Eight days ago was the ‘BIG BLACKOUT’! That first Sunday night was kind of exciting looking for candles, for old Coleman Lanterns, for batteries, and for something to eat for dinner that didn’t require ‘cooking’. By daylight Monday morning it was obvious that a quick trip to Dorothy Lane Market was necessary. It was so early that any-old-grubs-and-no-make-up would be ‘safe’.
Dorothy Lane at eight was like one big Oakwood Block Party! Everyone was in grubs, wore a big smile, asked: “…do you have power… we’re here buying breakfast…”.
By Monday afternoon reality struck and the phone calls for batteries, flashlights, and candles began. “We’re sold out!” was always the answer for every store south of town. Hank Hull found ‘D’ batteries for the radio, and propane canisters for the Coleman lamps – in Vandalia. Radio Shack had one ‘cell-phone charger’ left – one that would plug into your car.
One old Tudor house in a heavily damaged area has an English basement laundry room – with two old gas burners! So, ‘boiling’ water, soup, etc. was possible. Terry Holton bought a generator so her refrigerator worked – but nothing that was on ‘220’. “But the noise that engine made!”
George & Evie Kling came over and were bragging about a two-inch TV someone had given them years ago…”we found it and it worked!” With that another guest jumped up, rushed downstairs to the pantry, grabbed a seven-in TV off the breakfast table – and it could be run on ten ‘C’ batteries! So, off to Vandalia – and they still had twenty ‘C’ batteries.
As the week wore on the first question asked when the phone or the doorbell rang was: “Do you have power yet?” The other ‘constant’ was another several-times-daily-trip to Dorothy Lane. Their Centerville store was ‘dark’ so produce, meats, and staff were at the Oakwood’s store. It was great to see Julia who’d been at ‘our’ store for so many years. Jim & Mary Lou Van Tassel were always there. “We buy breakfast, lunch, and dinner here every day and take it home.” Norm Mayne was seen buying some pre-cooked dinners. He was swamped by customers thanking him for his fantastic service to Oakwood…including the ‘10% off coupon’ received in the mail “…to use when you’re restocking your frig-and-pantries.”
Karl & Donna Summers were at DLM buying supplies. They live in sub-rural Waynesville. Donna’s a Professor of Engineering at Univ. of Dayton, and both Donna & Karl hunted with the MVH. “We’re just back from Malta. We loved it…it was everything as you said, and we only went because of your recommendation.
Wise Glossinger came by. “Son David (Oakwood High School grad) is here from Cincinnati to play in the Stroh’s Open…it’s their 30th year for the tournament held at Community Golf Course. John Henry is the only player who’s been in the tourney since it began.
“David’s gotten into the timber business…in Nicaragua with, of all things…Ralph Donnenfeld’s son! Ralph was in my class at Steele High School.
When the DP&L crews began working on Thornhill and Oakwood Avenues replacing broken poles, cutting trees off downed power lines… the neighbors were out chatting-them-up and thanking them for all their hard work. Diane & Dick DeWall, Jay & Suzie Woodhull …had their own block-party. There were crews from Missouri, Tennessee, and North Carolina who’d been in Louisiana, and Texas for the past eighteen days. “We’ve been putting in eighteen hour days and haven’t been home for weeks. Can’t promise when you’ll have lights…we just work where we’re directed.”
And by eight-thirty Sunday night – after eight dark days – “…then there was light!”