Saturday, September 5, 2009

Oklahoma Tornado Memories 1954

1954, I was in the first grade. We had just moved to a new house that had plumbing. It was just about two miles from my Uncle Ernest and Aunt Lynn's home. ( There will be more stories about them later).
It was a great time of life...for a 6 year old. One night, my dad and I were sitting on the front
porch talking about going over and playing with my cousins Donald and Robert the next day. They were like brothers to me. I was an only child.
Then, looking off in the distance, my father got a very concerned look on his face. He yelled "Mary! Get to the cellar!" and ushered me to the cellar next to the house. My mom was slow on the uptake and he had to go back and get her. He had seen a funnel cloud forming to the west of our house. Strangely there wasn't a door on the cellar, so he tore the shelves at the back of the cellar off and pushed them against the opening to 'hold the "door" shut'. The wind was terrible and howled unmercifully. To this day the green clouds can turn my stomach into a panic mode.

When all became quiet again, we ventured out to find the trees laid low, and mangled. Our house was not harmed, but my dad went into overdrive worrying about our neighbors and my Aunt and Uncle. We were piled into the car and off we took in the rain. My heart was racing along with the car engine as we set out to check on everyone...
The scene of my Aunt and Uncle's home was enough to stop the heart.
This is a picture of my Uncle Ernest in front of what was left of their house. They lived next to a railroad track, had been inside and took the sound they heard to be a train coming. All of a sudden, the house began to implode around them. My Uncle was next to the bedroom door and the closet. The doors came together to shut him in a protected spot. My Aunt and cousins were in the dining room. She threw them on the floor and covered them with her body. The bricks from the chimney, fell just past her body. The house was removed from its foundation and set next to it. Leaving the cellar a gaping hole filled with all manner of debris. It was a good thing they were not down there. A huge oak in the back of the house had a straw be thrown into it, sticking out on either side...It was still there the last time I spent time there. Hearts were filled with great joy everyone was united, alive, scared to death, but unscathed.












My Aunt and Uncle are both gone now, but they embodied the preserving spirit. They rebuilt and continued to farm in tornado country. We moved.