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. What's more, Charles Orloff is doing a commemorative book on Carol for Blue Hill Observatoryand would love to hear from you as well. So if you have something to share, please:
Send me email, Greg Stone
Or send email to Charles Orloff at Blue Hill Observatory.
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>
From the Providence Journal, August 31, 2004
As a boy, he shot film of Hurricane Carol that endures 50 years later on Web site
The photos, Greg Stone says, are "what a 13-year-old boy saw and snapped with a simple camera."
09:16 AM EDT on Tuesday, August 31, 2004
BY SCOTT LOWE Journal Environment Writer
Armed with a small camera, a roll of film, and a wildly adventurous streak, Greg Stone, then 13, documented the damage left by Hurricane Carol around his boyhood Barrington home.
Now a Westport retiree, he recounts those harrowing days 50 years ago.
"My whole interest in photography started with Hurricane Carol," he said. "I took photos the next day with my little box camera, developed several sets, and sold them to neighbors. I made enough money to buy a real 35mm camera."
Stone's photography five decades ago has survived to become a first-person history of the storm. He feels that Barrington's ordeal has garnered little mention in the history books. A retired Web developer, he still has 21 of the 24 original shots, and has posted them for posterity at http://giveyoujoy.net/natural_high/hurricane_carol/, along with firsthand accounts.
"They are not great photography. They just happen to be what a 13-year-old boy saw and snapped with a simple camera at the time," Stone prefaces on his site.
"The originals are small and curling in a box somewhere and would probably get lost," he said. "I did it with my family and grandchildren in mind so they could see them and be able to keep them."
Journal photo / Bob Thayer Go to Greg Stone's Web site and you'll see this photo - along with about two dozen others - that he took in 1954 of Hurricane Carol's aftermath. The car is trapped in rising floodwaters near the Barrington Yacht Club.
Stone's photos include jaw-dropping sights such as childhood friends rowing down Mathewson Road as the eye of the hurricane was passing, cars submerged in water and boats dropped on town streets, as well as floating debris so thick that he and a friend walked on water 30 feet from shore.
Stone recounts the gravity of the situation. "Fifty years doesn't seem that long ago. Nineteen people in Rhode Island lost their lives, and many more lost their homes," he said. "I remember when I was 13, and everyone at that time was talking about the hurricane of '38 . . . That seemed like ancient times."
The $30 he got for his photography helped spark an interest in freelance writing and photography. One year after Carol, a boat burned in Barrington Harbor and he sold his photos to The Journal, marking the first time his work was published. His writings have also been used by publications such as Popular Science and The New York Times.
Later, he became interested in computing, and was the director of Internet development for the University of Massachusetts in Amherst until retiring two years ago. Now he does Web work for nonprofit organizations.
STONE'S WEB SITE also has a collection of first-person accounts from other residents, detailing what they saw from their houses in places ranging from Oceanside, N.Y., to South Boston. He also provides basic hurricane information and links, and enables users to order a booklet of his original 21 prints.
He said one of the more symbolic memories was of a Barrington Beach dotted with broken televisions.
"I remember seeing all those TVs on the beach. The early '50s was the first big wave of this new, experimental piece of technology, and it said something about the damage to homes of the Bay," he said. "It seemed to say something to me about Mother Nature against technology, and how easily we can be battered."
Stone's wife, Brenda, lived next door to him as a child in 1954, and has her own recollection of the event.
"I had never been through anything like that before, and it was kind of exciting," she said. "I remember the water rising and coming over Mathewson Road, and thinking, 'will it get as far as our house?' Luckily, our house was on a slight incline."
She also recounted watching a boater trying to weather the storm. Stone said the storm struck too suddenly for most people to properly moor their boats, and this neighbor wanted to prevent his boat from crashing, and other boats from crashing into him.
The Stones have been married for 42 years, and have been friends for 57.
She added that with the electricity out for days, her family found other ways to cope.
"School was delayed in starting, and what my dad ate for breakfast was very important for him, so he used the charcoal grill to cook toast and other things," she said. "At night, my family and Greg's would get together to play Scrabble by candlelight."
Brenda said she is proud of the photographic history her husband has preserved. "It's great that they are there for people to see," she said, "and many have brought forth their own recollections."Scott Lowe has a fellowship with the Metcalf Institute for Marine and Environmental Reporting. He can be reached at slowe [at] projo.com