Like a lot of people, I have a recurring dream. In this particular dream, it involves a race of man against nature. It involves a water spout. In the dream my father is racing against a water spout. His goal is simple; reach the bridge to safety before the water spout can cross our path and make things quite miserable for me, him and my mom.
This Actually Happened
The difference in my other recurring dreams is that this actually happened. My dad had a Dodge Charger. It was bright, fast, macho…everything that someone who worked at NASA at Cape Kennedy(as it was known back then) wanted. It was a Saturday on the Florida Atlantic coast. A day that was filled with the usual threats of inclement weather throughout the day as it’s prone to do in that area. We had spent the day visiting my uncle and going to Merritt Island mall. After meeting my uncle at one of his bars and me being distracted with endless quarters for the pinball machines, my mom decided we should head back home before the storms hit.
We lived in Melbourne at the time. To get there from Cocoa Beach, one goes down Hwy. 1A1. This is the road that basically travels up and down the far east coast of Florida. We said our goodbyes and headed out. I remember it as a good day because my parents were fighting after the alcohol had flowed and for some reason, my father was in a good mood. I had scored some nice toys at the mall. As we arrive into the Melbourne Beach area, I remember the suddenness of the rain and wind. The storm had arrived. I looked out at the waves with a bit of fear as they were crashing onto A1A by this point.
There is bridge that is called the Eau Gallie Causeway. This bridge crosses over the the Intercoastal Waterway and connects the older part of Melbourne to Indian Harbour. There is a bit of road that sits almost at water level before you actually make it to the bridge. When it storms in that area, the water from the Waterway will spill over onto the road. Not flooding it, but as a child, I thought it would flood and impede our safe passage home.
Take a right turn, Daddy
As we headed towards the Causeway, to my left I saw something moving. I yelled at my parents to look and there it was; a waterspout. It was headed down the Intercoastal Waterway as if it were on a leisurely stroll, but it was moving much faster than that. On top of the water tornado, the water was washing up onto the road. I remember my dad shifting gears with the pistol-grip shifter that Dodge used back then and the rear tires spinning a little as he gunned the Hemi motor.
My mother, for all the things she’s been through and experienced, kept calm. No screaming, no raising her voice. She simply said to my father, “Just drive, Jimmy.” My dad was an Air Force veteran. While he wasn’t a pilot, he was shot down twice. (that’s another story for some other time) When he wanted to be, the man was cool as could be and couldn’t get frazzled. He stared straight ahead with two hands on the wheel. Luckily, there wasn’t a lot of traffic on the road as he pushed the car forward with what I believe his only thought to be, “I’ve got to save my family.”
The road began to elevate towards the bridge. I remember watching from the back seat driver side windows then turning around with my knees on the back seat, the waterspout crossing over the road just behind us. The Charger lost a bit of traction due to the wind velocity from the outer edges of the water spout. I used to hate crossing over that bridge back then because I feared the metal grates wouldn’t bear the weight of cars constantly.
As drove down the bridge and then back up into Eau Gallie, I think my mom crossed herself and my dad looked in the rear view mirror and winked at me as I sat back down.