Where were you when the mountain blew?

I was around 9 1/2 years old and keenly aware of the possibility of a volcanic eruption as it was being broadcast on national, as well as local, news on an almost nightly basis.

May 18, 1980, was a Sunday. I remember playing outside before having to be dragged to Sunday School when a neighbor kid came over and said, "Our friends from Castle Rock just called and said the mountain blew!"


Living in West Valley (Yakima) gave us a pretty good view of the Cascade Range, so my dad jumped onto the roof of our house and -- sure enough -- he could see a plume of smoke in the air, and it was headed our way!

Of the things I remember most about that once-in-a-century day was the hysteria I witnessed by grown adults at the church who truly thought the end was nigh.

I also remember that driving on it was akin to driving on snow. The roads were very slippery as evidenced by our old family VW Beetle skidding to and fro in our lane.

I won't soon forget getting to my grandmother's house, which was very close to the church,


to check up on her. As a person who had learned many more survival tactics, she impressed me by having the foresight to fill every tub and sink with water in case the supply was contaminated by the falling ash.

And who could possibly forget when day turned to night in just a few hours?


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