Bolt of Lightning Strikes Fear Into Farm Boy

Out of the blue bolt of lightning leaves a lasting impression on one farm boy.

| January 2014

  • “On the Saco” by Albert Bierstadt, 1886.
    Illustration By Albert Bierstadt

Leonard Rue’s rich and colorful memories of a boyhood spent on a small farm in northwest New Jersey in the 1930s will appear in coming issues of Farm Collector. In this installment, he recalls a startling experience while milking.

Craaack! Boooom! There is nothing quite as impressive, or even as scary, as a storm with thunder and lightning. It’s no wonder ancient people thought God was rolling boulders around and throwing bolts of lightning at the earth.

A vivid display of lightning will make the hair on your arms and the back of your neck stand straight up. Has to do with electricity in the air. Thunder and lightning not only scare the daylights out of a lot of people, it scares the bejesus out of a lot of animals. 

Our farm bulldog, Tiny, was a tough old bulldog. Even his bark was as rough as the bark on a shag-bark hickory. Just that bark was enough to keep all the neighboring farm dogs off our land. Tiny would disappear under the porch, however, long before the first peal of thunder could be heard and would not come back out until long after the last rumble was lost in the distance, far, far away.



And there was a time that I felt that way, too. Overcoming my fear of thunderstorms was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do, and I thank God I was able to do it. You see, lightning really made an impression on me — mentally, as it left no physical scars, for which I am thankful.

Snug in the barn

It was in the summer of 1941. World War II was on in Europe and Asia, and dark war clouds were gathering over our country, too. It was not war clouds that were on my mind that particular afternoon, but the actual storm clouds that had darkened the sky, and the sheets of rain that were falling outside. In the barn, where our hired hand Sam Van Whys and I sat milking, we were snug and dry, but the cows were restless, moving back and forth as far as they could go in their stanchions. The storm outside really had them all riled up.



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