National Geographic : 1939 Apr
THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE Photograph by L. M . A. Roy DID OCEAN-BORN MARY'S GHOST GUARD THIS HOUSE DURING THE STORM? The lady who lives here says she saw a tall woman, with skirts whipping wildly, watching her son while he tried to prop his garage during the hurricane. Later the large elm tree at the right fell without touching the house. They believe the mysterious visitor was the ghost of "Ocean-born Mary," who lived here long ago, and that she protected the home and its inhabitants from harm. The house, near Henniker, New Hampshire, was built in 1780 or earlier (page 536). of something like 110 miles an hour at some places. That was one reason why the storm was at its worst on the eastern side of its center, and why the rise of the sea was especially great in Narragansett Bay. Look at the map and you'll see that that bay is V-shaped. As the storm wave swept up the bay, it was squeezed between nar rower and narrower shores. So it had to rise higher and higher. The business section of Providence, at the head of the bay, was flooded nearly two feet higher than the old high-water mark of 1815 (pages 543 and 546). LAUNDERING BONDS AND SECURITIES Men swam for their lives in the heart of the business district. Great coal barges were lifted up and deposited in the streets. A man knee-deep in water calmly tried on hat after hat floating out of a flooded haberdashery, until he found a fit! Horns of submerged autos, and burglar and sprinkler alarms, short-circuited by the salt water, added their din to the shrieking of the hurricane. The normal life of New England's second city was brought to a standstill. Not even safety deposit boxes were proof against the flood. Millions of dollars worth of bonds and securities in flooded boxes had to be washed and ironed on regular laundry ironers under watchful eyes of guards. Signatures and seals were washed from some of them, raising deli cate legal questions. From northern New Jersey to the Cape Cod Canal the storm wave devastated the coast, and few of the works of man pre vailed against it. Much of the damage and loss of life was directly due to the fact, as one scientist said, "that people seem to have a passion to build dwellings, and live, as close to the water's edge as they possibly can." Thousands of summer cottages and other dwellings were destroyed, badly wrecked, floated away, flooded, or undermined by the hurricane wave (page 548). A parade of cottages sailed up Nar ragansett Bay. The sea swept a man's wooden legs out of a window.