The eighth day of June in 1974 was a day that started like any other. I remember it quite well, however, because of what happened later that day.
It was barely a month before my 10th birthday, and we lived in Sapulpa, OK. Our home was in a fairly new addition, Southern Hills, also called "Ford Hill" because Ellis Easterling, the local Ford dealer, was the developer.
I'm fairly sure it was a Saturday. Our family had gone to John F. Lahon Furniture in Tulsa to buy some kitchen chairs.
On the way back home, the sky turned green. I remember being scared of the weather, even though I didn't really know what was going on.
When we arrived home, we hurriedly put the chairs in the house then got in our car and drove to Pleasant Manor Nursing Home, where my grandmother was administrator and part owner. Only being nearly 10 at the time, I wasn't aware of all that was going on, but we were told we were going to "calm down the residents".
I remember talking with them and playing the piano for them. I remember the storm being quite severe outside.
Finally, calm returned and so did we.
At home, we found our boat and playhouse both turned over. The trash cans had been blown into the street. Mother had a fake tree on our front porch (a "poodle" tree) and it was blown over as well.
A tornado had gone through. We were very fortunate. Less than a mile from our house was my elementary school, Lone Star. It took a direct hit from the tornado and completely destroyed part of it, especially the gym and cafeteria. The classroom in which I was to have sought shelter had been completely destroyed, with the heavy cement blocks all falling inward where my entire class would have been hunkered down.
Repairs went on all summer and school started a little late that fall. I remember waiting in line for the cafeteria. The line stretched into the gymnasium. The floor was still buckled and twisted, rising more than 10 feet in the air.
In October or November of that year, I found one of the letters of "Lone Star" that detached during the storm. It was all the way out by the road, in the edge of the fence. I remember taking it to our principal with an air of accomplishment. He thanked me and told me that it would save them having to completely re-do and re-order the words for the name of the school.
So, for 36 years now, June 8th has been a significant date for me. I'll always remember it as the day the tornado destroyed my school.
That last big storm that came through, we had some people from the church in our cellar, and the 11 year old said the only reason he wanted a tornado was for it to destroy the school.
Sounds like an 11 year old! :)
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