Readers’ Mount St. Helens memories submitted via e-mail and on our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/sthelenskixash:
I was outside playing. I lived in Tacoma’s Oakland neighborhood. The morning was warm with blue sky; by that afternoon it got very dark from the ash. I remember cars were stalling from all the ash and I had to stay indoors.
It was the day of our wedding reception at my mother’s house in Puyallup. My husband was out jogging and saw it. We were not affected but my cousin in Spokane was getting married that day and they ended up spending their wedding night in a shelter set up for those affected by the ash.
I was in the Air Force, stationed in England. My parents lived in Lynnwood, and when we heard about the explosion, it took me over a week of calling to get through. My dad had emphysema, so it put us quite on edge until we were able to confirm all was well with them.
We were returning from a convention in our chartered bus with some 30 people. In Ritzville, we were forced to turn around because of the falling ash. We tried to get back to Spokane, but in the ash, it was as dark as midnight. But it was noon! A motel in the Spokane outskirts took us in. We were there for three days before we could make our escape on Highway 2. Although the highway was officially closed, a kind state patrolman turned his back to our approaching bus and let us go by.
Bob & Shirley Muntz
I was working at the Kittitas County Sheriff’s Office in Ellensburg. We all got called in to work, and I lived 10 miles out of town. I drove in with my driver’s side door open so I could see the white center line and stay on the road. It was like trying to drive inside a marshmallow.
My fiancée and I drove from Pullman to Spokane for a nice Sunday in Spokane. My best memory is being in Riverfront Park enjoying the sunny afternoon. As we saw a VERY LARGE cloud coming from the west, a guy standing next to us said to his wife, “If we had known it was going to be stormy, we should have stayed in California.”
I was 4 and our family lived in north Tacoma. My dad had heard that power outages and water service disruptions were expected. So, he filled every container in the house, including the bathtub, with water. He also rushed off to the drugstore to buy dust masks, which we carried in our pockets. Later in the day we walked out onto the Tacoma Narrows Bridge to get a good view of the ash plume. The State Patrol came by and made everyone leave since a group approaching perhaps 50 were loitering and adding to the congestion.
I was a freshman in high school, living in the Spokane Valley. In spite of alerts about bad air quality, we were young and had a blast in the warm air and the dust. We had a week off from school that we did not have to make up. It was great.
Michael W. Kirlin
I was 9 years old. My parents, grandparents and my brother and I were at Ipsut Creek Campground on Mount Rainier that day, having a picnic. It was really sunny outside. A park ranger came and evacuated the area. I remember very vividly it went from a very sunny day to darkness. That experience will stay with me forever.
On that Sunday morning the eruption’s loud noise and the shaking roused me and my fraternity brothers at the University of Puget Sound out of bed. We all joined together with the rest of the campus in looking south toward the huge, anvil-shaped ash cloud and wondering what would happen next. Later in the afternoon and evening, it seemed like the whole campus came together in the Student Union to watch the event unfold on one large television. Although it was finals week, I do not think many of us studied that evening as we were glued to the television.
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