the day the tank blew up

It was one more wearing day of Vacation Bible School when the lid blew on our summer doldrums. Many of the VBS workers had husbands or sons working at Lion Oil when the fire began. Other dashed in to help as soon as they knew.
One of the VBS teachers was driving down Arkansas 15 near the oil refinery when the lightning struck. “We knew the lightning hit close by and looked in time to see the lid fly up in the air and the fire erupt.”
On Friday, during a break in VBS, I greeted the day’s snack lady, “You stayed to help this morning.”
“Well, I haven’t helped much yet. My husband called asking me to run home and get some clean clothes for him. He stayed the night at the plant.”
Another worker laughed, “My husband was heading in town with the kids when he saw the fire. He turned around and raced home. His street clothes made a trail from the front door to the bedroom where his uniform was.”
I told them how we were watching video when a friend phoned with the news and offered a shelter in case we were evacuated. I worried about my son who is working there this summer. Half the time he has spent checking fire hoses for leaks. He was not scheduled to be off until 3:30.
At 2:30 my daughter and I took the deli-worker to his summer job. As traffic slowed in awe of the pillar of fire and smoke looming over the highway, my deli worker sighed wistfully. He was missing the biggest excitement of the summer. We left him at his ordinary job of cleaning counters, bussing tables and making sandwiches, far from the excitement of the fire.
After running a couple of errands, I headed toward the fire to pick up my member of the summer safety crew. Usually at 3:30 I whip around the corner and drive up to the office to meet him.
That day I stopped as I entered the street to the office, “You can’t go in any further.”
“I’m here to pick up one of your summer helpers.”
“You’ll have to pull off to the side here and wait for him to see you.”
It was a mighty long ways for him to see me. From that distance all of the men wearing the blue jump suits looked alike. I waved at a lot of men that day to tell them I was there. After 20 minutes of watching and waving, one waved back. Several minutes later he came jogging down the street. “They want me to stay over and help stock food and supplies for the men fighting the fire,” his face glowed with excitement.
“And you want to stay. OK call when you are ready.”
When he finally came home, he told of emptying out a church’s ice machine and gathering up sandwiches at a grocery store and sandwich shop. Not much, but he knew that he contributed his bit.
Even the deli worker ended up being involved when he had to help make up a rush order for 60 sandwiches for the firefighters.
The summer doldrums are creeping back as costs are added up, fire houses are rolled up and everyone tells and retells, “where I was, what I did when the tank blew up.”