Sunday, October 1, 2017

Want fries with that?

"Want fries with that?" 

How many of us have heard that at least once before in our lives? And how many of us immediately formed a picture in our mind's eye of standing at a fast food counter, or sitting at a drive-through window, hearing that and answering without a bit of hesitation "Absolutely!" I took a very unscientific poll on Facebook to answer this very question, which I'll discuss at the end of this blog. No fair scrolling to the end to find out.  

mmmm, fries!
image from Google search

Depending on where you were raised, or where you even live now, the next vision that probably forms in your mind is what the "that" is that you ordered to get the fries with.


Well, if the kid behind the counter asked "Want fries with that?" it's highly likely you had to have ordered something first, like a cheeseburger or chicken sandwich or, well, you get the point. Of course, my first thought would be a scrumptious cheeseburger from my all-time fave Whataburger

A classic combo
image from Google search

Now, dear readers, I must admit that what I've just done to y'all is a sort of "bait and switch." This blog isn't specifically about those golden sticks of fried goodness or an exploration of my favorite fast food eateries. That might be a future blog. What today's blog is about is a game called Lord of the Fries. Hang on, hang on, you'll see how this all ties together, I promise. Imagine going into a fast food restaurant and having your order taken by, and cooked by, and served by......wait for it!.......zombies!

Wow, did this just totally come out of left field, or what? Well, maybe. I mean my penchant for zombie related games is well known. Afterall I did write a blog about the game Dead of Winter recently (just click on the title and you'll go right to it).You can't get more zombie related than that. 

I stumbled across this card game while looking for something quick and easy that Cindy and I could take with us on trips and that wouldn't take up much space in our suitcase. Lord of the Fries is a sequel of sorts to a game called Give me the Brain and was introduced in 1997 by Cheapass Games. Both "LOTF" and Give me the Brain feature zombies in a fast food setting, although LOTF focuses more on filling the order with specific items from the menu.

To play, each person is dealt a random hand of ingredient cards, which they will use to complete a specific order from the menu. At the beginning of a round, the leader (more about this in a bit) will roll a die twice which will determine the selection. The player to the left of the leader will then attempt to fill this order with the ingredient cards in his/her deck or pass, giving up a card from their hand. Play continues clockwise until someone is able to fill the order. If after everyone passes (unable to fill the order) the customer will get impatient, and players can now try to fill the order with one less ingredient.

How many cards a player is dealt depends on how many are playing. A reference card is included in each deck that will indicate how many cards each player gets.This card also shows who gets the card when a player has to pass.

Reference card & die

The player that is able to fill the order becomes the leader for the next round. After the first round, the leader has the option to "call" an order instead of rolling for a random order. This allows some strategy to come into play. Play continues until someone runs out of cards, at which point the "day" ends. A game consists of four "days." Ingredient cards have a certain point value, and these cards are added up. The highest score wins. 

Lord of the Fries base game

Lord of the Fries ("LOTF") consists of the base game which has two decks: Friedey's and a coffee/dessert shop called McFrye's. Each of these has their own ingredient cards and menu specific to that restaurant. Let's look at the Friedey's menu, or as the game calls it, "The Fast Food Restaurant of the Damned." 

Friedey's menu
image from Cheapass website

Notice the menu is divided into four zones. If the leader rolls the die for the order, the first roll will select the zone, and the second roll will determine the specific item. So, if the first roll is a 5, and the second roll is a 2, the order to be filled would be a Chickabunga Conga. To fill this order, a player would need four cards: "Bird meat," "Bun," "Fries" and a "drink." Don't have all four? Time to pass. That player will then have to give up any card in his/her deck. Depending on if the order was called or rolled will determine who gets the passed card. Take a look at the reference card and you'll see how that works.

Friedey's ingredient cards

Notice that each card has a specific point value. In our example order above, the full Chickabunga Conga order would be worth 11 points. Scoring works sort of like the game Scrabble. If a player is able to play their cards to fill an order (some restrictions apply), they get the points from those cards. Once a player goes out, though, any cards remaining in the player's hand gets counted against them. This is also where strategy comes into play, with respect to what cards a player who passes will give up. It is entirely possible, and even likely, to have a negative score at the end of a day. Yep, been there, done that. 

Not hungry enough for food? Just want coffee and a pastry? No problem! Let's head over to McFrye's and see what they have to offer. Note that the first roll of a 4 or 5 will make the order a little more complicated. You'll then have to roll three more times to determine the order. Sounds like something from that nationwide coffee chain I mentioned in this blog

McFrye's menu
image from Cheapass website

With a different menu, naturally, there must be different ingredients. Kinda hard to make a Double tall whipper with bird meat and fries, right? Here's a peek at what you'll have to deal with, no pun intended, if you work from the McFrye's menu.

McFrye's ingredient cards

In my example above, a double tall whipper (I rolled a 5, which determined Zone C, then a 5 then a 3, then another 5), a full order will get you 8 points. Rolling a 3, then a 1 would make an order for just a plain croissant, which would still give you 6 points for playing just a single card. Go figure....

I've played this game several times and really enjoy it. The randomness of the cards and die roll ensure a constantly changing game. Just like going to the same restaurant, though, without a little variety, the experience could eventually get a little stale. No worries, though, as Cheapass currently has four, yes four, expansion decks available. My readers who have read my blogs on Dead of Winter, Pandemic and Flash Point are quite familiar with my fondness for game expansions. Of course, I wanted to get the other expansion decks to add a little variety to an already fun game. So, not hungry for just "regular" food? We have it covered! Now we can choose from Chinese, Italian, Irish (pub food) or Mexican. Cool!

Just like the food court at the mall...

These expansions add not only new menus and ingredients but add a small twist to the overall gameplay in some fashion. Just take a look at the top of the menu and you'll see the change. So, grab your napkins and follow me. I'll take us into each new expansion, showing you both the menu and ingredient cards.I hope y'all are hungry...

Long Wok on Short Pier
image from Cheapass website

Who doesn't love a good Chinese restaurant? A large plate of steaming pork fried rice with a couple of egg rolls, or maybe some General Tso's chicken with a side of steamed dumplings? Yes, please! What? Delivery? Well, OK, we can include delivery as well. It's all the same to me if you eat out or have it delivered. Just depends on whether or not the Cowboys are playing. If they are, I'm staying home and ordering in. I like the twist for this expansion. Hooray for family style!

Long Wok ingredient cards

My late father loved Italian food....I mean, really loved it! He used to travel extensively around the world and could always find the best Italian restaurant anywhere. Seoul, South Korea? No problem! He knew just where to go. All of this was way before the internet, too. Some of the best Italian food I ever had was in Singapore. I visited him a couple of times when he lived there, and the first time I went there he took me to his favorite place. All the way there he told me how good the food and service was. 

When we got there, the Maitre 'D met us with effusive greetings. "Ah, Mr. Newman, right this way. Your table is ready and waiting for you." He then looked at me and said "And you must be Patrick. Welcome to Singapore!" I felt like I was in some mafia movie and my name was Corleone. I kept waiting for the Maitre 'D to kiss my dad's ring. Maybe he did that on a previous visit. As we got seated, everyone at the table got a menu except for my father. "So much for great service," I thought, "they forgot to give dad a menu." I mentioned this to dad, and he just smiled and said "I don't need one. I'm familiar with the menu and even if I ordered something that wasn't on the menu, they'd make it anyway." Yep, we must be related to the Corleones....

I have a feeling, though, that if Ghicciaroni's actually existed, we probably wouldn't get the same service. In fact, I think we'd be lucky if we didn't become one of "them" and start craving brains. Just sayin'....

Ghicciaroni's Family Style Italian Buffet
image from Cheapass website

The twist for this expansion, in my opinion, isn't as effective or helpful as other expansions, but that could just be me. I could take it or leave it. I hope y'all have been paying attention to the brilliant artwork on these cards. Cheapass has definitely managed to capture the essence of each theme. The hilarious menus add much to these games as well. 

Ghicciaroni's ingredient cards

My friends and family know just how proud I am of my Irish ancestry. I even blogged about that as well, and you can read about it here. Would y'all like to join me at an authentic Irish pub, listening to some folk music, sipping on a Guinness, and enjoying dinner? Let's do it!

McPubihan's Irish Pub & Brewery
image from Cheapass website

Yeah, I think I'll stick with Zone A for the most part, at least until I get hungry. If you drink enough Guinness, though, you probably won't get hungry. This expansion's twist is very similar to Long Wok's twist. By the way, Cindy and I have some upcoming travel that may include hitting an Irish pub. I'll definitely blog about that once we are back. That's all I say on the subject for now, as I don't want to set any false expectations or jinx anything. 


Last but certainly not least, we have one of my favorite cuisines represented: Mexican food! Having been born and raised in South Texas, I'm probably biased, but that's OK, too. I could eat Mexican food multiple times per week and not get tired of it. There's just something about a hot plate of carne guisada or a bunch of tacos with freshly prepared pico de gallo that is inherently satisfying. 

Las Cabezas Cocina Mexicana
image from Cheapass website

We all have our favorite Mexican restaurant, and I hope that they don't do what the twist in this expansion allows the "chef" to do. For game purposes, it's a good twist, but in real life? Not so much. Believe it or not, that last time we played this deck, we did have a big bowl of tortilla chips and salsa to snack on. All that was missing was some spicy queso. 

Las Cabezas ingredient cards

If you've been keeping score, that's six decks of ingredient cards and six menus. Pretty cool, huh? Here's the best part, though, there's more! Yes, the people at Cheapass Games have created three extra themed menus to add even more variety! These themed menus combine certain cards from specific decks to create a whole new experience. Dude, this is so cool! Where can we find them? Well, you could look on the Cheapass website, or you could just keep reading. You didn't think I'd leave these off, did you? Not me!

I'll even discuss these "in order of appearance." As I write this blog, it's opening weekend of the Texas Renaissance Festival. This yearly event is a total blast, and something Cindy and I look forward to every year. Be on the lookout next month for a blog on our latest jaunt into the realm. The food choices at TRF are as varied as the multitude of people who attend. Take your appetite and lots of money and you'll leave stuffed and satisfied. Our game's version of Ren food, known as "The Food Court at Yon Medieval Faire," combines cards from the Friedey's and McFrye's decks. There are no special twists with this menu, but that's totally OK with me. Huzzah!

Ren-fare menu
image from Cheapass website

Hhhmmm, what else happens every October? Yes, you in the back, in the clown costume. That's right, Halloween! It's one of my favorite holidays, along with Christmas. As the cliche goes, "I may have to grow old, but I don't have to grow up!"  Abso-freakin-lutely! The inner child in me loves seeing and participating in Halloween activities. Our first cruise in 2007 happened to fall over Halloween, and some of the costumes people wore were simply fantastic. To play with the Halloween menu, you'll need cards from the Friedey's, McFrye's and Las Cabezas decks. I like the variation for this menu. 

Halloween menu
image from Cheapass website

Remember how I mentioned Christmas being my other favored holiday? I'm glad the folks at Cheapass were kind enough to make a Christmas menu to help celebrate this wondrous season. The holidays are always a good excuse to eat lots of things you wouldn't normally eat the rest of the year. I go into plenty of detail about yummy Christmas treats in a blog I wrote last Christmas. Yes, please feel free to read it. Just click here

Yes, I know Thanksgiving comes between Halloween and Christmas, but Cheapass hasn't produced a Thanksgiving menu yet. That might make an interesting project, though. I'll have to give it some thought, and see what nifty and clever menu items I can come up with and what decks to use. The rules twist for the Christmas menu work especially well for those who can think strategically and enjoy playing more cutthroat.

Christmas menu
image from Cheapass website

This, my faithful readers wraps up my blog on a fun, fast-paced card game. It's fun to play and doesn't take up much room. Even the menu items are fun to read, and the staff at Cheapass Games have some talented artists and writers working for them. I will be on the lookout for future expansion decks or menus, should they become available. 

As for my unscientific poll, out of about 100 people who replied, only four wouldn't have gotten fries with their order.......FOUR. That leaves more for me, then. 

Have any of you played this game? If so, what do YOU think about it? What about other unique card games you particularly enjoy? I've heard a lot about Cards Against Humanity, and would love the opportunity to play this game. For those that have played it, I'd love to read your comments below. 

Coming up are some more travel blogs and a detailed account of our trip to TRF. As with last year, I'm hoping to do another Halloween flash fiction. 

Until next time.......

carpe cerevisi

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Our Sun Got Mooned

The other day my friend and fellow writer Eric Douglas posted on Facebook an idea for a flash fiction/short story event. With the upcoming solar eclipse, he thought it would be fun to gather stories related to this on a central site. Naturally, I jumped at the chance, much like I did on two previous occasions where he or another writer set up a similar idea. You can find my flash fiction entries relating to these events here: Halloween flash fiction or Advent Ghosts 2016

This time, though, Eric gave us the choice of writing either flash fiction, which is exactly 100 words, or a short story. Since the previous two were flash fiction, I wanted to make this story a little longer, so I opted to write a short story instead. Following is my contribution to Eric's project to commemorate the solar eclipse of 2017.

image from Google search


Our Sun Got Mooned

It was no surprise, really, when the solar eclipse of 2017 went down in history as “one for the ages.” How could it not? Afterall, this was the only solar eclipse in the recorded history of the planet that the moon just…stopped…at the peak of full coverage, or totality as astronomers referred to it.

The eclipse began normally, with the first views in the US beginning near Lincoln City, Oregon that morning. People across the country gathered along its path and marveled at what they saw. A group of film enthusiasts even set up at Devils Tower in Wyoming to take photos of the eclipse and the monument together to celebrate a popular science fiction film from 1977. The Sundowners Club in Jefferson City, Missouri gathered in a local park near the capitol building to feast on Moon Pies and Sunny Delight. While club members acknowledged the bad pun, they still had fun handing out the treats to all who passed by. “Just make sure you put the Moon Pie in front of the Sunny D, or it’s not official,” one member said with a grin.

Scientists determined months before the actual event that Carbondale, Illinois would be the location experiencing the longest totality at two minutes and forty seconds long. The mayor of Carbondale and the city council planned a huge day of it, closing several streets near the university to accommodate a large crowd. Not everyone, though, looked forward to the event with pleasure. A local cult marched through the streets, carrying signs warning of a coming apocalypse. “The end is near!” shouted one, carrying a sign with the same message.

While the cult members seemed alarmed by the coming eclipse, everyone else seemed amused at the cult members. Both groups generally left each other alone, until a couple of students, already drunk by noon, attempted to take selfies with some of the cult members. Fortunately cooler heads prevailed and separated the revelers from the cultists before any fights broke out.

The early afternoon steadily grew darker, and an excited buzz circulated amongst the crowd. Gasps and expressions of wonder gradually increased until the air reverberated with noise. The noise reached its crescendo just as the eclipse reached totality. Cheers and laughter filled the air as onlookers watched the solar spectacle. As the three-minute mark passed, without apparent movement from the moon, the party atmosphere slowly morphed into a bewildered confusion. “It stopped! The moon just freaking stopped!” exclaimed one student.

“No way,” another student replied, “NASA was just off with their calculations.”

“I assure you, young man,” Professor Hawkins interjected, “NASA was correct with their data. I arrived at the same values myself. Something is definitely amiss here.”

After five minutes with no apparent change, bewilderment gave way to alarm. The cultists increased their chants, and several fell to their knees in fervent prayer.

Another ten minutes elapsed with no change, and alarm grew into outright fear and panic. Cell towers were overwhelmed with traffic from hundreds tweeting and sending texts, e-mails, and even Instagram photos about the continued eclipse. Across the state, and indeed across the nation, pundits on all the network news outlets speculated on what was happening. World media outlets added to the confusion with their own spin on the developing situation.

Two hours later, with still no change, the President held a brief press conference in the White House. “My fellow Americans. We must all remain calm as our nation’s top experts attempt to figure out what is going on. I assure you we’ll come to the bottom of this. For now, I urge everyone to keep calm and await further news. Thank you.”

The gathered press erupted into a torrent of questions. “Mr. President, what does NASA say about this?”

“Mr. President, did the earth stop or did the moon stop?”

“Mr. President, do you think terrorists were involved?”

On and on the questions went, with the largest majority of them answered with some form of “we don’t know yet.”

Publically, the President urged calm and patience. Within the cabinet, though, he demanded answers. “Put us at DEFCON 3, now! I don’t want us getting caught flat-footed like we were in 2001. If those idiots in Pyongyang had anything to do with this, I’m gonna tear them a new one.”

Accusations started to fly in all directions. A leak from the White House went public with the suspicions against North Korea, which naturally the “Norks” vehemently denied. They, in turn, blamed the Chinese, who blamed the US for fabricating this whole mess to begin with.
The dusky day eventually faded into night, but the next day brought more of the same darkness as the previous day. Back in Carbondale, local news affiliates were on the streets interviewing those still milling about. “Dude, it’s just like that old movie Groundhog Day,” one student remarked.

As “Day 2” wore on, though, people across the nation, especially those along the path of totality, began hoarding supplies. Grocery stores and gas stations soon ran out of stock. As these businesses began to close, panic started overtaking those looking for food and fuel. Government officials still urged calm and restraint, stating that essential services were still functioning and no unusual effects had yet to be noted. Local grocery managers pleaded with their customers, assuring them that they had trucks en route with more goods. “Just give us a day, and we’ll be fully stocked again,” one manager said on a local news show, “I just got off the phone with our distributor, and she assured me we have truckloads heading our way.”

Even with these assurances, though, suicides dramatically increased across the nation as panic gave way to despair. Those not in the path of totality began to grow concerned, especially when hearing about the runs on banks, dwindling gas supplies, and empty grocery stores. News videos of grocery trucks pulling into stores didn’t seem to matter anymore.

A week later, just as the mass hysteria reached its peak, the moon started moving again on its regular path. Panic quickly subsided, and life gradually returned to normal as much as it could. Other than the earth’s tides, which took some time to settle back into their predictable pattern, no permanent damage could be found. Well, maybe a heightened sense of vulnerability for many. People returned to their normal day-to-day existence.

#  #  #

A month after that infamous event, Glifae scanned his report one final time before touching the virtual “SUBMIT” icon on his holographic screen. His thesis “American humans are susceptible to mass hysteria with inconsequential stimuli even with innately normal conditions.” was sure to earn him the coveted Master of Alien Studies (Human emphasis) degree from Daedalus Prime University, in the Korrelian System. 

His pleasure-mate Creaphelsto mind linked with him. “That was a fascinating study, Glifae. Professor Bryvexx will be most impressed.”

“I hope so, Creaphelsto,” he replied in like fashion, “my entire time here has been devoted to studying these perplexing creatures. The High Council gave me only one Earth-week to complete my observations before they returned the Earth’s moon to its regular orbit.”

“I found it most curious that these creatures reacted the way they did. Their technology allowed them to communicate and function as normal, yet they still exhibited fear over something as trivial as their moon not moving as they expected."

“My studies have proven this phenomenon over and over," Glifae explained, "For all of their own advancement, these humans are still primitive when it comes to their perception of safety and comfort."

"Your work is now done, 'Master' Glifae, let us retire to our pleasure chamber and celebrate your achievement."

The end.


I hope y'all enjoyed my part in this project. You can find the other submissions at: Going Dark: Free Fiction for the Eclipse. Please check out the other entries. 


For those that are familiar with either my humor or writing style, surely you aren't surprised that I would include a photo like this?

What did you do, if anything, for the solar eclipse? Did you make one of those viewing devices out of cardboard or use some special viewing glasses? What about photos? Who all reading this took photos of the eclipse? I'd love to see them and read about your own experiences of the day. Please post them in the comments section below.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Remembering Hurricane Celia

47 years ago today, Hurricane Celia made landfall in Corpus Christi and changed the lives of thousands forever. She packed a powerful punch, with the highest wind gusts recorded over 180 mph before the instruments measuring this broke. She left a trail of devastation that took months to restore.

This blog is a commemoration of that terrible storm, and with the help of many generous people, I have included personal accounts of what happened that day.

For my new readers, any blue text is a link to another page that will open in a new window. Clicking on any image will allow you to see a larger version.

The summer of 1970 started out pretty much like previous summers in the Corpus Christi area. Kids were out of school and making the most of their summer vacation from school. Teens could be found at the beach, enjoying sun and sand, and trying to keep cool in the tepid water of the Gulf. By August it was the usual hot and humid, with some keeping a wary eye on the same Gulf their kids were frolicking in. Two named storms had already come and gone, Hurricane Alma and Tropical Storm Becky, neither of which threatened the Texas coast. 

As July ended and August began, life in Corpus Christi was business as usual. Closer To You by The Carpenters began its second week as the number one single in the Top 40, having edged out Mama Told Me (Not To Come) by Three Dog Night. On the country charts, Charley Pride's Wonder Could I Live There Anymore occupied the top spot. Kelly's Heroes was likely still playing in local theaters, having been released on June 23rd. Average ticket prices for movies was $1.50, which even in 1970's dollars was still a good way to avoid the heat and humidity of South Texas. Those preferring to stay home could watch such shows as Adam-12, Bewitched or Hogan's Heroes in prime time. 

This idyllic summer in Corpus, though, was soon to gain infamy as the third named storm came roaring ashore a few days later on August 3rd to wreak havoc on a generally unprepared city. I was four years old then, not turning five for another month. Of all the blogs I've written, I've had to rely heavily on research and the recollections of many people to complete this one. Having embraced social media for several years now, I enlisted the help of a Facebook group I belong to called "We Grew Up in Corpus Christi." You'll hear from several of these people throughout the blog. My own memories of Hurricane Celia are those of a four-year-old and consist mainly of sounds

image from Google search

The storm developed, as some hurricanes do, from a tropical wave in the Caribbean west of the Cayman Islands on July 30th. Two days later, on August 1st, the depression was upgraded and named Tropical Storm Celia after entering the Gulf of Mexico. Given the warm Gulf waters, Celia rapidly intensified into a Category 3 hurricane. For my readers not familiar with hurricanes, think of warm water as "fuel" for hurricanes. The warmer the water is, the more "fuel" there is for the storm. With Celia entering a warm Gulf, one could imagine dumping a large can of gasoline on a small fire. Whoosh! Throughout this blog, you'll see me refer to these different storm "categories." I'm referring to the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. Bear in mind that this scale refers only to the potential for wind damage, and doesn't account for the other major cause of damage: storm surge

Celia's track was essentially to the west-northwest. Forecasters at the time kept expecting Celia to make a northerly turn to the right, but this never happened. Local weathermen, such as KIII's Charlie St. John and KZTV's Walter Furley did their best to keep the citizens abreast of a fluid situation. After an initial "flare up," Celia did lose some of her strength on August 2nd as she churned towards the Texas coast, dropping to a Category 2. The west coast and panhandle of Florida received storm surge and large swells from Celia, and minor coastal flooding in Louisiana added to the toll.

In 1970, there was no such thing as the internet, and storm tracking was done on a paper map. Typically local businesses or media would provide these at the start of hurricane season. My father had a set of colored pins he would use to plot the course of a storm. We kept this tracking map in the living room and would update it as the news updated a storm's course. As a child, not really knowing any better, I always thought it was fun when I got to stick the next pin into the map. I looked forward to hearing about "a storm" in the Gulf so I could grab a colorful pin and place it on the map. 

Example of a paper tracking map
image from Google search

I'm sure my parents, as did many in Corpus, tracked Celia's progress, even though she was expected to turn north and make landfall near Galveston. As an adult now, who happens to work in Galveston, I make it a point to check the NHC website first thing every morning during hurricane season. Even today, one can find paper tracking maps in local stores during hurricane season, or one can just download a printable copy from the internet.

Hurricane Celia's track
image from NWS website

People in Corpus were still expecting Celia to turn north towards Galveston, so minimal preparation was done. The National Weather Service (NWS) bulletins were still issuing a hurricane watch for the Corpus Christi area until the next morning. Corpus Christi wasn't issued an actual hurricane warning until the 5 am update on Monday morning. 

NWS advisory bulletin, 1 pm, August 2nd
image from NWS website

Before I continue, I'd like to make clear that this is NOT an indictment of the National Weather Service or even intended to be critical of them. I'm including these bulletins to show just how unpredictable hurricanes can be, especially given the technology at the time. Reading these now, and knowing the ultimate outcome of Hurricane Celia, one can see how important it is to be prepared during hurricane season. Just four hours after releasing the 1 pm bulletin, the NWS issued a 5 pm bulletin extending the hurricane warning to Rockport, north of Corpus Christi.

NWS advisory bulletin, 5 pm, August 2nd
image from NWS website

According to my mom, by Sunday afternoon, she and my father had discussed the possibility of leaving, and even started packing clothes for us "just in case." She went shopping to stock up on canned goods that didn't require heating in case the power went out. Yes, that included Spam! And I'm not talking about the electronic kind, either. She even bought some cake mix to bake a cake the next day. Cake? Oh, yes! You're the best, mom! Other than that, no one in our neighborhood took any other precautions. Why would they? Celia was going to turn northwards any minute now, right? We didn't even have to pick up anything from our back yard on Sunday. The 7 pm update still considered Corpus Christi to be in a hurricane watch status. We were truly in the "calm before the storm."

NWS advisory bulletin, 7 pm, August 2nd
image from NWS website

Barbara Dufner, one of the Facebook group members I referred to, remembers:

"The night before Celia was being expected to go in near Houston. My husband and I took a drive down to the T & L heads to have a peek at the tides. We saw some friends out doing the same thing. They joked saying they were out to see how long before the hurricane was going to hit. We slept in the next morning until we got a call from family saying we'd better start boarding up the windows. During the night the barometric pressure dropped and she was heading our way!"

Monday, August 3, 1970

As Monday morning dawned, the forecast looked much more grim for Corpus Christi. During the early morning hours of the 3rd, the National Weather Service issued two more bulletins at 3 am and 5 am. As late as the 3 am update, Corpus Christi was still under a hurricane watch. Residents to the northeast in Rockport and Aransas Pass were under a hurricane warning and were advised to be prepared for the coming storm.

NWS advisory bulletin, 3 am, August 3rd
image from NWS website

Two hours later, at 5 am, the next bulletin included Corpus Christi in the hurricane warning. As people started waking up and getting ready for work, I'm sure there were plenty of surprised faces upon reading the newspaper or watching the latest update on TV. Local radio stations were also giving updates and urging people to closely monitor the storm track.

NWS advisory bulletin, 5 am, August 3rd
image from NWS website

Monday mornings are bad enough, but to wake up to "Hurricane warnings are extended to include Corpus Christi and the area southward to Baffin Bay..." surely caused many to start taking a closer look at the storm track. Even early on Monday morning, though, not too many in Corpus were actually preparing for the storm that would arrive only a few hours later. The 7 am bulletin advised evacuation of Port Aransas and Mustang Island, and recommended evacuation of the low lying areas in Aransas Pass and Rockport. 

NWS advisory bulletin, 7 am, August 3rd
image from NWS website

Richard Morris, another of the Facebook group members, recalls:

"I don't think anyone in my family ever gave the impending hurricane a second thought the day before it hit, since it was expected to make landfall in Galveston until the very last minute. My dad took my sister to our church to put her on a bus to Christian Adventure Camp in Leakey early the morning of the third. I don't even think people at that point fully realized the gravity of what was about to take place. I remember helping my mother take clothes to the laundromat and helping my dad put tape on the windows a little later in the morning."

Reading this, I'm glad to see that at least some people didn't have to endure the storm, and got to have a little fun somewhere else. As the morning progressed, more and more people started to realize that Celia wasn't turning as expected. The 9 am advisory bulletin now indicated that Celia was definitely heading towards Corpus Christi. Around this time, my late father started to get concerned and had my older siblings start preparing the house and yard as best as we could. 

NWS advisory bulletin, 9 am, August 3rd
image from NWS website

My sister Victoria, who was 10 during Celia, wrote:

"I remember dad being in a bit of a panic because the hurricane was supposed to go further north, and didn’t turn as expected.  There was a whirlwind of activity as we started picking things up out of the yard, such as picnic tables, chairs etc.  Once that was finished, we went inside and waited for the storm to arrive."

Being a family with four kids, naturally, we had plenty to pick up out of the yard. My late brother Dennis was always building jumping ramps for his bike. Victoria mentioned that even I managed to help out, moving my tricycle into the garage and picking up light items. I distinctly remember mom baking a cake in the morning, which smelled wonderful. At the time, I believe frosting was prepared from a box mix, which she would do when the cake cooled enough to frost it. Unfortunately, the power went off before she was able to mix the frosting, so we had to eat our cake without the frosting. She also filled both bath tubs with water.

The more I researched Hurricane Celia, the more astounded I was at how many people were caught off guard by Celia's approach. In yet another example, Marian McKim shared this memory with me:

"I did not even know she was out there until my sister called at 9:30 AM. I took my 5 month old child and my two dogs to my parents house after leaving my trailer windows slightly open because of the pressure. My husband and I hauled the trash cans and patio furniture into the garage and shop and then, when my parents got home from the lake (I had sent the Highway Patrol in to warn those people - no other way to reach them), I went to the refinery with my husband who had not ever seen a hurricane."

By noon, those who hadn't already done so were busy doing whatever preparation they could with what was available. In our Calallen neighborhood (Broad Acres), very few had boarded up their windows. At this point, there just wasn't enough time to do that and everything else needed to prepare for what was looking like a catastrophe in the making. The noon update from the National Weather Service urged those immediately near the coast to evacuate and seek higher ground.

NWS advisory bulletin, noon, August 3rd
image from NWS website

Local media kept everyone as up to date as they could. It's hard to imagine in this day and age, with almost real time coverage of storms just how limited access to information was back in 1970. We basically had TV and radio. Below is a short audio clip generously furnished by Eddie Truesdell. At the time of Hurricane Celia, Mr. Truesdell worked for KSIX radio in Corpus Christi and gave this report to CBS News.


Data from the NWS website indicate that Celia again rapidly intensified back into a Category 3 hurricane shortly after this last update. Upon landfall, Celia was a "high end" Category 3 hurricane with sustained winds of 125 mph. As an interesting side note, I reached out to several meteorologists for some fact checking. Current meteorologist Bill Vessey of KIII sent me a link to an article that Josh Morgerman, another meteorologist wrote. His analysis of the storm data indicates that Celia should've been classified as a Category 4 hurricane at landfall. You can find his article here. Given all the damage, it doesn't surprise me at all. 

Hurricane Celia maximum winds
image from NWS website

There has always been much debate and speculation about whether or not tornadoes caused any of extensive damage seen in the area. The general impression, at least what I've found on the National Weather Service website, is that no evidence can be found for tornadic activity and that all the damage is from the high winds. I'll leave this up to the experts to decide. What I do know is that in our neighborhood some houses were completely demolished while others, like our, were left relatively intact.

NWS advisory bulletin, 2 pm, August 3rd
image from NWS website

By mid-afternoon, winds were starting to pick up all over the area, and the first rain bands began to come ashore. After clearing everything we could out of the yard, and storing it in the garage, we stayed inside and watched TV until we lost power. The winds were really howling at this point, and as the rain intensified, our parents moved all of us from the living room to an interior hallway for more protection. I do remember hearing that howling, screeching wind. I recall sticking my head around the corner and looking out one of the front windows, seeing nothing but a gray background with lots of stuff flying by the window. Mom caught me doing this and admonished me to "keep away from the windows!" I could feel the walls vibrating against my back as I sat there, listening to the wind. 

My eldest sister Melissa, 16 at the time of Celia, told me for the first part of the storm after the electricity went out she laid in the front seat of the car to hear the news on the radio. She's unclear if our parents made her come back in to keep from draining the car battery or if they just wanted her inside.

Hurricane Celia at landfall
image from NWS website

I was really too young to be scared of the storm, with one exception.  I remember hearing my siblings and parents talk about how "the eye was going to pass over the house." OK, y'all, remember I said I was just shy of five years old, right? When I heard that, my four-year-old brain immediately conjured an image of a large, scary eyeball that would soon float over our house.

Kinda, sorta like this...
image from Google search

I wasn't having any part of that and started crying. Once my parents calmed me down, and asked why I was so upset, they explained what they were talking about, and how it would get quiet for a few minutes. Well, OK, I guess that will be fine. But if I see that large eyeball out there....

As Celia was lashing Corpus Christi, the dramatic pressure changes caused our windows to implode. I definitely remember hearing those windows shatter, and looking back we were in the perfect place to keep from getting cut by flying glass. As I describe the walls as "vibrating," Victoria described them as "breathing in and out." My sister is by far not the only one to describe those phenomena, either. Several other people specifically mentioned the very same thing. 

Kenneth Anthony worked for KZTV at the time and had this to say:

"I was at the KZTV Newsroom in the basement of old Show Room Bldg on the bluff. A lot of us huddled around the ground-level door looking out. I wanted to get around to several places, get film DURING the storm, not just aftermath. I downgraded my ambitions to just sprinting next door to the Wilson Bldg to go up and shoot from KZTV rented space in upper floors. I didn't have sense to stay out of the elevator. It stopped during a momentary power interruption and just stayed between floors. I "power-cycled." Turned it off, waited 10 seconds, turned it on again and it ran again. Once I got out of it, I stayed out. Walls on upper floor in central hall (not directly against outside wall) were "breathing" in and out from air pressure."

Deborah Winters Seals saw his reply and added:

"Reminds me of the glass in my bedroom windows....breathing in and out! And all the windows were open at least 3" to relieve pressure....none of the windows broke, but my album collection got wet and were ruined...."

Around this time rain was being driven into the house under the doors and through the broken windows. My parents and siblings made a "canal" out of pillows and whatever was available to channel the water down the hallway and into the master bathroom. Inspiration struck mom, and she had dad remove the toilet so the water would have a place to drain. Great idea! With such strong winds, our roof was lifted a couple of inches from the frame but sat right back down without causing any major structural damage. We were fortunate, compared to others. 

A friend of mine and college classmate, Steve Fogle remembers this about his house: 

"I remember being in my bedroom with my mom, my dad was still at work. He called and told us to get in the bathroom – the most central room. About 10 mins after that, we heard a loud noise, the breaking of glass, etc. Once that all cleared we came out to see the roof of my bedroom (the room I was just in) collapsed with a huge tree from our neighbor’s yard half in my bedroom. I can’t even imagined what would have happened IF we were still in the room. The sliding glass door in the living room was broken – more tree parts in the living room. The house had a lot of water in it. We lived on Monette Drive, right off Airline and a couple of blocks from Ocean Drive."

Close calls seemed to be common, as Loretta Dilger related:

"The front picture window of our 900 SQFT house was shattered by a shingled overhang from the house directly across the street. It then catapulted over our house and flattened our back fence. The shattered glass covered my four-month-old sister sleeping in her crib across the living room. Not a scratch on her and she slept through the rest of the afternoon. Thank goodness!"

Yes, thank goodness, indeed! Can you even imagine trying to get medical help in the middle of a major hurricane? Back when I was in EMS, I never had to pull a shift during a major storm. I did have to work in some pretty cold and icy conditions when pulling shifts up in Colorado. You can read about some of my adventures in a previous blog I wrote on the subject here

Let's not forget about the fire, EMS and police officers who didn't have the luxury of hunkering down with their families during the storm. Our devoted public servants maintained a vigil throughout the storm, helping when and where they could. Ron Edgington was a Corpus Christi Police Officer when Celia came barging into the city. He gives a very descriptive narrative of his duty time during the storm:

"After several days of speculation we now knew Celia was going to be close or hit us pretty hard and we at the Police Department were making preparations like the rest of the city. Law Enforcement and Civil Defense and First Responders have to be maintained at all costs and under all conditions to protect the citizens. Celia was a small but very dangerous Hurricane that at one time had top winds of 186 to 190 M.P.H.. Multiple times people were asked to evacuate and go to a safe place but most just ignore the warnings. As Celia got closer to us it as becoming harder and harder for the police to complete calls and response to calls for assistance. There was even one call where two fishermen were fishing on the rocks in front of the old coliseum and got washed and blows off into the water and could not be found for a while. They were able to make it to safety with the help of a couple of brave Firemen. With the eye now only about 50 miles or so away we began getting hundreds and hundreds of calls for assistance to evacuate. I will never forget the screams and panic of callers who were in serious jeopardy now wanting to evacuate. Try as they may officers could not get to them for debris, down trees, downed electrical lines, and the like, not to mention the wind and blinding rain. Just before the eye came across our Flour Bluff 2-man Unit 131 yelled on the radio they were being picked up by a tornado and were off the ground. The radio went dead and we heard nothing else. With everyone in panic mode because we didn’t know where they were, if they were alive or dead, and there was nothing but silence on their radio. Every 2 to 3 minutes for the next eleven (11) hours I attempted to call them without response.

The eye came across the north side of Corpus and the old Police Building at Buffalo and the freeway where I was working as the Dispatcher including Portland at 2:10 P.M. which is when we had the highest winds. It is still so distinct in my mind because the Chief Of Police had instructed me to broadcast an "alert" for all Police Units to "shelter in place" until winds subsided.. Here's the funny part. I had been working the radio for 16 hours and my Commander came in and made me take a break. I went out the back door of the building protected by a large brick and concrete wall just in time to see our Police Radio Antenna come down across several vehicles. It crushed the Chief's Car, the Assistant Chief's Car, but missed the back bumper on my brand new 1970 Chevrolet Pick Up by about 12 inches (thank you, Lord, for small favors). It was at this point I saw the back side of the eye wall of the hurricane coming toward the Police Building. It was almost black in color and the debris was moving sideways at whatever the wind speed was. Inside the eye sounded like an echo chamber and there were thousands of birds trapped in it. The back side of the eye hit with the wind going from dead calm to probably 180 M.P.H. in the twinkling of an eye. Returning to my post as our worry was now turning to grief about our lost unit I went back to the dispatcher position and it had been almost 12 hours since we lost them when the single outside line in my office rang and “guess who”?. The voice on the other end said Unit 131 and we are both O.K. I haven’t seen that much elation since the last time The Cowboys won the Superbowl. A small F-1 funnel picked them up, dropped them in the middle of the Oso, and they were able to wade to Flour Bluff where they found one working pay phone at a store. Some may recall several years ago when there was an exceptionally low tide in the oso someone spotted a car sitting out in the water. Guess who” Yep-our Police Car. There was a photo and article in the caller times when it was found."

This man had a wife and two-year-old at the house and yet there he was, standing watch and holding the thin blue line. 

Linda McRae Simpson writes of her harrowing experience:

"I registered for school that morning at King High School! No big deal! Shows that no one was expecting this kind of storm. My dad was at work and my mom held down the fort. She was on the phone with him around 4:00 pm and the conversation indicated that things were going to hell fast. Then the phone quit working. The next 3 or 4 hours were my worst nightmare. Our Pharaoh Valley home was ripped to pieces, with us in it. Dad started driving home as soon as he could, driving thru yards, to get to us. After hours of driving, he arrived to our half of a 2 story house. He didn't use the door, just walked through what used to be the dining room wall. We were all so relieved to see each other, we had all survived. I still had my dress on from earlier school registration, it was ruined. What had been our 2 year old house was rebuilt."

Johnny Marks was the Manager/Program Director for KZFM when Celia struck. He shared this:

"I recall going to the 600 Bldg. around 10AM and the sky over the bay was Green. Having been through Carla and Beulah, I knew this one was unusual. I checked the station, told the jock on the air to leave and get out ASAP should the reports indicate a hit. I left and headed downtown. Bad move! The weather got worse so I aimed for my friend Eben Wood's high rise condo, the old Princess Louise Hotel. We weathered the hurricane from a Great vantage point. I called the station and told everyone to leave. Then, as the bay started to empty and boats left at their moorings just hung there, we witnessed a taxi going end over end after the eye had passed and we started receiving the 2nd side of Celia! Crawling down the hall to a stairwell, Eben and I had to be careful as broken windows shot shards of glass into the hallway and sticking like swords. We made it to the lobby, and recall passing a bottle of Jack with a uniformed cop! We all figured "this is it!" It was a frightening experience!"

Thankfully, many who experienced Celia's effects perceived it as more of an "adventure." Let's see what Richard J. Berry had to say about it:

"I was 10 in 1970. I remember being fascinated by the storm. We lived on Poenisch Street near Alameda. Despite my mother's warnings I spent the first part of the storm perched next to the windows in my brother's bedroom watching. The heavy rain flooded the street. I remember watching the high water line get closer and closer to our front porch. It never made it all the way up to the house. The winds were amazing. At the height of the storm before the eye passed over I watched a very large tree, that had been uprooted from the yard of a home closer to Alameda, literally blow down the street! One of the homes across the street from ours had a gravel surfaced area in their roof. The house next to that had narrow windows just below the roof line. The gravel blew off the one roof and broke out the windows in the adjacent house. During the eye of the storm some of us went outside. It was so eerie. Dead calm, sea gulls flying around in circles, and the completely flooded street. One end of Poenisch is offset from the other. Looking down the street in the eerie calm I could see that one of the strong Celia microbursts had ripped the roof and walls off of the second story. It looked like a doll house with the roof off. We could see much of the furniture still sitting in place. Our neighbors in the home across the street where the high windows had been knocked out waded across the street during the eye and spent the rest of the storm with us in our home. We had a Coleman stove and lanterns. When the eye had passed and the storm raged again I remember sitting with everyone in our kitchen playing cards by lantern light and eating bagels and lox until the storm passed."

Of my few memories during the storm, I do remember hearing our garage door being torn off of its mounting. I believe this was after the eye had passed and the back side of the storm was raging. My sister Victoria agrees with this and remembers the same thing. For the record, I didn't go outside during the eye. Mom kept me safely inside while the eye passed. My older siblings, though, went outside and helped dad nail our closet doors over the broken windows to keep at least a little rain out. 

Victoria: Outside was so dark and oddly quiet. Dad was telling us there was only a short time before the wind would start blowing from the other direction. There was already devastation all around us, homes with missing roofs and trees down.

And we still had the second half to go, ladies and gentlemen!  My late brother Dennis kept a running commentary on a tape recorder during the storm. Mom said that he kept this tape for a while after Celia, but then recorded something else over it. Had she known at the time, she would've given him a blank tape to use and kept the storm commentary. I would've loved to hear what he had to say. Both of my sisters said he kept a calm, measured tone while describing the events, even when a mobile home across the street behind us started rolling over and over. My sister Melissa had her boyfriend's senior ring on a chain around her neck. According to her, mom seemed to ask with some frequency if she still had her the ring around her neck. "It felt like every ten minutes, but I don't think that was the case."

I'm sure it felt like an eternity before the winds began to noticeably subside. Most likely I was already asleep, while my parents and siblings stayed up for the duration. Even after the winds abated, we had no electricity and wouldn't have for another couple of weeks.


As Tuesday morning dawned, people began to awake from whatever sleep they managed to get. The true amount of devastation could now be easily seen, and there was widespread devastation throughout the entire area. It was still August in South Texas, and without electricity, there was no air conditioning, ice, or cooking unless one had a gas stove. Even then, chances were that the gas service was also cut off. Those who managed to store water in jugs or bath tubs had something to drink at least for a limited time. 

Many in Corpus Christi would go weeks without electricity or running water. Ice was a commodity and hard to find at times. Mosquitos, always a problem it seems, added to everyone's discomfort. 

Victoria: The next day was so surreal. There were chicken feathers embedded in the living room wall.  There were mangled up unidentifiable objects everywhere. We even found some oil rig records scattered about. It looked like a bomb had gone off. We drove around the neighborhood to see so much devastation. Homes completely destroyed. Water everywhere. The smell reminded me of the beach. 

One of mom's favorite stories to tell about Celia was my reaction the next day. Throughout the storm, I was generally calm (Except for that eye thing!) and wasn't too scared. When we went outside to assess the damage, I noticed the flower beds where I had helped mom plant some flowers a few weeks before were completely stripped bare. I broke down and cried over the loss of those flowers. 

Our house in Broad Acres
scanned from original print

All of our windows were broken, the insulation in the attic and walls were soaking wet and the wallboard was wet along the bottom. Other than that, though, the house was remarkably intact. Our next door neighbors immediately to our south fared just as well. Our houses and a few others were just a few in the neighborhood that didn't suffer catastrophic damage. Our neighbor's house across the street to our southwest was demolished.

Neighbor's house across the street
scanned from original print

Another neighbor's house
scanned from original print

Even more devastation
scanned from original print

At the entrance to our neighborhood sat a family-owned convenience store. Fischer's Market was a favorite place to buy a soft drink and candy bar. We usually found enough empty bottles between the house and Fischer's to pay for at least another drink. For my younger readers, what I'm referring to is collecting glass bottles. Yes, glass! We could turn these in for a few cents each. Fischer's Market looked like a bomb hit it, and sadly there were people looting items from the pavement.

Fischer's Market
scanned from original print

They did rebuild, though with a newer and nicer store, and stayed in business for several more years after that until they retired and sold their business. Even the larger grocery stores didn't fare much better. 

H.E.B. Grocery
image from NWS website

Burger Chef restaurant
image from NWS website

Hurricane Celia was unique in that almost all of the damage was from the wind, with minimal damage coming from storm surge. Remember me making a point about that earlier? Yep, there was a reason for it. There was such extreme damage that then-President Nixon declared seven counties as disaster areas. The Texas Governor at the time, Preston Smith, mobilized the National Guard to the area to patrol for looters and assist in recovery. A curfew was established for a while to help curb crime. 

A few days after the storm, our Uncle Buddy and Aunt Lucy arrived to help out. Victoria and I went with them back to Houston for a couple of weeks until the house was reasonably repaired and electricity restored. We even got new beds from this, as all of ours were full of broken glass. Uncle Jimmy had an interior decorating business in Houston and did fantastic work, giving us new wallpaper and paint.

In the spirit of friendship and teamwork, families with gas stoves and barbecue grills offered to cook for their neighbors who had electric stoves. People shared what they had and helped their neighbors clean and repair their homes. Residents of South Texas have dealt with hurricanes before Celia, and after Celia, and will do so again when the need arises. We all come together and help each other out, doing what it takes to make our communities whole again. 

Hurricane Celia caused 15 fatalities in Texas along with approximately 930 million dollars in damage. An estimated 90% of all buildings in downtown Corpus were damaged or destroyed. The severity of damage and loss of life prompted the World Meteorological Organization to retire the name Celia the following year for Atlantic hurricanes. Interestingly, the name Celia is still used for Pacific hurricanes and was used as recently as 2016.

I want to extend my heartfelt thanks to all of my family and friends, as well as the many people in my "We Grew Up in Corpus Christi" Facebook group that were so generous with their memories and time. Without all of you, I couldn't have written nearly as good a blog as I intended. I only hope my words did your memories justice. 

As I give this blog a final review before posting it, it's early morning. This time 47 years ago most in Corpus Christi were still asleep, or just waking up and getting ready for work. This time 47 years ago, Corpus Christi was still under a hurricane watch. Things would be very much different in just a few hours.

True to form, before I even opened this blog to give it my final touch, I checked the NHC website. There's something brewing off the coast of Africa, and that dreaded orange color, meaning "medium probability of development" is already present. I can only hope this dissipates or moves in a different direction. No, I wish no harm on anyone else, I just don't want another storm near me. It's still wayyyyy out in the Atlantic, and could go anywhere, or just dissipate. Who knows at this point? I'm still gonna keep a close eye on it, though. 

I've got my eye on you!
image from NHC website

We are approaching the height of hurricane season, so it's no surprise that we have something we need to monitor. As a reminder folks, for those of us who live near the coast, please consider that a 1/4 tank of gas should be considered "empty." I try to keep at least a 1/4 tank of gas in my car, and will not allow it to drop below before refilling. Do you have some canned goods or other non-perishables ready to go? I hope so. I'm not trying to be a fear monger. I am trying to stay prepared, though. That's just what we do here.

Consider this as "empty."
image from Google search

Did anyone experience another hurricane like Celia? I'd love to hear about it in the comments below. I bet many of y'all have interesting stories about Katrina, Rita or Ike. What about sitting through a tornado or other weather event? Please tell. 

Coming up next, I plan to interview Chef Ryan Klen like I did with Chef Kevin Templet. Be sure to check out that blog, and feel free to read my others. There's bound to be something that will catch your interest.

Until next time......

carpe cerevisi