Bach, Mozart, God

On July 29, 1974, Peter Aven, a young violinist from Saratoga Springs, played a program of Bach and Mozart in the Helen Hughes Chapel. He was accompanied by a pianist he remembers as Mrs. Appleby, and she did a fine job. After the concert, Aven planned to go sailing, but dark clouds began to crowd the sky, the lake became choppy and what had been muffled thunder grew louder. So Aven called off his sail, and was saying goodbye to a friend in the parking lot when rain began to fall and he heard a sound like an approaching train. He saw others running toward the Store, and began to run with them. At that moment:

“… everything on the ground picked up and went straight up into the air as if someone had placed a gigantic vacuum cleaner nozzle above me. Leaves, sticks, even gravel, suddenly lost their sense of gravity and flew straight up… Then there were four or five gigantic blasts of lightning, milliseconds apart, with no time at all between flash and sound. The rain was blinding and I could barely see, but I kept on running. One of the thunderbolts must have hit a tree, because there was a tremendous crash and all around me, and forming a wall in front of me, there were now limbs and branches and leaves. Frantically I fought my way through the fractured foliage and finally made it to the store.

“At the time, Silver Bay was hosting a religious conference: the Quakers. Yes, there really are Quakers, and boy were they quaking. Over two dozen wet, wide-eyed and genuinely-impressed-by-the-power-of-God Quakers were crowded on the front porch of the sturdy stone store.”


The storm had topped and snapped 130 trees, but there were no serious injuries; Peter Aven was unharmed, although wet and shaking. He returned to his car, brushed off the leaves and branches, checked his violin very carefully, and then drove home. This and other adventures can be found in Aven’s Road Stories: The Experiences of a Traveling Musician (2012), available on Kindle, and in paperback and hardcover editions.


Photos from Silver Bay Association: A Pictorial History, 1936-1975


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