Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Great High wind

There is a song I learned years ago. It's name? The Great High Wind That Blew the Low Post Down. I always wondered what it meant.

I was in WV last week at Allegheny Echoes in Marlinton, WV. teaching a backup guitar class. Weather was great!  Temps were mid 70's to mid 40's.  Suddenly, Thursday and Friday's highs were in the low 90's. Something had to give...that ain't normal for up there. I probably shouldn't tell you how nice it is up there. Next thing you know, it'll be a tourist destination with airports, motels, shopping malls etc.

Every year at Echoes on Friday night, the staff gives a free concert for the whole community. Usually about 250 people show up. It's held in a restored early 1900's Opera House that the railroad company built. The walls are poured concrete about a foot thick, a monumental feat for those parts in the day, I imagine. It was probably the safest place to be in any storm.

Everything was hunky dory when I went to the theater to stash my instrument. Coming out of the building, I notice a change in the air, and a small black cloud coming over the mountain. Goody! a small shower to cool things off. Wrong!

We were just before intermission and a group was literally singing the Hank Williams song "I Saw the Light, when the lights started blinking, and went out. The emergency lights went on, and I peeked out a window, to see tin lifting off a roof next door. The MC asked a few people to move trucks, as the wind might blow the roof off the building. The wind started in earnest.

"It blew in the valley, it blew on the hill, blew till the moon and stars stood still, blew down in hell till the devil caught a chill, it's the great  high wind that blew the low post down".


We usually have an intermission, auction off something for the scholarship fund, but there was not reason to stop now. Bob hollered above the crowd that we were gonna' keep on keeping on, as there wasn't any sense in getting out in that storm. The show must go on!

"It blew through the kitchen, and it stirrer up the soup, ruffled up the chickens in the little chicken coop, blew so hard that the rooster give a whoop! It's the great high wind that blew the low post down".

The sirens started going off, and there was sort of a roaring sound. In Georgia, you start huntin' a hole.  The guy next to me said that was the fire siren calling all hands on deck. A few men left to assume the duty of volunteer wind fighters...and didn't get home till late the next day, I imagine.

 "It blew all the eyes off a row of Irish taters, ruffled up the skins on a flock of alligators, blew away a kiss from a pair of oscullators, was the great high wind that blew the low post down".

The concert ended with Bobby Taylor fiddling up a storm. We asked him to cease and desist, we'd had enough. The storm subsided, allowing folks to get to their cars, and head home...probably to a hell of a mess. Some didn't make it home, unless they brought their chain saw with them. All power was gone, and 7 roads impassable just in Pocahontas County alone...in less than an hour.

We went back to the motel to no power, and played music 'till 2:30 in the parking lot with a near full moon peeking through the scudding clouds. We awoke to the news the entire state of WV was out of power. No gas pumps, no ice, no nothing. To make matters worse, 750,000 people were without power in a storm that lasted less than an hour.


"It blew so hard, blew the whiskers off the rye, blew so hard blew the buttons off the sky, the Lord peeked out and said. "Well why, it's the great high wind that blew the low post down".

I'm sure at least 100,000 thousand trees that fell before the mighty breeze. Just nature's way of pruning. Some folks were bitchin' because Greenbrier Invitational Golf Tournament might have to be postponed. Poor Tiger Woods...gonna miss a paycheck. Some were indignant the power company allowed the storm to happen!

"The sheep in the fields took shelter in the trees, but the trees they fell before the mighty breeze, my poor old cow got blown across the sea, it was the great high wind that blew the low post down."

I was a little surprised the weather service didn't see it coming, yet they have a name for that particular kind of storm, They have naned it a Derecho, meaning straight line, or something like that. That particular Dorecho tracked 700 miles in 10 hours. and "tore up Jack", as my Mama would say. We in WV are the last to know almost everything.

 "It blew on valleys, and it blew on the hills, blew till the moon and the stars stood still, blew down in hell till the devil caught a chill, it's the great high wind that blew the low post down".

It ain't nothing new, the song came over from Ireland a long time ago.

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