Fire Drill!

Ah it’s Fall! I know you are staying safe, and you were probably isolating a lot during what seemed like an endlessly long hot summer. Such a weird time in our lives!
A week or so ago Ken and I had settled down to watch our favorite Netflix show on a Saturday night about 8 p.m. when we got a call. Four of our granddaughters were on their own for the weekend as their parents were out of town. A brush fire had broken out across the street from their property and the main road into their development was lined with more than a dozen fire engines. Authorities were stopping any traffic in or out of their community. The loud water dropping helicopters were racing back and just above the girls’ home earnestly trying to stop the fire. At the same time, the West Coast of the USA was pretty much on fire and we were all in hyper-vigilance mode.
The youngest (15 year-old) sister was starting to freak-out for obvious reasons! Her older sisters made the decision to ease her anxiety by calling us, the grandparents, and getting her out of there! Of course they were welcome to evacuate to our home.
Within thirty minutes, the girls had filled three cars with nine chickens, two dogs, two cats (one feral in a cage), a turtle and two snakes, and arrived at our home. Luckily, Ken had built a cattery for my mother’s cat which has since found a home. The chickens quickly took over that space. The dogs were nestled in my large home office, while the girls settled the cats. The snakes and turtle remained confined (much to our relief) as we recalled raising our own family with snakes and guinea pigs sometimes living under the dishwasher or behind a drapery! Settled into beds, the youngest began to relax. Ken and I finished our show. Within a few hours the firefighters had the brush fire under control and the immediate danger had passed.
What has stayed with us across these days since the alarming event is the behavior of our four granddaughters. This had been a for real fire drill and they performed like a well trained Army Special Forces unit. The fifth and oldest daughter, Jill, who lives elsewhere, dropped her plans and hurried to her sisters. She talked to the sheriff, and they had agreed that the girls should evacuate. Jill saw the girls to our home. Knowing her sisters were safe, Jill left.
Preparing to leave, the four evacuees tended to first things first. There was no bickering or questioning the steps in the evacuation. The first order of business had been the well-being of their youngest sibling. Next, valuables, jewelry, photo albums, computers, animals, and essential clothing were stuffed into the vehicles. Upon arrival at our house, the reverse order; securing the many animals and organizing sleeping arrangements. While one sister found a litter box and set up the cats with water and food, another walked the dogs on the back lawn. It was almost as if they had prepared for this for years. Each found a task and carried it out.
One incident particularly impressed me. Our 20 year-old Emily, future veterinarian, who has been taming the feral cat, considered allowing it out of the cage into a closed bedroom. Megan, at 23, was a capable general. She decreed, “No, the cat will be better off in its carrier overnight.” Emily, the lieutenant in charge of animals, deferred to her older sister. No push back.
Animals and girls and even grandparents got through the night without further event. The girls didn’t sleep much, but they knew they were safe and had done all they could in such an emergency.
For our part, as the older generation, we often worry about the future of our fragile civilization and our precious planet, and then something like this emergency happens and the youngsters step up. Whether they are saving themselves, fighting wars, fighting wildfires, or policing our cities, we see that they come through. I personally feel humbled by the competency of the younger ones coming up behind me.
Once we were the youth. I recall a Spanish teacher in high school telling our class that we were “the do nothing generation.” That stayed with me. We were only sixteen years-old. That seemed a rude thing to say to us, considering we were barely getting our driver’s licenses! As the decades unfolded, my generation and those behind us, saw to some of the important human rights and environmental changes ever known. We were not a “do nothing generation.”
During this global lockdown I had so much time on my hands that I looked back at my growing up years and have written about it. Growing Up Venice: Parallel Universes, is now available at Amazon in Kindle, paperback and hardcover color formats.
In this book, which is the history of some lost aspects of Los Angeles/Venice history, I share my lived experience on the oceanfront in Venice. I grew up during the 1940’s, side by side, with a working oil well in one of the most productive oil fields in California. My story visits the Holocaust and Bolshevik survivors who lined the benches along the boardwalk in Venice, the Gambling Ships in Santa Monica Bay, the arrival of the Beat Generation to the Gas House, and the subsequent Hippie invasion. We journey through time past the amusement piers, to the new ethos of Venice, the craziest beach in the world, and to Silicon Beach, a new home to the electronics industry. You might enjoy my tale, certainly a love story is woven through it.
I always enjoy hearing from you. Let me know how you are doing. My best, donna