Remembering Hurricane Carol
Did you witness Hurricane Carol in 1954? Tell me about it! And if you have a picture you're willing to share, that's all the better. I'd love to hear from you and I'll add what you have to say to our "Your Views" page. So if you have something to share, please:
Send me email, Greg Stone
This was a real nice shock - the Providence Journal called for what I assumed was a few paragraphs in a general story about Hurricane Carol. Instead it turned out to be a story devoted to this Web site and it ran on Page 1 on the 50th anniversary of the Hurricane.
They did an excellent job and the result was a real surge of hits on the Web site and many new stories from people about their own experiences. (What I like most about this was I didn't promote the Web site to them - they discovered the web site on their own and contacted me. )if you have a problem getting to it, try here.
In 1954 I was 13 and the most exciting thing to happen was Hurricane Carol. I took pictures during the storm and after the storm, made them into sets, and sold them to neighbors. Here are the pictures and my memories along with those of family and friends. Greg Stone 1>
Riding it out
The 1938 hurricane had taken 317 lives in Rhode Island - but it had also struck by surprise and as night was falling. Carol was less deadly, though 19 Rhode Islanders were killed in it. But narrow the world down to what I could see from my front yard on Mathewson Road overlooking Barrington harbor, and no one seemed overly concerned about being killed - but folks were very concerned about losing their boats. Several, including my brother Don's Beetle Cat, "Pout," were pulled out in a rush as the storm intensified.
But as the winds grew to a steady 80-100 mph and the water looked as angry as the sky, a few intrepid yachtsmen like "Bubsy" Gladding rode out the storm in their boats. Bren and I watched in amazement from inside our homes as Mr. Gladding kept his Egg Harbor power boat, "The Egg and I," pointed into the wind. He hovered near the end of the dock at Harbor Road - a dock, like all others, that was either submerged or in wreckage. It seemed to some of us like a risky thing to do, but to a sailor it made sense. Boats at moorings frequently broke loose and were smashed against the unforgiving concrete of the Barrinton or Warren bridges. And even those whose moorings held, were sometimes smashed into by other boats that had broken loose. So stay onboard, keep the engines going, point her into the wind and keep a sharp lookout.
I believe that's Tommy and Dickie rowing out near the power cruiser. If you look real hard in the background on the left you can see a couple of boats bottom up. And when I blow this up on the computer and look closely at the right, just above someone's head, I can see the "Tango," coming to rest in a corner of the Ships Store on the other side of the river. This collection once contained a picture of that and the Barrington Yacht Club Web site describes the incident this way: "Ernie McVay's 37 foot Auxiliary Cutter 'Tango' . . . actually takes out a corner of the Ships Store (Tyler Point Grill), with its bow ending up on Dave Atwater's desk." (Dave was the owner of the Ships Store.) That picture is now among the missing, sad to say, although I guess there's a wild chance that someone who bought one of my original collections of prints still has a copy.
Despite all efforts, the many boats that were the heart and soul of a summer life, took a terrible beating. My brother Don remembers one of our neighbors, the rugged Frank Whittemore, out there helping people save their boats during the early hours of the storm. His own, a beautiful, sleek racing machine known as a "110," did well for most of the storm, but it eventually broke loose, smashed against something, and broke in two. This class of racing sailboat was long and very narrow, with a heavy keel. I can still remember one half of his boat floating in the river, bow sticking straight up, looking like a tall, red buoy.
And hauling boats out was no guarantee of safety. Another neighbor - it may have been John Stewart - hauled a small skiff well up onto our lawn where the water couldn't reach it. But a ittle while later I watched as a huge gust of wind grabbed it, and tossed it end-over-end across the lawn like a child's toy, the battered remains landing in the water and heading off quickly in the direction of the Barrington Bridge.