Mysterious lightning refused to leave Walter alone.

The bolt of lightning hit Walter’s gravestone, dead center, fracturing it in several places. 

I have examined lightning before—as one of nature’s grand and violent mysteries—that it is.  In past research, I learned that there is a theory that lightning is sometimes drawn to certain types of chemistry more than others.  For example, in our part of the world, it strikes oaks more than any other tree—maybe because they are taller or maybe their special chemistry is factored in as a type of magnet.

In one of my earlier ramblings, I reported that almost every member of one certain family had been struck—on separate occasions, not as a group.  Were they all wearing the same type of footwear?  Did they live high on a mountain or in a tree house, or was it their own special body chemistry that drew the lightning bolt?

These are the types of questions that pester me as I try to drift off to sleep.  I did not include Walter Summerford in my earlier reports, but he is too interesting to ignore.  He was struck by lightning on three separate occasions as he traveled this earth.  

In 1918, during WWI, Walter was a British officer stationed in Belgium.  He was galloping his horse through a field when he was struck for the first time, by a fiery bolt.  It knocked him off his horse and paralyzed him from the waist down.  If a bullet doesn’t get you lightning will.  He was forced into early retirement.

He moved to Vancouver to rebuild his life.  He worked hard to rehabilitate himself so that he could walk again.  He was able to participate in some of his much-loved sporting pastimes and he found himself fishing along a peaceful river one day in 1924. 

There did not seem to be a cloud in the sky and after he had caught a few fish he propped himself against a tree to rest. 

Crack!  A lightning bolt came down from the sky at that very moment and struck the tree upon which he was resting.  When he came to, the right side of his body was paralyzed.  What an unbelievably cruel act of fate!  For some reason, though, the second jolt of lightning seemed to actually help him recover better use of his legs.  Walter was not one to give up. 

He tried once again to rehabilitate himself.  It was grueling and painful work.  He made great progress.

In 1930, on a beautiful clear day, he decided to take a walk in a nearby park.  The beautiful day turned almost instantly into a dark, snarling, storm.  Once again, lightning came down from the sky before he could reach safety.  This lightning strike was the unkindest of all.  He was totally paralyzed.  Walter was still determined to come back from the awful event.  He struggled for two years but finally died in 1932, breaking the hearts of his loved ones.

In 1936, Walter was slumbering peacefully where he had been laid to rest in the Mountain View Cemetery in Vancouver—that eternal sleep.  The lightning was not through with Walter, yet.  A storm rolled in—a storm with lightning.  A thunderous clap boomed in the sky and a fiery bolt hurled itself earthward.  The bolt of lightning hit Walter’s gravestone, dead center, fracturing it in several places.  It was an extreme force that almost seemed intentional.

The story of Walter Summerford is reported in several different articles as the true events in the life of a real man.  I have run across it many times.  Another accounting says that the story of Walter Summerford is a composite of several people, a legend that has been handed down.  Whatever is the truth, we do have a picture of his gravestone.  Make of it what you will.

Sara Marie Hogg is the author of the historical mystery, It Rises from the Pee Dee. Please click HERE to find the book on Amazon.

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  • Jackie Taylor Zortman

    Stories like this are difficult to believe when they are told by someone who writes fiction. It would make great fiction, wouldn’t it?

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