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My Grandfather’s Transistor Radio Became a Lifeline During Hurricane Sandy

That radio bonded me to my grandfather, and to God, when I was a child. Decades later, it helped keep my family safe during a disaster.

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(Photoillustration Tablet Magazine; original photo Yosef Ukraincik.)
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Sometimes, even my sons would pick it up and examine it with distant curiosity, as if they’d happened upon an unrecognizable relic from the past housed beneath glass in an antique shop. They have their 4G network to connect them to the world, a digital vault for their music, and a widescreen television on which they watch baseball with their grandfather. A transistor radio was of no real use to them.

That is, until the eve of Hurricane Sandy, when it became the sole lifeline connecting us to the outside world. “Well, I guess that finally came in handy,” each of the boys conceded in turn, their recognition at last that the future does not hold exclusive rights to all that is worthy.

***

On that first night of the storm one year ago, amid the howling winds and pounding rain, we heard a deafening blow that shook the back of our house. The windows remained intact, though we were certain that we would discover a gaping hole in our foundation as soon as it was safe to go outside.

Rain continued to fall the next morning, though gently enough to allow us to assess what had happened. The enormous branch that lay there on the wet grass had snapped off the towering maple in our yard, slamming against the house, but miraculously leaving no remarkable damage. We were in shock, both at having made it through just fine and in knowing the tragic, irrevocable losses others had sustained.

It was Oct. 30, the birthday of the son who bears my grandfather’s name, and the day before my grandfather’s own birthday. We pulled the cake out of the refrigerator and invited neighbors, who stepped over felled trees and debris to join us. Meanwhile, the man who cuts our grass appeared out of nowhere with a chainsaw to haul the tree branch away in sections, leaving us a few souvenir rounds of wood he thought we might like to keep.

Over the next few weeks, we slowly resumed our lives in a fog. My husband returned to work when power was restored, and the boys went back to school once the traffic lights came back on and buses could run safely. Surprisingly, the radio never made it upstairs to my husband’s bedside table. Instead, it found its way to the bookshelf in the dining room that holds the seforim. From its new perch by the window, it has a perfect view of the tree in the yard and the progress of life in our home.

***

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My Grandfather’s Transistor Radio Became a Lifeline During Hurricane Sandy

That radio bonded me to my grandfather, and to God, when I was a child. Decades later, it helped keep my family safe during a disaster.

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