Flood Mud and a Whiskey Barrel Lamp

The hurricane Agnes flood occurred in 1972, more specifically, June 23, 1972. During that time, the entire Wyoming Valley was under 44 feet of muddy Susquehanna River water. Those of us who lived through this time refer to that period as “The Flood”; not to be confused with Noah’s flood. So where the rest of the world sets their dates by the birth of Jesus, the Wyoming Valley set its date as either “Before The Flood” or “After The Flood”.

Anyone who can remember the clean up after the flood will tell you this: their clearest memory is all the mud left and the smell of the mud. It was a musty smell of wet wood and cloth, but mostly it smelled like the river. Every home and business that was in the flood was covered in flood mud. We all worked hard to clean our homes and businesses of the mud, but no matter how hard we cleaned or scrubbed, we never got all the mud. To this day, you can still find hidden pockets of the past in just about every home and business flooded in 1972.

When I was a kid during the 1972 flood, my brothers and I would go around picking garbage out of the vast piles of refuse in front of the homes in our neighborhood because of this clean up. One of the treasures I found was a wooden whiskey barrel. In 1974, while in shop class at E.L. Meyers High School, I converted the whiskey barrel into a lamp. This lamp eventually found its way into the attic of my home and sat there for over 30 years; untouched and unmoved. Until one day, while looking for things to put into the barber shop, I remembered the lamp sitting in a corner of my attic. Now the lamp sits in a corner of the back room and is once again being used.

So you may be wondering what the connection is between my barrel lamp and flood mud. It’s this simple, place your finger inside the hole in front of the barrel, touch the inside of the barrel, and you will find flood mud from “The Flood” and will be instantly transported back to 1972.