A History Lesson

Warning: If stories about natural disasters bother you, you might want to skip reading this post. There is nothing graphic, but I am aware that some people have issues with these kinds of things.

Hello readers, it’s Marie-Grace, and I have a very interesting story to tell you about something that happened 30 years ago in the area where mom and dad live. It’s a little bit scary, but I also found it very interesting too.

In April we studied tornadoes in science class. In case you don’t know, April is “Tornado Awareness Month” because that marks the beginning of what is usually the most common time of year for tornado’s to happen. Our teacher mentioned that many years ago, the worst tornado to hit Pennsylvania happened near here. I thought that was very interesting, so when I got home I asked mom about it.

“Oh honey, you have no idea how scary that night was for so many people” mom replied. She then told me a little bit of the story.

“It was a beautiful day, sunny, but very, very humid. As the day continued, the skies darkened, but I still didn’t think anything was wrong. I was working in a department store at the time, and all we could see were typical thunderstorms out the store window.” She said that it wasn’t until she got home from work that she realized something very, very bad had happened. When she pulled into her driveway, she found a large piece of someone’s roof in her front yard!

She said that when she got up the next morning, she went exploring around the neighborhood. Luckily no homes in her area were damaged, but there was debris scattered everywhere. They were finding parts of houses, cancelled checks and other paperwork, plastic planters, all sorts of different things. The neighbor kids even found a pair of pants still on a hanger! What made it frightening was that all of this debris had been carried about 40 miles from Ohio. Later it was determined that one of the funnels had “bounced” over the area, scattering all of this mess around the area. Damage had occurred all over Eastern Ohio, Western Pennsylvania, Southwestern New York and Ontario, Canada. At final count, just over 1000 homes and business were destroyed with over 1200 damaged. 90 people in the US and Canada were killed, hundreds injured. A total of 41 tornadoes were responsible for all of this, all in one afternoon/evening.

The next few days were very interesting and scary at the same time. You couldn’t listen to the radio or watch television because all of the stations were broadcasting information on how to get help and where to go for the victims. Phone service wasn’t all that great either because so many telephone poles had been destroyed all over in the storm. (remember, this was before cell phones were invented!) One phone company official said that it was going to be like building an entirely new system from scratch. As different stories came out, everyone who survived was happy to know that they had gotten through something so awful and dangerous. She said that it took a few years, but a lot of the damaged homes and businesses were rebuilt. She then told me that she had an old newspaper from the day after it had happened, it had belonged to her mom, and then asked me if I would like to see it. I said sure!

Tornado 5

Tornado 8

The pictures were awful, it looked like someone had gone through with a giant wrecking ball and crashed it into all of these buildings. Some of the stories were very sad too. It made me think of some of the awful storms that had gone through Oklahoma and some other areas this spring, and I thought of all the people there who had lost their homes. Mother Nature is a powerful force, and we just never know what she is going to do!

Mom asked me if I would like to see the area where the storm went through that isn’t far from here. I said yes, I would very much like to see it. It has a lot of historical significance because it is the only F5 (which is the strongest on the scale) tornado to ever hit the state of Pennsylvania. She also said that there was a memorial there, she would take me to see it.

Tornado 2

The memorial is right in the middle of an industrial park. I thought it was a little bit strange, and mom told me that she did too until she realized why it was there. It is in the center spot of where the greatest amount of damage was done. The reason it says “Sawhill” on it is because it was the site of Sawhill Tube (now named Wheatland Tube) which was severely damaged in the storm. Then she asked me if I noticed anything else weird. I said “no”, so she said after we get home, I’ll show you and explain.

She pulled up an arial map of the industrial park on Google Maps. Then she pointed out to me all of these small, empty streets with nothing around them, scattered amongst the large buildings of the different companies in the park. Then she explained. “This part of Wheatland had both houses AND industrial manufacturers in this area for many, many years. Over the years, the zoning changed from residential to industrial. Because of that change, when the tornado flattened many of the homes in the area, the residents weren’t permitted to rebuild.” I was shocked. I thought about how terrible that might have been for those people. To live there for many years and not to be able to rebuild your home.  Wow.

As terrifying as it was though, she said a lot of good came out of it.  Better awareness of storms and safety, more drills, better alerts and a sense of community as well.  She said that those that were able to did rebuild, some did leave the area, but most stayed.  Another area that was hit was not far from the town of New Brighton, she said that the first time she was there after the tornadoes, she couldn’t believe it.  One section that they drove through to go to dad’s grandma’s had a thick, heavily wooded area, and when they drove through shortly after the storms, it looked like someone had gone through with thousands of chainsaws and cut every single tree down.  She told me that if she hadn’t seen it with her own eyes, she never would have believed it.

Today is the 30th anniversary of these storms, I took a few minutes to think about it and said a prayer for everyone who survived and for the families of those who didn’t. I’m also very thankful that I’ve never had to go through something like this, and I hope I never do.

I hope that this post didn’t scare you, and that you learned a little bit of Pennsylvania history from it.  If you don’t know what to do in the case of a tornado, here’s a link to a website with terrific information.  Stay safe.

If you would like to read more about this, I have more of an account at my other blog, as well as some links to some other websites with additional information. –Flo

Doll Sized Finds: a butterfly, a babydoll and a bed! (oh, and a picture frame)

I’ve been popping in and out of the various thrift stores near me the last few weeks and I’ve come across a couple of fun things. First a butterfly!


A 5 inches by 5 inches, I thought this was ideal for a doll display and I could hardly go wrong at 49 cents. I already have an easel, and I recently picked up the “Just Add Water” painters set from Our Generation, I think it’s going to be adorable in the dollhouse. I just have to decide who the artist is going to be!

Next: a baby!
Lucy 1
Isn’t she adorable?!?! This has a rather long and complicated story that I won’t go into. The short version is I know someone who was looking for a doll like this. While I was chauffering my husband around, we were going to be driving past a thrift store that I don’t get to go to very often, so I told him we would stop there and he could do paperwork. I spotted her, but then I wasn’t sure if she was THE doll. I figured at 79 cents I would go ahead and get her, I didn’t want to take the chance that it was the right doll and I’d left it behind, and if it wasn’t, then I got to keep her. Well, turns out I was right, she wasn’t the right doll, so she gets to stay with me, yay! She’s about 8 inches tall, the perfect size for a baby in the 18″ world.  I haven’t exactly figured out how she is going to fit in with my girls, but I have some ideas. I need to make the poor thing some clothing though, she’s getting cold. 😉  She needs a name too.

Onto a bed!

I first saw this at the Salvation Army near me two weeks ago, but I decided to pass on it. You can imagine how shocked I was that it was still there, so I decided it was fate and went ahead and bought it. I paid $14.99, it is a Badger Basket brand bed which usually retails for $35 – $50, depending on which retailer you buy it from. I hated the bedding though, not only was it a little dirty, but the workmanship on it was dreadful, I would have tossed it even if it had been clean. The bedding along with the two boxes underneath all went into the trash. It just needs a good wipedown otherwise, and Bitty Baby will have an awesome bed. And I have another sewing project!

Now the picture frame:

bbb4     bbb5

Isn’t this neat?  It was a little more than I would normally spend at $1.50, but it was brand new and at 2″ square, it is the perfect size for a doll tabletop or dresser.  It even came with little templates so you can be sure that your pics are going to fit when you cut them down.  I haven’t decided if I’m going to keep the existing photos and just replace the “holds your pictures” square or replace them all.  I loved the detail on it though.  Interestingly enough, it has a pin back on it so you could wear it, but I think it would be kind of heavy for that.

Have you found anything fun recently?  Have an awesome weekend! (and to those who get out of school today, yippee!!!!!)

Truly Me release-what did you think?

It’s official, Truly Me released last Thursday. And I have to say that I was a bit disappointed. Not so much in what they had, but rather a lack of it. I guess I expected more for all the hype that went with the release of Truly Me. In reading other blogs and the comments, I can see that I wasn’t alone, so it wasn’t just me.  One commenter described it perfectly: underwhelming.

The outfits are cute, but I’ll be honest, nothing that I can’t live without. The two I liked the most were the Flamingo Beach Dress and the Seaside Fun outfit. However, about the only piece of this that I’m not sure I could make is the hoodie. I could definitely make a dress similar to the Flamingo Beach Dress, and I’ve made plenty of shorts! I may break down and get these if they go on sale, but they aren’t high on my list of priorities. I do like the preppy beach/Lilly Pulitzer vibe in these pieces.  I was also pleased to see that the new meet dress is available for individual purchase, glad to see them going back to this.  Still not wild about the new dress though,  perhaps seeing it in person will change my mind.

The accessories sets are all cute too, but I don’t think I’ll be purchasing any of them. They just don’t fit in with the things I have in mind.  The in store exclusive is a nice idea, but it doesn’t appeal to me.  I did laugh at a comment on another blog about how ironic it is that they made a water toy for a doll that you can’t get wet!

What surprised me this time is that there was nothing for BeForever, Grace Thomas, or Bitty Baby. I hope this means that we’ll see lots and lots of new stuff for these lines over the summer. I’m sure that BeForever will get a huge boost at the end of the summer with the introduction of the new doll in the BeForever line.  I was just kind of shocked that there was absolutely nothing this time around for any of these.

So now for the best part of the whole release (at least to me)-the new dolls! #62 and #64 weren’t classic face molds, hurrah!!! And I have to say that even though #63 is blue eyed and blonde haired, she’s cute even if there is nothing unique about her. I can see where a lot of little girls will want her as well as the other two. #64 is using the modified Jess mold, which means that she has cut outs around her eye sockets to give them a slightly different look from the standard Jess mold.  Last time they used this was on Ivy.  From what I understand, they have also changed #54 to this design as well.  Terrific!  I’m all for diversity in this line.  Perhaps we are heading in the right direction.

Me personally–I’m thrilled to pieces at #62. If you haven’t seen her yet, here’s a pic from the website:

photo of Jess to be
photo from the American Girl website

You have NO idea how excited I was to see her on the website. (insert happy dance here)  She is EXACTLY what I’ve been hoping they would do, just perfect!  She’s the Sonali mold with medium skin tone, dark brown hair and amber brown eyes.  The amber brown eyes were what clinched it for me, she’s only 1 of 2 dolls they currently make with the different shade.  The photo on the AG website isn’t all that great, but I did find several photos on other blogs of dolls in the store, and she is much cuter.   I’m going to have her, oh yes I am!  I’ve even got a name in mind and her back story and…

What was your favorite item in the new releases?  Were you disappointed by how small this release was?

One last thing.  In conjunction with the Truly Me release, they started a contest called “Truly Awesome”.  It runs through mid-August.  Only one problem–it’s only for girls ages 8-13!  I can see them perhaps not wanting adults to enter, but to cut it off at 13 was a bit harsh!  I know of one young lady who is quite upset, she’s 16, and a HUGE American Girl fan and works very hard to earn her own money to support her collection (and quite the collection I might add).  I’m sure she isn’t the only one.  Perhaps cutting it off at 17 or 18 would have been a better decision.  I think American Girl may have alienated some of their 14 and over demographic (which I’m finding out is actually quite large!)  Perhaps they need to re-think that for future contests.

I know of several girls that have e-mailed American Girl and got the excuse that the contest was aimed at their main demographic. “For this particular contest, however, the age guidelines were established to match the age recommendations for the prizes offered — the dolls, accessories, and outfits.” Seriously? This is only confirming what I’ve thought for a while now–whoever is running the show at American Girl isn’t paying attention. To anything. When I saw that, you have no idea how angry I was. For a company who wants girls to feel as though they can achieve anything and encourage them, you just told a huge group of them that they aren’t relevant. The age on the box of just about every single AG related item says “8+”, not “8-13”. I may have to seriously rethink any future purchases from AG if this is their new angle. I’m not going to support a company that seems to reinforce the “too old for dolls” idea. Girls are encouraged by too many negative forces to grow up too quickly, and now American Girl seems to be doing that too. I find nothing “Truly Awesome” about that. 😦