Air out the bedding and put in the bug bomb! Cellar cleaning time again. Ears tuned to the TV weather channel. It’s tornado season!
As a child I was naïve regarding weather. The only thing we had was hot and dry. In Colorado where we lived the weather was like that in the Oklahoma panhandle. Our robins used tongs to pull the worm out of the ground! Sometimes there was thunder and lightening. Promises, promises, but not a drop of rain. Our rainy season was on July 4th.
I came to Oklahoma City at the age of 18, from the town of Springfield, Colorado. Population 2500; Oklahoma City at that time was about 400,000. That is 160 times bigger than I was used to. And I found out about tornadoes. Folks told me they were much bigger than the dust devils that occasionally scurried across the Baca County corn fields. I was told about the odd things that happened like feathers being driven into tree trunks and cows being carried through the air. They said it was an udder disaster. They also say, that’s why Oklahomans have sirloins made from grounded beef.
I listened for the weather outlook with excited intensity. You see, I had just moved to Oklahoma City. I came here to go to Bible school where other boys and girls from far off states gathered to pursue our dreams. Dreams of romance, of course! Our Bible school had rigid no-touching rules; BUT, at the slightest suggestion of a tornado warning, we dashed to the cellar. I’m sure the chances of a fiddleback spider killing us below ground was greater than being carried away by a tornado above ground; BUT, again, romance was in the air and 39 boys and girls in a 16 x 16 foot dimly lighted cellar spelled recess to the no-touch rule!
So began my acquaintance with the fellow who is now my husband as well as my acquaintance with tornadoes.
Tornado warnings. When my boys were small that was the signal for our family as well as other young families to gather at the church basement for a great social time. Can’t say that we were ever very concerned about whether or not a tornado hit. In those days there wasn’t all that much coverage on TV – we wouldn’t have watched anyway because the carnage on Wagon Train and the romance on the Hallmark Hall of Fame provided as much “real life” drama as we wanted.
Tornadoes. Something that happened somewhere else! Couldn’t happen to us. Violent rain, terrific winds, but not tornadoes. One night we were sleeping with a window open about three inches when I was awakened by rain hitting my face. We were sleeping in a bed on the opposite side of the room – about 12 feet from the window. I got up. Put the window down. Said, “That’s some rain out there.” Crawled back in bed. Woke up the next morning to bricks having dropped off the sides of some houses in our block and apartments being flattened about four blocks from us. Wow, maybe there is cause to take these things seriously!
About the time I became serious, I found I had another problem. Next season my in-laws were staying with us. At 2:00 a.m. when the storm threatened, I went in to wake them. Told them to get up and go with us to the church because there was a tornado alert. My father-in-law told me to get out and leave them alone. They weren’t running from any storm. The Lord would take care of them. I said I was sure that was true if they were asleep but when we woke up, we needed to use good sense and seek shelter. He told me he would be asleep as soon as I got out of there. So I obediently “got out of there.”
Have you ever been at church when a tornado threatened? The preacher dismisses church to send everyone home. There is a terrible traffic jam caused by those leaving the church to go home, and those who are coming to the church to seek shelter.
After about 45 years in Oklahoma, we bought a place that had a storm cellar. The problem was in getting into the thing. It had a ladder rather than steps. I considered the odds and decided my chance of getting a broken bone was worse if I fell down the ladder than it was that a tornado would hit me. So I wouldn’t go down the ladder. My family didn’t like my stubbornness so my son built me some nice solid stairs into the cellar. So now, at last, Sammy and I have our own clean and bug bombed cellar. Safety for me, Sammy, plus ten other family members. That’s only 12. There’s always room for one more so come on over if you’d like – next tornado warning!