Abilene News

Published 3:40 pm Thursday, March 17, 2011

March 17 – As many of you know, my husband and I lived in Japan for many years and my thoughts have been on my friends who live there. This week's earthquake and following tsunami brought back many scary memories. I experienced my first earthquake when we lived in Panama but nothing prepared me for what we experienced in Japan.

Earthquakes are so common in Japan that hardly a day goes by that there is not a tremor somewhere. It is sometimes easy to forget that Japan is an island nation consisting of several hundred islands, the largest of which is Honshu, the site of the earthquake and tsunami. Japan sits on top of one of the earth's largest and most active faults, which accounts for its earthquakes and its large number of active and dormant volcanoes.

Sendai, the epicenter for the earthquake, was a beautiful area. Parts of the area are very rural. But the area along the coast was very metropolitan.

We have heard the newscasters talking about the need for food and water and we have heard them urging people to stay in their homes if they can. But the average Japanese home is much smaller than we are accustomed to. There is very little storage space and most Japanese kitchens do not have a refrigerator. Those that do have a refrigerator it is not much larger than an ice chest. Therefore, they do not keep a stock of food other than rice which is a daily staple. They shop daily for the day's food and would not have a pantry full of food and bottled water as we do.

Until now, the most destructive earthquake of modern times struck the Tokyo area just before noon on September 1, 1923. The force of the quake caved in and toppled several hundred thousand homes and buildings, but it was the fires that followed that caused the most damage. Over 100,000 people died in the fires that followed this great quake.

Now, in addition to the earthquake, fires, and the tsunami, we must add the nuclear threat. In a country that is almost completely energy dependent and has only one natural source of energy – water – the nuclear power plants have been a real boon.

We have also heard the news people talking about “earthquake proof” buildings. We have all seen those dramatic images of the sky scrapers “swaying”. An American, Frank Lloyd Wright, played a very important role in the design for earthquake proofing buildings.

Japan's Imperial Hotel was world famous for its luxury – in the 1890s! As the world continued to “open up” and more and more visitors were coming to Japan, the need for a larger, more luxurious hotel was obvious. In 1910, it was decided to replace the old building altogether with a larger structure. Eventually, Frank Lloyd Wright was engaged to design and supervise the construction of the second Imperial Hotel, which finally got underway in 1917. The first section of the Imperial Hotel opened on July 4, 1922. The completed hotel was officially open to the public on August 31, 1923.

The next day, at exactly 11:58 a.m., on September 1, 1923, that great earthquake struck leveling most of the city of Tokyo and surrounding areas reducing them to piles of burned-out rubble. Among the few modern structures left standing, was the brand new Imperial Hotel. With great insight, Frank Lloyd Wright had “floated” the pilings of the Imperial Hotel in the spongy subsoil covering the solid strata further down. As a result, his unique creation literally rode out the giant earthquake tremors the way a ship moves with the waves at sea.

As an interesting little factoid, in 1916, John Lloyd Wright, son of Frank Lloyd Wright, created Lincoln Logs as a result of watching his father working out the details for “earthquake proofing” the Imperial Hotel in Japan.

Friends And Neighbors

The Cardinal Quilt Guild of Prince Edward County met March 1 at the Douglas Presbyterian Church. We continue to work on quilts for the boys at the Patrick Henry Boys and Girls Plantation. The Quilt Guild meets at 10 a.m. on the first Tuesday of each month at the Douglas Church. Visitors, guests, and new members are always welcome. You do not have to be an expert quilter to enjoy this group. The next meeting date is April 5.

On March 6, the Beulah UMC hosted a meet-and-greet/baby shower for Chip and Carolyn Hoyle. They reside in Chip's grandparents', Albert and Georgia Davis, house. Chip's mother, Mary Blake Davis Hoyle, grew up in Abilene and moved away after her marriage to Harvey Hoyle. Chip and Carolyn are expecting their first child, a son, sometime near the end of the month. Everyone is anxiously awaiting the arrival of Zane Blake Hoyle.

A hearty well-done to Hunter Harris and his fellow sixth graders from New Life Christian Academy for designing tee-shirts – picking out the colors, choosing a theme, and selecting the wording – for their two teachers.

The Abilene Homemakers Club met on Mach 15 at the home of Madeline Slaydon. Madeline had prepared a delicious lunch with dessert – a delicious spice cake – by Violet Thackston. We then got right to work on the quilt we will be making for our fall raffle. It is shaping up to be a real beauty! The Abilene Homemakers Club meets the third Tuesday of each month. Visitors, guests and new members are always welcome. The next meeting will be on April 19. We will work on little Easter baskets for the children at the Piedmont Juvenile Detention Center, one of our outreach projects.

The Abilene Community Club will be hosting their St. Patrick's Ham Dinner on Saturday, March 19, at the Abilene Community Center. Members have tickets to reserve dinners and tickets will be available at the door. The cost is $7.50 for adults; $3.50 for a child. Take-out orders can be picked up between 4 and 5 p.m. Dining-in will be from 5 to 7 p.m. Proceeds will benefit the Community Center operations.

Belated birthday greetings go out to Chris Thackston, Shyrl Marston, and Donna Thackston, who have all celebrated recently. And belated anniversary wishes to Nate and Margo Noble.

Happy Birthday wishes to Doug Hayes who celebrates on March 18, Nancy Nelson who will celebrate on March 28, and Harold Harris who will celebrate on March 30.

Mark Your Calendars: On Saturday, April 16, at 2 p.m. the Abilene Community Club and the Beulah UMC, will co-host a community Easter Egg Hunt at the Center.

If you have any news or announcements that you would like to share, please call me at 223-2271 or e-mail me at kz5ro@kinex.net.