Let's take the tornado tour

June 24, 1998

Tim Rowland

Goodness, another day, another tornado.

When did Hagerstown turn into Kansas all of a sudden? Who do we look like, Auntie Em?

All last week people right and left were claiming to see funnel clouds. But this is Washington County, I thought. We have mountains that I've always been taught prevent tornadoes. Maybe they mean they saw funnel cakes.

All I can figure is that one of the cloud seeders went bad.

He's up there in his single-engine Cessna seeding the clouds with Pop Rocks.

And what a year for Valley Mall. A major new and competing mall announces it's moving into Washington County, Prime Outlets of Hagerstown is gearing up and there's talk of yet another shopping center along the interstate.

Managers at Valley Mall had to have been sitting around a table saying "What else could possibly happen, ha ha, a tornado?


A moment here so I can recount my favorite tornado joke. It's along the lines of phrases no one has ever said before, such as "hand me that piano" and "please saw my legs off." This one goes "Look, I do believe the tornado is going to miss that trailer park."

That's what's so amazing about last week. We have too many tornadoes to count and to my knowledge we didn't lose a single trailer park. That has to be a record of some kind.

Instead, they hit the mall, Wal-Mart, a cemetery and a golf course.

What's God trying to tell us? Don't use your inheritance money to go to the store and buy golf clubs?

By the looks of it, Fountain Head country club just got about three strokes easier, what with all the downed timber. Now you really have to bring your own woods.

And you notice they all took roughly the same path along the interstate. I guess the tornadoes heard all the talk about widening I-81 and figured...

One thing the tornadoes should have wiped out, but didn't, was a flock of Muscovy Ducks at the lake in City Park, which police say were attacking passersby. I'd have trouble reporting that, I believe. "Yes officer, I was attacked. By what? By a - a - oh never mind."

But what are we doing bringing ducks in from Old Muscovy? Is it any wonder these commie pinko waterfowl would come to no good?

One woman was just walking a path, not minding the ducks in any way, when old Crazy Ivan ran up from behind and bit her in the leg.

Picnickers, too, had complained they were being harassed by these wild, outlaw birds, which have since been relocated to some sort of duck reservation where they will no-doubt open a casino and get rich off busloads of the quarter-toting elderly from Philadelphia.

My solution for attack ducks would be the same as it is for the crows. Shoot them. There's a good recipe, I swear, on the Web for "Crispy Breast of Muscovy Duck." But of course we can't do that, because we might hurt the ducks' feelings if we shoot them. Never have I seen a community with such a love affair with guns and such a bias against using them.

But back to the weather, after watching the one millionth car slam on the brakes and creep by the campus to inspect the damage, Hagerstown Business College President Jim Gifford reportedly stopped considering tornadoes as an element of meteorology and began to consider them as an element of tourism.

If we could start bringing people in from the cities to inspect the damage, it could be a real boost for local hotels and restaurants.

If people will drive 90 minutes to see a tree, imagine how far they will come to see a tree that has been blown over. What makes a horizontal tree so much more compelling than a vertical tree is something I haven't figured out. In the absence of twisted trailers, I suppose, one has to look at something.

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