35 years ago…

My family and I were sitting under a mattress in our garage, while the whole world (or at least our part of it) came apart. An F5 tornado hit our house totally destroying every thing we owned. We were left with just the clothes on our backs.

It started out as a nice day, but storms moved in as the day went on. When school was out, I walked home with my cousin like we did every day, in rain drops as large as quarters. We only had to go about 1/8 mile, but we were soaked when we got there. As the evening wore on, the rain turned to off and on hail. Mom and Dad picked me up a little after 4 and we drove home with hail the size of dimes hitting the windshield. Mom had framed a poster for me and we used it between us and the windshield in case the glass broke.

Mom laid my brother in the floor of the Living Room and started supper. Tomato soup. I will never forget it. Dad went to get my TV, so we could watch the weather, because he didn’t want to blow up the family TV if lightening struck. I’d just gotten it for Christmas and I didn’t want it blown up by lightening either and so we fought about it.

Dad went onto the front porch to gather some hail to show the guys at work. It was now larger than base balls and he didn’t think anyone would believe him. On the porch he hollered, “Oh my God, here it comes.” Mom came from the kitchen yelling “here what comes.” Dad yelled, “get the kids and get into the garage.” He ran and got a mattress and we sat in the garage in front of the washer and drier with a mattress over us. Every thing in our house came out that door, hit that mattress, and then flew out the double garage doors. But we were safe and sound under the mattress. Afterwards, it had all sorts of things stuck in it, but we were never hit.

The tornado hit once, and people watching from a distance said it split. One tornado went into the woods beside our house and dissipated. The other turned. (Daddy told us to be still after the first hit, in case another tornado were coming) Only seconds later, the second one hit our house full speed. I will never forget the sound of rafters being twisted like toothpicks. The groaning of the wood as the house was ripped to shreds all around us. The tornado tore at our house for probably a minute, but then it was done. It left in it’s wake devastation 1/2 mile long, leaving only two houses standing. There would only be two minor injuries thank God. I had grown up on the family farm. As each child married, Pa gave them two acres to build a house on. The houses that were destroyed were my aunts, cousins, and ours. We literally had no where to go. That was the only time in my life I ever saw my daddy cry, and that scared me worse than the storm itself.

That was the longest night of my life. More tornadoes hit the area that night, including my great aunts front yard. She’d offered her house for how ever long we needed it. Her stately old trees were standing when we got there around 10pm. They were all down the next morning.

So to say I am terrified of storms would be an understatement. I was only 9 years old. We lost everything, but ourselves and the dog. Even our car was damaged. Thankfully we had insurance and were able to rebuild, but that doesn’t get rid of the trauma a small child feels. It’s been 35 years and I still don’t like rain.


3 thoughts on “35 years ago…

  1. Unbelievable…I am stunned…I’ve got nothing to write. You and your family were truly blessed that day, to be left safe and sound in the face of that magnitude of devastation.

  2. Sounds like the tornado that hit Xenia (Ohio) in ’74 or was your’s part of the “great” midwest tornado storm that same day? I was at my jr high at a sock hop when we got word that Xenia had been hit. I was in the next town west of there. It was the worst I’d ever seen. I’m so sorry you lost so much.

  3. Tornadoes hit 18 states that day, killing hundreds of individuals. We were the lucky ones. Homes, cars, toys can be replaced, lives can not. Glad you were safe at the sock hop. I believe it was the worse day for tornadoes in the nations history. That first week of April that year saw tornadoes on Monday, April 1, and Wednesday, April 3. Damage was in the millions, deaths in the hundreds.

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