On June 8, 1953, I was seventeen and had graduated from Beecher High School the preceding week. I still remember vividly certain images from that day.
My father coming in from the front porch, describing clouds moving, seeming to stop, and reversing direcion, his saying we should go to the basement.
Looking out a west window and seeing the top of a good sized tree bent to the ground.
Coming up the stairs from the basement and there was nothing above ground but debris.. no house, no trees, no neighbors' houses.
Seeing an elderly neighbor still in her bed but her house was gone and the bed was in the middle of the street.
Going with some others into the next door basement to try to help the neighbor trapped by a beam.
Going to a collection center for lost property and finding my Polaroid camera with film in it and still operable but the case was covered in tiny stones imbedded in the leather.
Keeping my copy of Daphne Du Maurier's My Cousin Rachel found in a field, paper slip cover still on it , all pages intact but pitted with small bits of debris.
Eventually learning that a close family friend had died when he simply went out to close his garage door.
Returning to Beecher HIgh in 1957 to teach and the emotions involved being there during weather warnings in the spring of 1958.
I have always thought it strange that my memory of events since June 8, 1953 has always been clear and generally precise but many personal events before that date are indistinct It is like a curtain closed that evening.
Even now, 50 years later, if there is a tornado watch or warning, I cannot stay in a building if I cannot see the sky. I need to watch the color of the clouds, feel the wind direction, the air pressure, and then decide if we need to go to the basement as we did in 1953.
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