Sometimes the most memorable tales from a story don’t make it out of a reporter’s notebook onto the printed page, for one reason or another.
Meet Olga Johnson of Longfellow. Last Friday, she had what’s probably the most exciting night in her house on 34th Avenue S. since she moved in when Ike was president.
When the storm struck, this octogenarian widow didn’t head for the basement like her neighbors. “I didn’t think of it,” she said. She peered through her windows as 60 mile-an-hour winds tossed branches around and felled the boulevard elm with the yard-thick trunk that’s been her streetside sentinel .
But that was just the beginning. Someone smelled gas, and soon a firefighter was at her door telling her she had to leave until the gas was shut off. She walked off down the alley and soon a nearby resident invited her in to share the porch until the all-clear. She didn’t get to bed until around 2 a.m.
But her sleep was interrupted by a boom and then voices. A car slammed into the immovable elm stretched across the road in the dark, sending five people, including two children, to the hospital.
Next day, a motorcyclist decided to take a short cut through her front yard to detour around the tree. Later, she had to shoo off skateboarders who found the tipped slab of her sidewalk to be irresistible.
She was still waiting for the gas company to restore her service on Monday. She got her electricity back after a mere 13 hours, far better than others in the area. Ironically, she bought a gas range years ago because people advised her that she couldn’t cook with electricity if the power was off.
She expects she’ll need to water her yard more often without the shade of her elm. The east-facing porch will be hotter in the morning. “The realization of the tree being down to stay makes me feel sad,” she said.