Friday, October 22, 2010

IF: "Running"

" The water was running so fast that they could never get across"
This is actually a new illustration- in my attempt to market towards covers for chapter books- but it also is some what grounded in reality!

My grandmother lived through the Big Thompson flood in Colorado back in 1976- don't hold me to the exact year- I was like in 3rd grade.
A large amount of rain sent a 60 foot wall of water through the narrow canyon which heads West- up to Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park- and 70 + people were killed because they did not heed the warnings of the police officers telling them to get out- two officers lost their lives trying to save people.
My grandpa- a carpenter- had actually built many of the cabins in the Big Thompson Canyon- that literally got swept away in the rushing water- but for his cabin, he built it high on a hill- he died when I was four-but  my grandma spent that terrible night safe listening to people's screams and the explosion of propane tanks, thanks to his hynesight-  a strip motel which over hung the river right below her cabin was totally taken away along with the family that had climb on top of the roof for safety instead of climbing the hill to safety- people do crazy things in crisis.
The next morning- she walked down to the river- now piled high with gigantic boulders and debris and watched neighbors save a man- stranded in the middle of the river, his clothes ripped from his body.
she had called us in the middle of the night- but then the phone went dead- we lived down the canyon in the larger town of  Loveland and so the next day- my mom borrowed a 4x4 and was driving over rough mountain access roadsto come save her but literally met her  4x4 driving her 1967 Chevy Caprice out with other neighbors- the road the only way out- since the main highway was ripped apart, another neighbor was actually trying to get out in a RV!
Grandma only spent a few days with us and then wanted to get back to her cabin, concerned about looting- so she went with a pistol and was a lady who knew how to use it. She also had spent a great deal of her life without electricity, running water and knew how to use the cook stove residing in the stone basement of her cabin- we supplied her with a generator- but it was too noisy and she only fired it up to brew her morning coffee.
My brother and I, when we were allowed to come and stay with her- hiked high up on the hill and the vision of the ripped apart black road was the inspiration for the illustration- though not the exact view- or my brother and I. I wish I could of added more- the overturned cars and the helicoptors hovering in the air-looking for survivors- can still hear my bossy older brother telling me not to wave at them in fear they would think we need help.
She did have one run in with some looter, two men came knocking at her door one night and she waited patiently on the othe side of the door- the pistol load- but they never broken in- the next day she tracked them to the neighbors house- that was vacant and discovered a broken window and blood where they had gained access to the cabin and had stolen items.
People were always impressed by her sticking it out- up there- after my grandfather died and staying through the flood's aftermath- she would always laugh and tell them it reminded her of "keeping house" for her farmer brothers when she was a young girl and lived in a isolated farm had to sweep snakes out of the house . Her younger sisters wanted a chance to housekeep for their brother that were farming away from the larger family farm- but with a prideful laugh- Grandma would tells us they never lasted long and soon she was back- the only one tough enough to handle it.
Boy do I miss her!!


  1. Good work and fascinating story!

  2. Great story and another wonderful illustration! It's amazing how much expression you get out of your cloth.