In 1969, in Pass Christian, Mississippi, a group of people were preparing to have a
"hurricane party" in the face of a storm named Camille. Were they ignorant of
the dangers? Could they have been overconfident? Did they let their egos and pride
influence their decision? We'll never know.
What we do know is that the wind was howling outside the posh Richelieu Apartments when
Police Chief Jerry Peralta pulled up sometime after dark. Facing the Beach less than 250
feet from the surf, the apartments were directly in the line of danger. A man with a drink
in his hand came out to the second-floor balcony and waved. Peralta yelled up, "You
all need to clear out of here as quickly as you can. The storm's getting worse." But
as others joined the man on the balcony, they just laughed at Peralta's order to leave.
"This is my land," one of them yelled back. "If you want me off, you'll
have to arrest me."
Peralta didn't arrest anyone, but he wasn't able to persuade them to leave either. He
wrote down the names of the next of kin of the twenty or so people who gathered there to
party through the storm. They laughed as he took their names. They had been warned, but
they had no intention of leaving.
It was 10:15 p.m. when the front wall of the storm came ashore. Scientists clocked
Camille's wind speed at more than 205 miles-per-hour, the strongest on record. Raindrops
hit with the force of bullets, and waves off the Gulf Coast crested between twenty-two and
twenty-eight feet high.
News reports later showed that the worst damage came at the little settlement of
motels, go-go bars, and gambling houses known as Pass Christian, Mississippi, where some
twenty people were killed at a hurricane party in the Richelieu Apartments. Nothing was
left of that three-story structure but the foundation; the only survivor was a
five-year-old boy found clinging to a mattress the following day.
Qs Quarterly, Spring/Summer 1994, p. 10.
Scientists at the University of Pittsburgh recently reported that showers release toxic
chemicals into the air. So while we merrily lather away and sing our hearts out, these
chemicals in the water are quietly turning into vapors, exposing us to chemical
concentrations up to 10 times greater than we would receive by drinking the water. If that
doesn't scare you, look at another common activity: Handling money. According to two
University of Louisville scientists, 13 percent of all coins and 42 percent of paper money
carry infectious organisms.
"Life's Little Gambles", The Saturday Evening Post, September,
A person on railroad tracks hears a train approaching, looks behind him, sees the train
and then freezes on the tracks in fear. The train "outruns" its sound--which
means that by the time you hear it, it is virtually on top on you. If a train engineer
sees you on a track, he or she will blow the whistle. Often it takes more than one blast
to get the average person's attention, say train engineers. But trains can't stop the way
motor vehicles can. A freight train has about 100 cars, weights 12 million pounds, and
takes a full mile to stop. An optical illusion happens with tracks. When you see a train
coming, it looks as if it is traveling half as fast, and is two times farther away from
you than it really is. For example, if it is going 60 miles per hour and is half a mile
away, it looks as if it is traveling 30 mph and is one mile away.
Operation Livesaver, in MSC Health Action News, Vol. XIV, No. 3, March 1994, p. 4.
Africa's Victoria Falls produces a cloud of mist that is often heavy enough to impair
visibility. While I was walking the path that skirts the gorge into which the Zambezi
River tumbles, I noticed a sign on the rim but could not make it out. Not wanting to miss
whatever it might be noting, I slithered and slid through the mud out to the very brink
only to read the message: "Danger! Crumbling Edge."
Glenn Cunningham in Reader's
Some time ago, zoo officials in Kirby, Misperton, England, had to pay visitors for
articles stolen by monkeys. But what puzzled them was the favorite item the animals
snatched: Eyeglasses. An investigation revealed the reason. The monkeys grabbed the
glasses when visitors leaned over to read a small sign on the wall of the cage. The sign
said: "Beware! These monkeys steal spectacles."
Leo Van Dolson in Vibrant Life.