Introduction to Isaac's Storm
This is a character essay about the character Louisa Rollfing from the historical fiction novel Isaac's Storm. This book takes a thorough look at the everyday people who lived in Gavleston, TX when the hurricane of 1900 hit, destroying the city. The book also takes a close look at Isaac Cline who was the chief meteorologist stationed in Galveston at the time of storm.
Louisa Rollfing's Beginnings
Louisa Rollfing had her beginnings on a small island in the Northern Sea. Early in her life the small German girl's village began to empty with the people leaving for a better life in America. As a young woman there were times when she felt that her island had grown so empty that the only person that she ever made contact with Madam Michelson, the lady she worked for. Her escape to America came once a cousin of hers made a place for her in the new country, and sent Louisa a ticket to join her. After this, the young girl arrived in America where she found work as a house cleaner, and met Mr. August Rollfing. He was also a German immigrant, and they fell deeply in love; soon thereafter, they made plans to be wed in November of 1885. One week before their wedding though a fire swept through their current town, Galveston, TX, burning much of the town. The couple in love married anyway, ignoring what some saw as a bad omen.
They began to rent a small white house on 32nd and Broadway, and Louisa immediately began to work on making her house feel like a more expensive beautiful house. “We felt as if we has heaven on earth,” was how Louisa herself described the feeling that herself and August experienced after all of the hard work that they had both put into the home. On April 8, 1888 their first son Peter August Rollfing was born. He was born months premature, and lived only seventeen days. Fifteen months after they buried their first child, another was born, Helen, then August Otto two years after. Then the last, Atlanta Anna was born. By this time, they had moved multiple times, for one reason or another.
Louisa Rollfing on the Day of the Storm
The morning of the Great Storm Louisa knew that this would not be a good day, she pleaded with her husband not to go to work, but he went anyway. The children played in the streets, even the ladies where wading in the water, “thinking it was fun.” Finally after her children convinced their mother that they were telling the truth about the great bath house being torn apart by the winds did she become worried enough to send her son downtown with orders to retrieve her husband from work. Young August found his father, delivered the message from his mother, and returned alone. Louisa became irate, but this mood escalated to an even higher degree once August came home and was irritated by the fact that Louisa did not have dinner prepared for him. She was furious at him for thinking that she had had time to think about fixing dinner with the water level quickly rising and parts of town dissolving into the wind. August left to pay his men, and told Louisa that he would be home only after he had done that, but not before Louise informed him that “if he didn't go immediately and get a carriage to take us away, and we in the meantime drowned that he would never have any peace.” This infuriated the man even more so and he left immediately.
At one o'clock a buggy pulled up to the house of Louise Rollfing. This buggy had been sent there on orders from her husband to take them to his mother's house. They set off in that direction of the island, but once they reached 40th street they could go no further; instead they headed for August's sister Julia's house. Julia had no idea how bad the storm was, even though she lived on the island on 36th and Broadway. At two o'clock, the storm picked up speed, and begun to sound “as if the rooms were filled with a thousand little devils, shrieking and whistling.”
On Sunday morning, August came from his hideous experience of the storm, and after finding his family not at his mother's house, he thought of his sister's house. About four o'clock the family was reunited as a whole.