“Maybe it’s the end of the world,” I thought. From a second-floor window I saw leaves swirling wildly against a darkening, strangely colored sky. A tree taller than our house bent nearly double from a wind growing louder and more frightening by the minute. 

I gathered our six children into our living room; it seemed the safest place. I collected lanterns and candles, none too soon. The electricity was cut off. A towering fir crashed down behind our 1948 DeSoto, blocking it in the driveway.

Meanwhile, my husband, Bob, came out of the executive building downtown to a disaster scene — broken glass and huge pieces of lumber from the new Hilton Hotel spinning high above frantic pedestrians. Taxis were refusing passengers but one driver took the $20 bill Bob offered. They crossed the Morrison Bridge, zigzagging to avoid debris. The wind was blowing above 100 miles per hour.

Finally home, safe but shaken, Bob built a fire in the fireplace. For five days, that was our only heat. We used a Coleman stove for cooking and to heat bottles for month-old Julie. With many power lines down, we did not care to send our young children to school.

Days following the storm were warm, but nights were chilly. We all slept in the living room, and Bob kept the fire going. We had hot water and the telephone.

Our family suffered only inconvenience from the 1962 Columbus Day storm that hit Oregon. We remember it as an adventure.

Jean Mitchell

Northeast Portland