse to look after her. The doctor said it would probably be twelve weeks for the hip to heal. Unfortunately several weeks later pneumonia settled in and she died.

It had been an interesting and eventful day!

From The Scarboro Heights Record V6 #1