October 25, 2016

Hugo 1989 – Charleston Trip

My Trip to Charleston After Hugo

It was a couple weeks after Hugo that I rode up to Charleston with a friend who lived in Fernandina Beach, Florida. His mother lived in Charleston and my friend Sheryl lived in a suburb of the city.

In 1989, Hugo had veered more northeast and mostly bypassed Amelia Island, but it made a direct hit on Charleston. I had kept in contact with my friend until her phone and power went out. The last I had heard was that the authorities were advising everyone to evacuate to near Columbia where there might be accommodations.  I waited and hoped she was OK, but it took a while to hear from her, as you would expect. Keep in mind, we too had evacuated from Amelia Island, and we didn’t have cell phones in those days!

Sheryl had ridden out the storm at home in Goose Creek, and from what she told me later it was something she would never want to do again. One of the reasons she didn’t want to leave home is that she had three cats that she would have had to take care of in a shelter too. I’m sure her thinking was that the cats would be happier in their own home rather than being jolted around in a car and temporarily in a motel. Just for the record, veterans of hurricanes already have a plan on what to do and make their getaways early on. That means, motels fill up mighty fast. You snooze, you lose.

As Rufus and I rode along, closer and closer to the Charleston area we began to see the swath of wind devastation. At one point on SR 17 it looked similar to the blowdown of trees from Mt. St. Helens. Instead of fir trees though, these were pine trees natural in that region. The way they got the highway open was to just cut the trees off near the road and open a path. I had been on this trip before with Rufus and to see these same trees just completely wiped out was shocking. Both of us were wondering just what we would find further on.

I knew from talking to Sheryl that the damage to home in her area of Goose Creek was amazing. When I got there and she and I had a chance to drive around her neighborhood there was debris everywhere. The image that sticks in my memory though is of a tree trunk sticking out of the side of someone’s house. Just like a javelin had been launched into it and it stuck. As you can see from the storm surge map I’ve included from the NOAA site, even far inland the surge had some impact.

All in all, everyone I knew had survived the storm. I did talk to our son about where he was and it turned out he had stayed with a friend in Yulee just off of Amelia Island. After twenty-seven years my memory had failed me. I thought he had gone with us to Tallahassee. My bad.


Happy Pi Day Birthday Will Knox Yates

Cerilda, Myra & Jim Yates

One hundred and twenty-three years ago today, a second baby boy was born to Jim and Cerilda Breedlove Yates in Oregon County, Missouri. His name was William Knox Yates and he was my grandfather. (Cerilda and Jim Yates are seated; Jim’s sister Myra is standing).

I don’t have any pictures of my grandpa Yates as a small boy. I think the earliest one I have is the hunting photo I posted (see link below), and I think Grandpa was around 20 years old. Two years later Grandpa would be inducted into the Army artillery at Ft. Dodge, Iowa and sent off to France for WWI service. I don’t have any pictures of him in uniform.

1912 Washington State Gun Fanatics


When Grandpa came back from service overseas, everyone in the family was worried that he might have brought home the Spanish Flu (he didn’t). He and my grandma Minnie Smith married 29 June 1917, most likely when Will came home from the war.

William Knox and Minnie Caroline Smith Yates_0

Their first child, William Gale Yates (my dad) was born 16 March 1920 in Howell County, Missouri. Most likely, it was a home birth as my maternal grandmother’s mother Mary Elizabeth Pentecost Smith Yates (Will’s father Jim and Minnie’s mother Mary were married) was a midwife of sorts for the family. The photo below is my dad William G. Yates, age about 4 months.



1912 Washington State Gun Fanatics

Gun Fanaticism Or Just Practicality?

Admittedly, I don’t really know what these men really felt about their guns and how ‘fanatical’ they might have been about using them. Anything I say here about them comes from my own views of how my family used their rifles, how they talked about them, and our family history with guns.

First, a little background on the people in this picture and where it was taken. From left to right is George Martin, obviously older than the other men in the picture. Next is William K Yates (my paternal grandfather, age 20), unknown man, and far right is Will Yates’ older brother Lemuel W Yates (age 25). On the back of this picture postcard is the postmark of “July 6, 1912 Union Mills, Washington.” I suppose it’s possible that the picture was taken somewhere else and then made into a postcard sent from Washington.

George Martin, Will Yates, , Lem Yates

All that said, I do believe it was taken near Union Mills, WA. I’m not showing the back of the postcard here, but I do have the original and it has been clipped along the edges, and the original message on the postcard was written in pencil and is now so light after 115 years I’m unable to read it. Union Mills, Washington was located in Thurston County near what is now the town of Lacey and was base for the Union Lumber Company.

Union Lumber Co. History

Source: Encyclopedia of Western Railroad History: Oregon, Washington

 By Donald B. Robertson

So, were they fanatics about their guns? I think they were in the sense that they felt they were a invaluable tool which they could always use to hunt game to feed their families. Or, at least supplement the larder at home. Considering there were no freezers of size at the time I assume they would dress their game in the woods if it was large like a deer, perhaps cutting it in smaller sections to be shared as they saw fit, and much of it eaten immediately. In this picture, I don’t think the men were actively hunting, but rather ‘posing’ for the photographer to make it look like an interesting tableau. The reason I say that is because it was probably taken and sent in July as the postmark indicates, and hunting season wasn’t until much later in the fall.

One thing I do know from my family history with my dad, “Never touch my gun” was law in our house and neither my brother nor I ever considered going against that edict. The men in my family (none of the women hunted, as far as I know) were fanatics about gun safety. I don’t think any of the hunters in the family ever used pistols because it just wouldn’t have been practical for their needs. I do know that when my dad hunted in he used a .30-06. I wonder what happened to that rifle. I bet my brother has it.


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