10/7/98 ~ Alumni Sandstorm
>>From: Norma Loescher Boswell (53)

    "Termination winds," our parents called them.
Brown, blinding winds rattled windows, shook walls
and blew drifts of sharp sand into every crevice.
After each episode came the whir of the vacuum and
the whisk of the broom. Keeping a Richland prefab
clean was never easy. We heard tales of immigrants
returning home because of these winds. Not us, of
course. Stubborn German stock, the Loeschers,
bolstered by resilient English lineage.
    Children of such people could deal with sandstorms.
    My first sandstorm came as I was learning the bus
system. It was 1944 and I was eight years old and
going to Sacajawea Grade School. Marcus Whitman was on
the school system's drawing board and would soon be
built near my neighborhood on Thayer Drive. "Sacky"
was a few miles north on Thayer and then a few blocks
east on Williams Boulevard.
    I was wool-gathering on the bus home from school
when I noticed the blue sky turning brown. Newly
planted trees began to bend and point south. The bus
turned a corner and I heard the wind whistling for
attention. Sand hissed like rattlesnakes on the metal
skin of the bus. I looked for street signs and
panicked. There were none I could recognize! Through
the thick brown air I managed to pick out a street
sign  Duportail. I stood and pulled the overhead cord
that signaled the driver to stop.
    As the bus departed, I saw I had missed my
regular stop. This was not Thayer, but Smith. I ran
back back along the way the bus had come, checking
the intersection signs. Eyes squinted into slits. Bare
legs were peppered with grit.
    There was Sanford. I was getting warm!
    Luckily, it was Indian Summer. I felt no cold,
only embarrassment, chagrin, sand pins in my legs
and increasingly wet eyes. I could run faster without
books in my arms, but I held them close to my chest,
protecting them as they armored me.
    I passed Rossell, then Robert, and finally turned
left on Thayer. There were the welcoming pots of red
geraniums on our white porch and tropical foliaged
drapes in the windows. Home had never looked better.
    "Shut the door, quick!" Mom said as I burst in. "I
just finished vacuuming before the sand started
blowing." Then she added, "Look at those red legs!"
     After my story she shook her head. "Where did
you get your sense of direction?" she joked. "Well,
sandstorms make all these houses look alike."
     Today I still see those 1944 rows of flat-topped
houses sitting like cracker boxes on bare sand. Before
long our lawns grew. Trees and other plants anchored
the sand. After that time, sandstorms seemed more
civil, depositing more than they took away. Now they
are part of Richland's character, woven into our lore.
Richland High School's newspaper has been called the
Sandstorm for more than half a century.

Bomber cheers,
-Norma Loescher Boswell (53)