The sun is beginning to set here in the Pacific Northwest. I’ve been spending the day with memories and ghosts. I believe as long as we remember their stories a part of them lives on within us. I’ve skimmed through several documentaries on Youtube trying to find just the right ones to share with you. The ashfall turned a bright beautiful morning into midnight. It was gritty. It was everywhere. There was no where to run and no one knew what to do, so we gathered in groups. We watched and we waited. Fifty-seven people died as a direct result of the eruption.
Louwala-Clough/Loowit/Lavelatla, the names varied by local Indigenous tribes but the translations all represents what she did often. The names translate to “smoking mountain” or “the smoker.”
I was five years old in Spokane on May 18, 1980. This video is the closest I could find to how I remember it:
I’d also you like to meet Harry Truman (no relation to the former US President), a man who became a local legend and folk hero. At 84 years old, he was determined to die with the mountain he loved.
When you click on this video you will get an alert. Select “Watch On YouTube” to watch the video directly on YouTube in a new window.
The boy in the back of the truck
American news media rarely shows images of dead bodies on television or in print. I can think of three exceptions, but this one stands out clearly in my head because it really hit close to home. It must have been in print. I remember staring at it for what felt like an eternity. I think it was A Time magazine special edition on the Mt St Helens Eruption. I was nine at the time I found it. The image of a boy nearly my own age covered in ash lying dead in the back of a pickup truck. A truck like ours. He could have been me. He could have been my brother. He could have been a friend. A part of me will always grieve for a kid I never knew. Frozen in time. Frozen in a historical event. The boy will never grow up.
You can view the image here. I will not pay for it. It is burned in my memory already. That someone profits off this image because that how we do business in America sickens me.
And finally, what have we learned from this day? We learn that life carries on in many ways:
While sad, I hope you find these videos interesting.