TORNADO STORY: THAT FATEFUL SATURDAY AFTERNOON June 28, 1924
Tornadoes weren't heard of in our Northern Ohio area. Rolling clouds of the foreboding sky made us hurry from the field when the storm came rolling in from the west. As a 12 year old, I’ll never forget that fateful day.
. It happened on Saturday afternoon, June 28, 1924. The day had begun clear and beautiful, but the afternoon brought cloudy skies. We had hurried to the field after our noon meal. Dad had an order for several crates of strawberries to be delivered later that day, and we kids worked as fast as our nimble finger would move. As the sky darkened, we didn't need to be urged to keep at our work.
Dad was watching the sky. Ominous clouds were forming in the west. One storm went around us to the south, and another to the north. We kept on, urgent in our project. Then Dad became uneasy. He called out to us and said, "It looks like this time the storm is coming our way. Take your boxes to the wagon and hurry to the house." As I mentioned before, we hadn't experienced any tornadoes up to this time, but we were familiar with bad storms. Louis, my older brother, hurried the horse and wagon to the barn in time. Dad closed the barn doors and we hurried to our big farmhouse. Mother had closed the chicken house and had also closed the upstairs windows. It seemed both Mom and Dad knew that this could be a bad one.
As a 12 year old, along with two sisters and a two year old brother, we sat at the dining room table. Mother lit the hanging lamp above the table. It was 5:00 o'clock on a June afternoon. It was dark outside, and inside too, yet we didn't seem to be overly frightened, now that we were apparently safe in our big house. We didn't go to the windows to watch the clouds as we did in following months and years. We had a full sized basement under that five-bedroom farm home, yet no one even thought of going down to it. Remember, we didn’t have tornadoes.
THEN IT HIT! I don't remember what happened in those minutes while all that destruction was going on. Louis must have felt some air movement and ran up stairs to see if a window had been left open. When he came down he said, "Shingles and tree branches are flying though the air. Let's get out of here." He wanted to pick up baby brother Gene, and leave the house. He thought the house would be blown down. Dad kept him from doing that. When our awareness returned, we had different stories to share. I remember, along with Dad, trying to hold the back door shut. He said, "I think the summer kitchen is gone. " Then we moved to another part of the house. Later we found the entire wall structure, door, jam and all, that we were trying to hold, out in the devastated orchard beside the house.
It all went so fast and when it was over, we were in a state of shock. We looked out ... where the windows had been, and saw that the barn, silo and garage were flat. Louis ran up the dripping stairs and found that the entire upper story was like standing outside.
Everything in the house, what was left of it, was wet and scrambled. I don't remember any of us crying. Maybe we did. We just walked around in a daze observing what had happened.
The fact that none of the seven of us was seriously injured, was a miracle in itself. That night we all walked to our various destinations, to neighbors who were willing to take us in. More heartache for Mom and Dad when they heard that a swath of the City's Bay shoreline was also taken by a similar storm at the same time, and both my older sisters worked in that area. That proved to be not true. Numberless stories could be told regarding how our family managed through the following weeks.
I was too young to know or understand how Mom and Dad reacted to this tragedy. What their inner feelings were when they SAW the destruction of their home and property? I never saw or heard them cry. That doesn't mean that they never did. They had gone through heartbreaks before, several severe ones, and each time kept their feet on the ground, knowing that God would care for them, just as He had in the past.
I am sure that on that fateful Saturday, they were thankful that God had miraculously protected each of us during this tragedy.
As you read this account of that “Never To Be Forgotten Saturday Afternoon”, you too could probably relate some trying experience with an overcoming victory. None of us is immune from the storms of life. They hit in different ways. Not all come with the physical damage that ours did. But usually they all leave with damage experienced and heartache left behind. Some touch us bodily, some in the midst of family relationships, some with broken friendships, some of an emotional nature. But God, with time, heals them all. As we trust in Him, He gives the courage and strength to carry on, just as He did for my family.
Why is it that we so quickly turn to God when distressing circumstances come our way? Maybe because we face problems that are beyond our control. We know that we are not equal in our own wisdom or strength, but God proves Himself to us again and again in these circumstances. We grow and are refined through these experiences. The greatest oak trees are the ones on the edge of the forest, where the wind is the strongest and there is little physical protection. When we study the lives of great men, we discover that each went through tragic storms of life and were made stronger by them.
Thank you Lord for the Promise....
"As thy days, so shall thy strength be." (Deuteronomy 33:25)
- Elsie K. Young
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