Saturday, July 21, 2007


Tornadoes I Have Known

If you have lived in Texas for any length of time, you know about tornadoes. I was born in Wichita Falls, Texas located in the middle of an area locals know as "Tornado Alley." My first recollection of this natural phenomenon was on April 3, 1964. I was about a month shy of five years old at the time. It was the afternoon and when the tornado hit on the north part of town, my mother and sister and I were across the street at our neighbors home, "Murmer and Jack." They were an old, childless, retired couple and were like a third set of grandparents to my sister and I. This was one of the first tornadoes to be shown on live t.v. When Jack saw the report of the tornado, he said "lets go out on the highway and watch it, I know a good spot up on a hill where we can see it." So all five of us got in the car and drove out to the south west part of town and sure enough we watched the tornado a few miles away as it slowly moved across the horizon. I remember this as vividly as if it were yesterday. The sky behind the tornado was pitch black and the tornado had turned a bright white when it hit the Wichita River. Looking back I can't believe my mother put us in the car and let us go out to see it but I am glad she did. This tornado killed 7 and injured over 100 people and 225 homes and businesses were destroyed. About two weeks after the tornado hit, they opened up the air force base and my father drove us out there to look over the damage. I remember seeing bare foundations of homes, one after another with only a bathtub and a toilet left, everything else was gone. I remember seeing huge piles of debris which had been piled up by the bull dozers after the clean up efforts had taken place. The next tornado was again in Wichita Falls on April 10, 1979. I was in college in East Texas at the time. My father was no longer living in WF but went up there on business on a regular basis. The evening of the tornado, he had checked in at the Trade Winds Motor Hotel and upon hearing a commotion outside, walked out on the second floor balcony and he was treated to the view in the second photo above. He was unhurt, but his new Chrysler Cordoba suffered heavy hail damage as a result. This was the mother of all tornadoes. 3100 homes and businesses were destroyed, 1,700 injured and 42 were killed. This tornado hit the south west side of town. My parents knew a lot of the injured and people killed. The third tornado was when I lived out in the country in East Texas. It was a small tornado but it passed very close to my home during the middle of the night. It damaged some trees and destroyed a few barns but my home was not damaged. I did not see it but I heard it as it passed near the house. It was a weird sound, I hate to think what a big one would sound like. The fourth tornado in the last photo, with which I am familiar hit Fort Worth on March 28, 2000. Over 100 were injured and five killed. This tornado hit downtown and damaged a lot of buildings and sky scrapers. We lived several miles away at the time and we had a dog named Tillie that sensed the tornado, she went and got in an open clothes dryer and would not come out until the storm had passed. I guess she was smarter than I was that day in 1964 when I went looking for a tornado.

I remember all three of these tornadoes. I was in the third grade at Fain School in Wichita Falls when the 1964 tornado hit and it was just as you say. I was off at college at UT in 1979, but my parents and my aunt and uncle still lived in WF. It missed our house by about three blocks, although we had a tree and a fence down, but it destroyed my relatives' house. In 2000, I worked in Hurst and was staying temporarily in Glen Rose that week. I drove home about an hour before the tornado, watching the boiling clouds all the way. (By the way, the 1979 tornado injured 1700 people, not 170.)
Welcome to Dudleys Diary Texan. I went to Fain School grades one through four. You may have been in the same class as my older sister. She graduated from H.S. in 1974.

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Subscribe to Posts [Atom]