MARTHA SEZ: ‘We both stood looking at the ruins of the kitchen’

The Logging Truck Incident! A major life event for my daughter, Molly, and me. I was reminded of the Logging Truck Incident recently when I visited the Keenan Family Rustic Furniture showroom in Keene, because it was there, years ago — 1993? Thereabouts — that Molly and I lived in this very house when the logging truck struck.

It wasn’t a commercial building then, just a residence. The word “struck” describes the coinciding of the errant logging truck with the everyday goings-on of our lives. It was as random and as cataclysmic as a Texas twister or a category 6 earthquake. Little did Molly and I suspect that morning as we got ready for our day that it would turn out to be so bizarre, so memorable, or indeed anything at all out of the ordinary.

Molly was troubled with asthma. When she first began to walk — really she never walked, she ran — she would go into coughing fits: asthmatic bronchospasm. As a young girl, she often landed up in the hospital for days as the medical professionals (thank you, Dr. Hyson!) worked to keep her breathing. On this particular morning it was touch and go whether she was breathing well enough to go to school.

I thought it best to keep her home that day. While we were eating breakfast we saw the school bus go by. Then, just as it was time for school to start, Molly announced that she was feeling all right and would go to school after all. My car, some old hoopty that was residing at Chick Lawrence’s Garage down the road, was no use at all.

“They’re not going to send the school bus just for you!” I told her.

Molly went over to the telephone, which was mounted on the kitchen wall — no cellphones then — put in a call to Keene Central, and in a few minutes the big yellow bus was outside the door. Good-bye! You’ve got your inhaler, right? Have a good day!

Ordinarily, I would have stayed in the kitchen, but on this day I took the phone off the wall (it was not permanently wired in place, but could be plugged into special outlets at two locations in the house, which seemed very modern at the time) and carried it upstairs, where I planned to do some ironing. I used to iron quite a lot in those days.

The sound, when it came, was loud, just one big definitive thud that would have been characterized simply as BAM! in a cartoon strip.

I walked downstairs, wondering. When I reached the bottom, I was out of doors. There was no longer any kitchen, and, as it was February, it was very cold (negative 10 degrees, as I later learned). The wind was heavy with the smell of burning brakes. I just stood there.

After a while, my landlady, Mrs. Lawrence, came over from next door. Neither of us said a word. We both stood looking at the ruins of the kitchen, which had been reduced to trash. Yellow insulation was blowing around. The kitchen sink was still standing against the far wall, with a huge log lodged beneath it. Then Mrs. Lawrence turned and walked back to her house.

I don’t know how long I remained there in my dumbfounded state before my friend Darcy pulled up in her car, told me to get in, and drove me to her house in St. Huberts.

Darcy told me that a logging truck had lost its brakes coming down the hill on Route 73 from Lake Placid, and that, somehow, logs had been ejected like missiles all down the left side of the road before the truck rolled to a stop at Lawrence’s Garage.

“How did you know so quickly?” I asked. Darcy told me she heard it on the police scanner.

Administrators at Keene Central School also heard about the Incident over the police scanner.

For weeks, logs littered the side of the road, one lodged in the crotch of a tree. “Pulp wood,” declared local builder Charles Segard, who could tell.

Chick Lawrence said the road was banked wrong, and others theorized that the logs shot out as they did because they had been loaded Canadian style.

I was so glad that Molly had called for a bus, and as she said afterwards, “It’s a good thing you don’t like to wash dishes, Mom, or you would have been killed.”

Have a good week!

(Martha Allen, of Keene Valley, has been writing for the News for over 20 years.)

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