Childhood Memories Friday: Tornadoes

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So, tornadoes are on our minds this week with the scary huge tornado that tore through Oklahoma.

While Indiana may not be the tornado haven that Oklahoma or Kansas are (in my mind, Kansas is always the biggest tornado state, thanks to Wizard of Oz), we get our share. And tornadoes are part of my childhood memories. I remember the seemingly frequent school tornado drills. We lined the hallways.

We faced the centers of the hallways, because I have a clear memory of opening my eyes and watching the teachers walk slowly down the halls, patrolling us and making sure we were keeping quiet and keeping our heads down. I’d try to guess the teacher by his/her shoes — those khaki pants had to be Mr. Rucker’s, the sensible lace-ups must belong to Mrs. Baughman.

Usually the drills were just that, but at least once during my elementary days a real tornado came through, and we were kept at school about 30 minutes past the end of the school day. One precaution was that the teachers were supposed to open the windows a bit, in the name, I suppose, of equalizing the air pressure. In listening to the radio this week, I learned that that type of thinking is a remnant of the past.

Most times, tornadoes came through when I was at home though, not at school. I can remember swinging on our awesome big swing from the giant backyard tree or doing some task in the garden, all the while surveying a greenish-gray roiling sky. That was a pretty good clue, along with the gathering wind speed, that something was about to happen in the weather department. The family usually gathered in our basement with the transistor radio on, listening for weather reports.

A few times tornadoes touched down in my hometown. I remember afterwards driving slowly past some leveled houses, and feeling such awe that I had been so close to a tornado, yet had been spared.

Then once, a tornado was headed our way while we were in church on a Sunday night. It interrupted the entire service, but I’ll leave that tale for you to read about in my memoir.

What about you? Do you live in tornado alley, or is there another natural disaster more likely for your area?

4 thoughts on “Childhood Memories Friday: Tornadoes

  1. I’ve heard it said recently that the school you grew up attending could potentially be a terrible spot to be in during a bad wind storm! Think of all the windows!

  2. I’m thankful that there are fewer tornadoes in Michigan than in Indiana and Ohio. But I lived through the tornado of 1974 that ripped through Cedarville/Xenia. The touchdown in Xenia is still considered one of the ten worst in US history. It was bad!

  3. I remember having a “real” tornado drill when I was a kindergartner at Jackson School. We were all in the front hallway of the school, since all the other hallways were one-side glass! Rachel Day, a friend, was crying and being comforted by Mrs. Wintin, our teacher. I don’t think I was scared, though. I also remember believing we had just dodged a tornado as dad and I drove to McDonald’s for our Sunday night weekly tradition.

  4. We had tornado drills, too, then when I was 13 we moved to NY State, and none of the kids in school had ever heard of such a thing!

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