A Do-Over of the Epic Rainstorm on Monday, October 29, 1973
Previously, I had written of this epic rainstorm when I was 10 years old and in the fifth grade. On that unfortunate day I was not wearing my raincoat. This is my version of what should have happened.... Most of the details of the day are still true. I have added some characters and some details to enhance the story.
School day anxieties relieved and with my brothers and I now at our respective schools, Mom was free to bitch at the rain so that it would pour down even harder. Pulling on her London Fog raincoat at last, Mom rushed out to do several errands, urging on the downpour to just soak the hell out of her raincoat and kill the damn drought. Taking my father to the bus and making the mom run to the school had just been a tease. She growled like a cougar: “Now I can soak this coat right down to my skin”, giving herself another anticipatory growl as she put her raincoat on again. The long flowing raincoat complemented her tall height and she felt its drape over her rear end for the first time in a long while. She turned up the collar on her raincoat as the rain soaked her shoulders and ran down the back of her coat. So wet and now so sensual. The wind and rain sent her raincoat billowing over her skirt and swishing against her nylons. She felt like a woman again. Put together. Complete. Powerful. The coatless months had gone on much too long. Other school moms eagerly ventured out on errands with her in defiance of the downpour, letting it drench their already streaming wet raincoats as it vanquished the drought.
The women soaked their raincoats getting in and out of cars. They pulled up their collars as they dashed across parking lots and let the rain shower down in a waterfall on them as they came in and out of store entrances. When the women saw each other in their wet raincoats they smiled, and they seemed almost grateful to be showing off their drenched balmacaans and trenches to each other as they celebrated the end of a drought. Thinking back to their own school days, women were used to soaking their raincoats and getting utterly drenched. It was that way before they had their own children when they were commuting to a job in the city and covering up under a raincoat so they could expose themselves to the always pouring rain. For years, they understood that putting on a raincoat and going out in heavy rain or sweating and fanning yourself in the heat or having the cold blast up your butt in the winter was the mark of becoming and being an adult.
Mid-morning, some of the neighborhood moms gathered at home on our covered back porch with my mother. It was easier to warm up over coffee where they could huddle in their wet raincoats, watching the heavy rain continue without let up. They talked about getting their husbands and their kids out the door that morning to work and to school in their raincoats. The moms with students in junior high talked about how they were able to get their kids into the long yellow slickers: “they just get drenched on that long walk and then they have to stand outside when they get there. The kids say they just get wet down. There is not much complaint from them about having to wear their raincoats.” Another mom with a daughter in the sixth grade added: “I got Terri into Billy’s old rubber slicker and hood. I made Billy wear his slicker up to the high school. God, they were both drenched the minute they were out the door. Terri was covered in rubber. The sixth graders had the worst of it. She went to school with her classmates and some from the other grades. They had to wear those raincoats for this monsoon! My mom chimed in: “I’m sure Bobby got drenched by the time he got to the high school. He was wearing his black raincoat that he used to wear over the Catholic school uniform. It’s not waterproof. On most days it’s not a problem. It can pour in the morning but then when they get to school, they’re done with their raincoat. By the afternoon the rain is usually over, and the raincoat gets dried out. That won’t happen today. At least Amy wore her slicker. That surprised me. She gets so hot in it. You know it’s really pouring when she willingly puts that on.” One of the other moms mentioned that she saw my sister Hilary walking to junior high in her long yellow raincoat. “Those junior high kids just take this drenching so well. They just huddle under their raincoats like soldiers on that long walk. It’s like they were standing under a shower head.” My mom agreed: “Hillary was covered in rubber from head to toe. She looks like a crossing guard out there. She always knows how to dress for drenching rain or whatever else the weather throws at her!”
My mom’s closest friend among all of the mothers mentioned that my mom seemed to have no problem getting all of us in our raincoats. My mom agreed saying: Joe likes it most of all. He can’t wait to wear his raincoat in the morning. I am worried about him today. He wears a raincoat like ours and he might get totally drenched coming home for lunch if this rain keeps up. It’s not stopping. I don’t know if I’ll be able to dry him out. I was going to try to get over to Sears this morning to buy him a poncho to wear back to school. We have a good one for him in Maine. And he really needs it here to wear in heavy rain. The highway is probably flooding by Sears already. I may have to just put him in Amy’s other raincoat to wear back to school after lunch. That is probably what I will end up doing. “Her friend said: “Oh he’ll like wearing that. I can’t believe how Amy wears it and looks so good in it at her age. She’s so tall and she can pull off being dressed like a career woman. So can Hillary. Imagine wearing a London Fog and being barely in high school. “The other mothers laughed in agreement.
My mom’s friends secured their raincoats and plastic accordion-style rain hoods and silk headscarves before going back out into the pouring rain. It was raining hard and they were so thoroughly soaking their raincoats going back to their own homes across the street that they hardly noticed that they were wetting their panties from the pressure of the morning coffee hitting their bladders. Two of the women walking together in the pouring rain observed as much to each other: “Oh darn it. I’m going to flood my undies.” “Well, it doesn’t matter now. We’ve soaked our raincoats so much that we’re not going get any wetter if we wet our pants!” As they splashed through the puddles in the street in their boots and having given each other tacit permission – they let go and peed a flood under their raincoats right through their panties and pantyhose. As the two women groaned and ferociously peed in satisfaction and relief, the heavens completely opened on them soaking through their raincoats to whatever clothing was still dry. The women laughed at this ridiculous downpour as they parted ways and went into their homes. It was just after 11AM and they were about 20 minutes away from the school lunch period. Inside they swept off their raincoats and inspected the damage to their clothing. It wasn’t as bad as they thought. With a quick change of their sopping wet panties and pantyhose, they put on a cardigan over the rest of their damp clothing and got ready to deal with their kids and more wet raincoats in short order. It was a day to just accept feeling soggy. They could completely change clothes after the back-to-school run following lunch. The rain was by no means over.
It rained increasingly harder that October morning and torrential thunderstorms started at 11:00AM – the same torrential thunderstorms that soaked the suburban mothers as they finished their morning errands and gathered with each other; it beat down just as relentlessly on the crossing guards who resumed standing at their street corner watch after putting on their cold wet rubber slickers and rain capes after both the guards and those slickers got drenched for two and a half hours earlier that morning. The thunderstorms also pounded down on the police who put on their black to orange reversible raincoats to respond to the flood alarms triggered by rising rivers and streams. The cops and crossing guards needed “raincoat relief” more than anyone else. Unfortunately, they did not have the luxury of a change in raincoats. They just had to endure a continuous soaking of the raincoats they had on. And just as the suburban mothers soaked their raincoats across New Jersey, men and women commuters drenched their Balmacaans and trench coats on the sidewalks of New York for the first time in weeks.
The same torrential rain fell outside the classroom windows as the 11:45AM dismissal for lunch neared. I couldn’t wait to get my tan raincoat and my bomber hat on to get out into the rain and make the twenty-five minute brisk walk home. I would have no more than 10 minutes to eat lunch before returning to school. I wasn’t very concerned about the fact that I would soak my raincoat without time to get it dry in the furnace closet at home. At home, my mom, after the other women had left, hung her raincoat in the furnace closet. She then moved quickly to the bathroom feeling the sharp need to defecate. The excitement of anticipating and then going out into the heavy rain had done its work on her and she was trying to hold in a monster crap all the while the women were leaving the house to go back out into the rain. She moved quickly to the bathroom already holding up her skirt high above her waist so that she could lower her hose and panties when she got on the toilet. Then she let loose with a fragrant gassy poo, tilting her head back and rolling her eyes as both poo and pee gushed into the toilet. Farting and filling the bathroom as only the stench of a pooping woman can, she blasted away at the poor toilet. Her butt was a complete mess but she was getting pure and total relief. Most of her family, her husband and several of her children had dodgy bowels and the pervasive dampness of the air on a rainy day only seemed to make this worse. She remembered how quickly I would have to get to the bathroom after coming home for lunch and getting my raincoat off. My mom imagined (quite rightly) that I was probably cramping and holding off diarrhea in school all morning. I was sitting next to my childhood crush: Liz, at our adjoining desks trying to hold it all in. My stomach wanted to explode. I was waiting for lunch, waiting to wear my raincoat, and waiting at to be at home at last where I could be alone in the bathroom and do my poops in peace.
Meanwhile, Amy was stuck at school and fortunately had no inhibitions about having to use the ladies' room at school. Amy and her basketball teammates liked to eat, and they played and worked hard to burn off those calories and consequently frequented the toilet. During the lunchtime rush at school, Amy and the other girls farted and plopped away as the air reeked with their dueling scents of poo and perfume. Even after leaving the stalls and going to the sinks to wash their hands, Amy and some of the other girls still had to clear their butts and they squatted down slightly while standing at the sinks literally and figuratively throwing decorum to the wind. Adolescent girls could be mean, but in the ladies' room they protected each other. Here the girls at last could take relief and avoid the dreaded alternative of accidentally spewing gas out in public in front of boys and everyone else. Amy and the other gassy girls finished washing their hands and took a final squat and let the farts empty out of them. It was as if they trying to rip apart their big girl panties and melt their pantyhose with the cutting gas. Their friends and teammates sprayed perfume behind them, teasing and hissing at them sympathetically: “you go girl, gas me out, leave a good stench woman, that’s it! Fart it all out girl. Ah, get that good relief. P-U! You stink! You going to need to swirl an upskirt like Marilyn Monroe to get rid of all that gas!” The gassy girls would apologize and thank those around them with a smile at the relief that they finally had. The teenagers wouldn’t be able to get any more relief, if they needed it, until after school when they were walking home and could fart it out under their raincoats. Amy had walked the last part of the route to the high school that morning across an open field with torrential rain pounding the rubber surface of her slicker while her butt blew out a woman’s copious gas after breakfast and before school. Under the cover of a drenching rain, she blasted away at her panties and the inside of her raincoat. If the boys only knew what a stench wafted under her big flowing raincoat as she gassed it out, whew! Mom taught her from her own years of experience dealing with gastrointestinal distress to shake the skirts of her raincoat as she walked to vent some of that gas out. In her raincoat, a good woman could have around her many kinds of protection. Alone or with a trusted friend, she could fart up a storm under her raincoat with confidence.
My Mom anticipated that my raincoat would be soaked beyond being able to dry it out by putting it in the furnace closet for ten minutes. She went into Amy’s room to get her London Fog raincoat from the closet and lay it out in the kitchen by my chair just as she did this morning with my own raincoat. Meanwhile, those of us who were going home were lining up to leave class just before lunch. Those going home for lunch was mostly boys, myself and the other boy in his black Balmacaan and the rest of the boys in their slickers and helmet hoods. The girls that were going home for lunch were wearing lightweight jackets or winter storm coats. The slickers were fastened, and the coats buttoned, and jackets zipped before we went out in the thunderstorms throwing down torrential rain. I was joined by students from other fifth grade classes including some boys wearing the NFL team rain ponchos. The rainwater just poured off those ponchos. The sound of the rain ricocheting off the heavy PVC ponchos underscored how hard the rain was pounding away on our raincoats. This was the heaviest rain of the day so far. It didn’t take long for me to soak my raincoat. I was about halfway home when my raincoat gave way to the assaulting rain. The British tan of my raincoat was now a darker brown and my coat was sopping wet. I had as of this moment thoroughly soaked my raincoat and I felt the rain hammer at my bomber hat and earflaps. Were it not for the zip in winter liner, I would have soaked my raincoat down to my skin! Along with me were other fifth and sixth grade boys on whose slickers the water no longer just beaded up. Now the rain came down on those slickers in waves and torrents, pushing the boys slightly down and forward so that their raincoats could take the full brunt of the sluicing deluge. The boys, rather than complaining about the rubber raincoats that they so often detested - as recently as this morning - now huddled gratefully under the protection that their rubber coats offered. The moms were right about their raincoats after all, the rain was not going to come through those slickers!
We soon joined the crossing guard at the street corner who was covered in his enveloping yellow raincoat and shoulder cape. All over town, the women and men who served as crossing guards hunkered down under their heavy yellow rubber rain gear. For almost 3 hours this morning, the rain buffeted down on the squared shoulders of their slickers, testing the rubber coats to their limits. While we were in school, they went home to temporarily take off their streaming wet raincoats. They turned hair dryers on the highest setting to try and blow torch their torsos, their armpits, their bras, underwear, and pant legs dry – everything their raincoats, hoods, and boots didn’t quite protect. They cursed the rain as they furiously waved the hand-held hairdryers up and down over their sweaty, dank, polyester crossing guard uniform clothing. They whipped those hairdryers about every which way, getting precious satisfaction out of blow torching themselves some relief before noisily jostling their very wet long heavy yellow rain slickers and rain capes back on with determination, this time to endure a torrential late morning thunderstorm over the next two hours. They were also going to have to stand watch over us again: the junior brigades in slickers, ponchos, and raincoats. The guards were relieved to see us in our raincoats, especially those of us who were also wearing yellow rubber slickers. The crossing guards knew, more than anybody, that you had to wear rubber everything to be impervious to the rain’s assault. In those total, full length rubber coats, both crossing guards and students seemed perfectly dressed for this heavy rain. Both the guards and the students would stand in the ferocious downpour for many hours that day and let it just dump water down the caped backs of our raincoats. We could do nothing else but stand out there and let it pour!
Now on my street and approaching my house, the monsoon torrents slackened to a steady driving downpour. My mom met me just inside the door, ready to help me take off my completely soaked-through tan raincoat. Though she sarcastically reminded me that morning before school to try not to soak my raincoat, she was now glad to see me, drenched raincoat and all:
“Oh Joe! What a day out there, huh? God, you just totally drenched your raincoat, didn’t you? You must’ve had fun being out in all this rain and drenching your raincoat. It’s the day for it. This rain just soaks through our raincoats. I drenched my raincoat this morning. It’s in the furnace closet. I’m going to wear my other raincoat when I take you back to school. Let me put your raincoat in the furnace closet and keep it there all afternoon with mine so that they will be dry if we go out this afternoon. You’re going to change raincoats. It’s there on the chair. You’re going to wear Amy’s London Fog back to school. She already zipped the winter liner in it early last week when it got cold. It will stand up to the downpours when you walk home from school this afternoon. Quick! Sit down and eat lunch before we have to get you dressed and out in the rain again.” But I have to go to the bathroom first”, I said. I went to the bathroom where now that I was home from school I could empty my poop-laden butt in peace. The room was still filled with what must’ve been the stench of Mom’s diarrhea blowout and I sat on the toilet and added my own relieving massive dump to what Mom left behind. Feeling much better and finishing in the bathroom, I went out to rejoin my mom in the kitchen.
I sat down at the kitchen table and quickly ate lunch with Amy’s London Fog raincoat parked on the chair next to me. Besides drying wet raincoats and/or warming them up in the furnace closet before we had to put them on, Mom had another trick in raincoat care. Most of us took after her and would sweat bullets in our raincoats in the swampy, dank, humid conditions of New Jersey whenever it rained. Mom would spray Secret spray deodorant back and forth on the pile linings of our raincoats or the white canvas linings of our rubber slickers. Both Amy and I with our intensely passionate and competitive natures could sweat almost on command. The deodorant wasn’t strong enough to stop our sweating, but it’s clean fresh scent would keep our raincoats from reeking of our body odor. Unfortunately, it didn’t help with my dodgy stomach and bowels. Like Amy, I would frequently rip out gas inside my raincoat as I burrowed into my coat in the rain. The problem abated after taking my massive dump. I could settle contentedly into this wonderful day of torrential rain.
Finishing lunch, I stood up and pulled on Amy’s raincoat. It was a beautiful light oyster color and a little big on me. Still the long coat draped down perfectly, just over the tops of my boots. The London Fog’s winter liner was thicker and heavier than that in my tan raincoat. I especially enjoyed that there was the scent of my beloved sister left in her raincoat and I could feel in it’s drape over my chunky torso and butt how well her raincoat fit her. My mom said: “You will definitely be getting some raincoat relief in that. You will need it. Just let it pour! Try not to get her raincoat dirty. It is raining so hard that you probably won’t need to worry about that. It’s her only good coat. You can get it as wet as you want but we will have to dry it out after school so that if Amy needs to wear it tonight, we can have it ready for her.”
We went out again into the pouring rain huddling under our raincoats and settling into the Chevrolet. We made the five-minute drive to school under the rain that kept lashing down incessantly. My mom saw me contentedly snuggling into Amy’s raincoat just before getting out at school to join all the other students returning from lunch in their raincoats, ponchos, and slickers. Adjusting and securing my vinyl winter bomber hat with the ear flaps, my mom smiled and said: “You look good in Amy’s raincoat. Just let it pour on your raincoat. That’s what raincoats are for. You can drench this raincoat with no problem. OK.”
Looking at me and the other boys completely covered in their flowing NFL team waterproof ponchos, she said: “Thank God you’re all wearing your raincoats today. This heavy rain can soak your raincoats. All of you are getting drenched again. But it can pour. You’re dressed for it. Go on now!
Dashing up the sidewalk, the rain beat down on me in Amy‘s raincoat, but her coat seemed impermeable to the pounding rain. The rain continued its cascade down on the other boys in their gleaming and streaming wet yellow slickers. The huge flowing hooded ponchos were just a completely wet PVC vinyl sheet of dripping water. In those ponchos, the boys could be totally unfazed by the heavy rain. We had already gotten so ridiculously wet going back and forth to school all morning that by now we were accepting and enjoying the heavy rain. It was a day for the raincoats, and we were grateful for the shelter and protection that they offered. Many of us were now enjoying a “raincoat upgrade” from what we were wearing that morning.
Among those who had gone home for lunch, there were examples of raincoat upgrades (morning jacket to an afternoon full-length rubber raincoat) and sadly, raincoat downgrades (morning raincoat to an afternoon winter snorkel coat). Michael had a comparatively short walk home for lunch. He was wearing a black zip-lined single-breasted raincoat much like my own British tan raincoat to school that morning. He soaked his raincoat. He then walked home a block and a half to lunch at 11:45AM when it was relentlessly torrential. Those flooding rains were shutting down our local highway as happened whenever there was a heavy rain. Fortunately, everything between the school and my house was on high ground. When Michael returned to school, he was wearing a winter jacket. His grandmother had pulled off his soaked raincoat during lunch. I asked Michael about his raincoat. He said that his grandmother had complained that his raincoat became muddy.
I loved seeing my classmates who received a raincoat upgrade or as my Mom would call it - “raincoat relief” - during lunch. The girls were especially in need of changing into a heavier or more waterproof raincoat from their typically lightweight and dressier rainwear. Both Verena and Cathy were tall enough even in fifth grade that they could wear their mothers’ raincoats back to school. They looked like young bank tellers sweeping those raincoats off. On most of these borrowed raincoats, just like mine, at least the top half of the raincoat soaked through leaving the inner winter pile lining as the last line of a downpour defense. One girl caught my eye. She was widely perceived as a tomboy and a terrific athlete. She almost never wore a raincoat. She returned to school on this day of soaking rain in her older brother's olive knee-length cloth raincoat bonded to rubber on the inside. These coats were popular among students in the 1960s and 70s and they were a variant and longer length version of the Navy swamp coat. What caught my eye with her was that the drenching rain even served to subdue this girl’s usually defiant tomboy attitude: she looked satisfied and comfortably snug in the completely saturated green benchwarmer raincoat. She had gotten that raincoat so thoroughly wet on her walk from her mother’s car and up the sidewalk to return to school. Coming back into the classroom her hood was up over her soaked raincoat and her face radiated contentment underneath it.
Sitting down at my desk again next to Liz, upon whom I had a mild crush, I was tortured by the sight and scent of the rubber lining of her tan suede rubberized cloth and hooded raincoat which she draped to dry that morning over the back of her chair at our paired desks. Now I could happily join Liz, draping Amy’s long beige London Fog with its matching warm winter pile liner over the back of my chair. As I straightened up in my chair after reaching down to get my history book out of my lawyer’s briefcase, Liz was smiling and paid both Amy’s raincoat and me a high compliment. “You changed raincoats during lunch. I love your new raincoat. You look so good in it. I’m jealous and I want a raincoat just like it.” Quickly I whispered back at her: “It’s my sister Amy’s raincoat. I’d love to see you in it. I wish I had my other raincoat from this morning so that you put this one on to wear home in the rain.” Liz was tall and her body was beginning to mature. Amy’s raincoat was perfect for her. Before we got caught and scolded by the teacher, we quickly got quiet. I was glowing after Liz’s compliment and I indulgently snuggled back into the furry liner of Amy’s raincoat. My Mom’s trick of spraying the liner and especially the armpit area of our raincoat with Secret spray deodorant helped mitigate my skanky fifth grade boy odor as the excitement of a rainy day made me stress sweat even though the drenching rain was cold and wet. The scent of the spray deodorant added to the luxurious feeling of Amy’s raincoat. On that rainy day sitting next to Liz, and with both of us snuggling into our raincoats, the classroom became ever more pleasant. The lockers were full, and the rubber aroma from the draping wet slickers that were hanging there in the back of the classroom filled the room. The smell of yellow rubber is so wonderful.
The crossing guards now had about an hour’s break after lunch before they had to get back out on their posts at 2:00PM when the high school classes ended for the day. It was not enough time to go home to take off their raincoats and fire up the hairdryers to somewhat dry off. Those who were in downtown locations could take refuge under overhangs or in coffee shops or pizza parlors, wherever a friendly store owner could offer a brief respite from the rain. They jostled along in those heavy rubber slickers and raincapes, feeling twenty pounds heavier from all the accumulated water on their dripping raincoats. Those in out-of-the-way crossings on residential streets went to their cars and turned on the heat to partially dry out even as they steamed up the car windows and sweated in their indispensable slickers. They huddled in their rubber raincoats counting the minutes before they and their raincoats would be back outside getting deluged for another two hours. For this brief time, while they were waiting it out, the rain had briefly moderated to showers. Central New Jersey had already endured two inches of rain that day. Much more would come, and it would flood a downpour again all through the school dismissal period that would take place over two hours. Those raincoats would get drenched yet again.
My Mom wanted to get to Sears to purchase a Miami Dolphins NFL football poncho for me to wear in heavy rain to school so that I could reserve my tan raincoat for showery rains and dress occasions. But the police, besides drenching their black to orange reversible police raincoats repeatedly in the constant downpour, had to close Route 22, the highway that ran across Central New Jersey. This was announced on the local radio station, and consequently, my Mom had to pull out Amy London Fog raincoat to give me some raincoat relief and cover me for the afternoon drenching.
The belt of towns along the Jersey Central Railroad lay beneath the Watchung Mountains. Heavy leaden rain clouds would just park over these suburban towns at the base of the mountain and dump drenching rain. Local rivers, streams, low-lying areas, and Route 22 which followed the base of the Watchung Mountains regularly flooded in severe rainstorms. In response to flood alarms, the police were out closing off flooded areas and roads. The police were out since noontime setting up traffic cones and barriers, and generally soaking their raincoats along with everybody else. My classmate Pam was the daughter of a police officer who came to pick her up at school and he told the teacher about the impending floods in many areas. Some local school districts dismissed an hour early that day, but not our town. Never our town! No matter how hard it was raining or snowing we had to just pile on the raincoats or the winter gear. It never snowed during our elementary school years. We just went through the fall or winter having at least two or three days of heavy rain each month and turned to our raincoats. Pam who was tall and had an adult’s body, even in fifth grade, put on her mother’s heavy voluminous plaid raincoat that she must have worn to high school back in the day and was taken home by her father. It was time for us to get into our raincoats, ponchos and slickers. It was pouring again.
My seatmate Liz and I basically swooned into our raincoats. I sank my arms lusciously into the arms of Amy’s London Fog and pulled that wonderful long raincoat around me, buttoned it, and after putting on and securing my bomber hat, adjusted the raincoat collar for extra protection. Liz adjusted her long brown hair, pulling it back and letting it drop fully covered and protected by the hood on her tan rubberized cotton suede raincoat. As she finished, and I picked up my lawyer’s briefcase, she complimented on my raincoat again. “You look so good in that raincoat.” Some of my other classmates picked up on her compliment and mentioned: “Joe’s in his lawyer’s raincoat. “He looks like Perry Mason,” (a popular TV character of the time.) “He’s always dressed for a downpour.”
Others pulled on their raincoats, fully aware of the downpour outside the classroom windows. Seeing the slanting, driving rain, I was reminded of the Robert Louis Stevenson poem from a third grade English class that described “the rain that rattles and roars.” One classmate, Tom, enjoyed doing up the brass clasps of his helmet hooded black slicker noting how quickly he could put on his raincoat and cover up. Knowing that a relentless, merciless rain was going to deluge our raincoats again, all of us covered up under our coats, slickers, hats, and hoods for dear life. The girls who wore long hooded rainproof winter storm coats were calm and collected as they lined up for dismissal. They were dressed to get thoroughly drenched on their long walks home and still stay dry. Janet in her Winnie-the Pooh red trench coat was also dressed to take a thorough drenching as were the girls who could wear their mother’s winter lined balmacaan raincoats or the borrowed rubber raincoats that once belonged to older brothers. The girls who wore the clear vinyl raincoats imposed over printed cloth almost did as well in the heavy rain. The dressy lightweight raincoats that some of the girls wore to school in the morning were dispensed with at lunchtime in favor of heavier raingear. There were a few girls who wore junior balmacaan raincoats and matching rainhats like my tan Briarcliff. They would suffer the fate of soaking their raincoats shiny just as I did at lunch. If their moms were like mine, these girls would arrive home and their mothers would fully expect their girls to be drowned in soaked raincoats and they would steer them immediately into a hot bath. Soaking her raincoat was what a woman had to expect if she was going to be out in the world and it was a lesson soon learned at a young age.
The boys were lined up, ready to jostle home in their rubber slickers. They were now prepared and expected the rain to pour down on them in relentless torrents. They were grateful to be dressed like the crossing guards in yellow rubber or the police in their black rubber coats. The rain would pour down without let-up or relief on those slickers, continuously soaking the boys in their raincoats. The boys in the NFL team ponchos let the rain come down, driving down in buckets on their ponchos and making a cacophonous drumming sound on their rain hoods. And I was in a London Fog on my fifty-minute walk home. The rain poured just as relentlessly on the London Fog as on all the other raincoats. And then poured some more. And then still some more. Outwardly, I was getting Amy’s London Fog soaked. But within her raincoat, I was protected by the inner barrier shoulder cape which London Fog called a “third barrier” and that thick luxurious pile liner. I could see why Amy loved this raincoat. I think she could have gotten away with wearing it today and keeping dry going up to the high school. Luckily for me and for my comfort and protection on this total raincoat day, she did not. And I had the treat of wearing it.
If the crossing guard at the head of my street had any spirit of resistance in him on that day; it was now washed away by the rain that continued pouring on his full-length rubber raincoat and raincape. He and the other men and women crossing guards were looking forward to getting home out of this autumnal monsoon, finding a place to hang their heavy rubber raincoats to drip puddles on the floor, take off their wet and squishing rainboots, strip, and probably by now, peel off their wet uniform clothing and finally, at last, to indulge in a hot shower. The police were not to enjoy such a luxury to almost midnight. The rain would let up for a period between 4PM and 6PM. The police had a short time to dry out before the flood alarms sounded again. The highway would have close for the entire evening. The worst of the rainstorm had now come over us in waves in a mid-evening torrent. The police had to endure a four-hour slicker-soaking downpour from 6:00PM to 10:00PM and then the two-hour flooding aftermath before the waters receded at midnight. Then, they could call it a night.
I arrived home and my Mom helped me slide off Amy’s raincoat and put it in the furnace closet. My Mom was pleased that the raincoat had stood up rather well to the ferocious rainstorm; in fact, she was praising London Fog to the pouring skies. She let me relieve my customary burden in the bathroom. My younger brother, Paul arrived home. He was driven home from school by my mother’s closest friend. His rubberized benchwarmer raincoat was very wet, but he would have to wear it outside again with my Mom and I that afternoon on various errands. My Mom now pulled my dry and very warm tan Briarcliff raincoat from the furnace closet for me to put back on over my black rain boots . I wore my trusty bomber hat again. We went to the supermarket in the next near the Central Railroad cut. My mom crossed the store parking lot to go into the store while my brother and I watched trains in the flooded railroad cut. The afternoon eastbound freight with three engines plunged forward through the flooding. It was quite a sight to watch the train battle the elements.
My older brother Bob would soak his black Aqua Haven raincoat that afternoon just as he had going to school that morning. He had an hour walk downtown to his afterschool job at the public library. He would be at the library and finally out of the rain until 9:00PM. Hilary was also walking a relatively short 20 minutes from the junior high school to the library to do homework. She then walked home from the library an hour before supper. It was still raining hard enough to justify her long rubber Lacrosse crossing guard/safety patrol rain slicker. She left with all the other junior high school students who piled on their raincoats for the afternoon drenching. At least they did not have to stand outside for the wet down as they had that morning. They had a long but direct walk home to let the rain pound at their ponchos, soak their slickers, and drench the balmacaan raincoats or trench coats that some of them wore. They had just spent six and a half hours sweating out their adolescent bodily odors in the sweltering steam heat of the ancient junior high school. That wasn’t the only thing they had to endure. The long morning walk through a drenching, sadistic downpour. Standing outside that morning and awaiting the doors to open in a wet down as the rain pounded away at the protection afforded by their ponchos and slickers. And more and more of that dehumanizing sweat in the steamy sauna of a hothouse for early adolescents. There was nothing worse than a full day of torrential rain in a junior high school with steam heat and all the windows shut tight. You couldn’t wait to go your locker and get your raincoat for the dismissal at 3:00PM. You would gladly accept the drenching rain pouring down in buckets on your raincoat just to be free of that sweat box! An overheated adolescent boy or girl could let the rain pour even if it soaked those wearing a Robert Hall Balmacaan raincoat into a sieve. At least, the bedraggled kids were finally cooling off! Even on the short walk to the library and fully covered in her yellow rubber raincoat, even Hilary, normally an ice woman, was venting steam through the underarm eyelets and the caped back of her heavy slicker after a day in the junior high hothouse. Unlike the morning, the pounding rain this afternoon did not produce a headache under her helmet hood. For her and her classmates, this rain was freedom and relief. When she left the library for supper, she enjoyed going out into a moderate rain. On the last part of her walk, the heavens opened to start their mid-evening torrential downpour appropriately soaking Hilary’s slicker in a final drenching in case she forgot why she wore her rubber raincoat. She was streaming wet in her slicker upon arriving home and to me she never looked better.
Amy finished basketball practice, showered, slathered on deodorant, put on her undies, skirt, oxford shirt, sweater and long yellow slicker. She put on her rain hat over her damp hair. She liked and prided herself in being a low maintenance chick. Nearing 6PM and after a long afternoon of basketball practice, she walked home as quickly as she could toting her dirty gym clothes and her schoolbooks in an increasingly drenching heavy rain. She slogged briskly through the heavy rain making the skirts of her raincoat billow across the open field before she finally got to the wooded pathway close to home. She was so hungry and rushing so much that she couldn’t stroll in the rain as she preferred. But she was grateful for the hour of freedom to let the rain drive down her slicker just as she anticipated it would that morning. She let the rain pound and pour. Arriving at home, my mom helped her out of her slicker and took both the dripping wet raincoat and her dirty laundry out to the garage. Almost unladylike, Amy shoveled supper into her mouth ravenously. My Mom came back and playfully pulled at Amy’s hair to try to get her to slow down. When Mom, Amy, Hilary, Paul and I finished supper, Mom got Amy’s London Fog from the furnace closet. She opened it for Amy who put it on with a flourish and snuggled into her coat. (Just as I had at lunchtime.) My Mom took Amy in the car to join my brother at the library to do a few hours of homework. Then, Mom went to pick-up my Dad at the bus stop. The bus was late due to the highway flooding and having to take an alternate route on higher ground. He had soaked his raincoat continuously all day and upon getting home, hung his raincoat to drip dry in the shower.
After a while, my Mom sent me to a hot shower. My legs were hurting. It was a sign that even I had enough of slogging around all day in heavy rain. The shower was the perfect antidote and I was soon feeling satisfied and sleepy. My Mom saw me briefly before I went to my bedroom, reminding me that I had to say thank you to Amy for “borrowing” her London Fog for some “raincoat relief” after soaking my raincoat in the torrential thunderstorms at lunchtime. I got into bed and got my legs warm and stretched completely satisfied that I had enjoyed this “serious raincoat day” to the utmost. It turned out to be everything that I anticipated the night before.
My Mom went to the furnace closet and pulled out her navy London Fog that she had previously completely soaked before lunchtime. She nestled into her dry raincoat and went out in the worst torrential rain of the day to pick up Bob and Amy at the library. Just getting to the car drenched her raincoat again. The three of them came home – Mom and Amy held up well in their London Fog raincoats, but Bob’s raincoat couldn’t take the buckets of water dumping torrentially that evening. His raincoat had soaked the black cloth shiny and he came in the house looking like a wet seal cursing the monsoon. (I would experience this when I grew into his Robert Hall raincoat in two years and wear it to junior high.) Bob was able to sit down and have dinner at last. Amy had a bit more of supper, eating more slowly this time.
After a while, Amy knocked and came into my room carrying her still wet London Fog raincoat. It would dry out in her room overnight so that she could wear it to school tomorrow. She looked tired as she kicked off her Bass Weejuns that she wore to the library after getting out of the wet squishing rain boots that she wore to school. Draping her raincoat across her lap, she sat down on my bed and playfully brushed my hair and gave me the business: “Joey must have had quite the day. He totally soaked his raincoat coming home at noon and I heard he had to wear my raincoat back to school after lunch. Then he tried to soak it coming home after school but of course he couldn’t. Now we know how to keep a man dry. Just put him in a big girl’s raincoat! She laughed and playfully brushed at my hair again. Ever fresh, she said: Did you like sinking your gassy butt into your sister’s raincoat as much as she does? “Yes, I did”, I daringly said. “Thank you Amy. I loved wearing your raincoat. It was like heaven. And, you are the best for being so pleased that I wore it.” “Good!”, I hope you didn’t stink it up, giggling to herself as she sprayed the raincoat liner with the same Secret Deodorant that I had slathered on my armpits after my shower. Now using her still wet raincoat as a blanket over her, she laid atop my blanket next to me. “It was a perfect day for us, wasn’t it? “Yes, it was”, I said. My sister looked perfect still dressed in her school clothes and using her beautiful raincoat as a blanket as she lay on her stomach. Amy was recharging some of her end-of-the-day exhaustion nestled on my bed. She continued to review this torrentially rainy day. We both liked to recall our most enjoyable experiences after a day of heavy rain:
“Well, we can sleep soundly tonight. We soaked our raincoats like there was no tomorrow. Mom’s got raincoats drying out all over the place downstairs. It must be her version of interior decorating.” We both laughed.
“Is your stomach cramping?”, Amy asked. “A little”, I said. (It was actually cramping more than a little.) “Just fart it out with me. Don’t hold back. I need to fart”, Amy said. Amy blasted a long fart under her raincoat, and I followed pushing a long column of gas down into my bed now that I was under the covers. “Ah, we have our relief”, my sister sighed as she sprayed deodorant in the air to counteract her woman gas. “It’s a good thing that Mom lets us wear our raincoats whenever we want. It more than makes up for the fact that she is going to kill us with her cooking. Between that and the stupid cafeteria food at school. Thank God we can both fart it out!” We both laughed. Amy then got up and kissed me on the forehead and whispered: “On those rare occasions when you see me going out looking like a taxicab in my huge yellow slicker, you can wear my London Fog anytime you want. Or you can wear my slicker almost all the time. It’s the duty of a sister to keep her favorite brother dry. You can count on it. I love you”
“I love you too”, I said. Good night. After Amy left, I rolled over on my stomach and fell asleep, content with the knowledge that I just lived the perfect day. Now rather than pounding, the rain was tapered to drumming on the porch roof before turning to a heavy drizzle while I slept. My sisters would join Bob and I wearing our Balmacaan raincoats in that periodic drizzle and cloudiness tomorrow. The wet down was over.
Hourly Rainfall Totals in the towns just east of Plainfield, New Jersey on October 29, 1973
Rainfall Total for 10/29/73 – 5.09 inches
Stories and fantasies about rainwear.
1 post • Page 1 of 1