This is the account give to me by my dad, Ivan Osborne. He had just turned 23
years old in April. I was 10 months old at the time. My mom, Shirley (Norris)
Osborne and I were visiting her parents in Winona when the tornado hit. Mom
recalls that she remembers how bloody Dad was when he came to get us. She
thought at first that he had been injured, but it was from the other people
that he had tried to help.
My husband, Sherman Shedd, had gone with his grandfather, Sidney Shedd, and Luin
Roy, in Luin’s Sinclair truck to Van Buren or some point east of Fremont.
Sherman was too young to remember where they went, but he does remember that on
the way back, the elder men realized there was a tornado. They pulled the gas
truck alongside the clay bank across from Norris’ Garage, where they rode out
Fremont tornado, as told by Ivan Osborne:
"At 6:00 am: My sister in law, Alta (Breedlove) Osborne said, “It’s coming a
tornado!” She had been in one at Heber Springs, AR. She told my brother, Jay,
to take her to the cellar. I thought, “Maybe she knows something I don’t know.”
2:30 pm: Everything was still . . . the leaves on the maple trees were turned
right side up. There were no birds or insects. All nature was silent. On the
way to Alma Lee Johnston’s cellar, I almost got struck by lightening. A walnut
tree was blown over by the wind. As I went into the cellar, the top branches
hit me in the back and gave me a “boost” into the cellar.
The bridge we had just crossed blew away. Pappy (Thomas Winston Osborne, my
dad) bailed in the creek. He hung on to a guy wire (or anchor) . . .
everything turned black. I remember seeing debris flying past. Pappy was back
in a “depression”. The cellar had no door. Air pressure was so low it felt
like my body was going to blow up. It only lasted about 3-4 seconds, followed
by crystal clean air. I couldn’t recognize Pappy, because he was so grimy. It
was dry dirt, with no rain. There was no water in the creek.
Old men had parked themselves on a bench in front of the mercantile. I ran into
Elmo Huddleston (brother to Bertha Basham), but couldn’t recognize him. I could
only see the whites of his eyes. I had to ask who they were. He had gone into
the creek run about 300 yards from where Pappy had been. He seemed ok, but had
blood from abrasion cuts. I found “Fodder” (Doss) and Mary Hedgepeth laying in
their neighbor’s yard. I got them up, and went on to the lower end of town.
Jack and Alice Alley’s house had been picked up and set over in the creek run.
I heard somebody moaning. Alice was under the house. I got a 2 x 6, and pried
the house up off her. Rolla Johnson came. He sat on the 2 x 6 to hold the
house up while I crawled under to get Alice. He got excited, and the house came
down on both of us. Alice wanted to know about Jack, her husband. She said
they had both been standing on the porch. I looked for Jack, stumbled on
something soft. He was lying right in the gate. I had stepped over him twice.
The third time, I stepped on him. His shirt had blown over his face. Dirt and
soot had covered his body. I pulled his shirt up, and realized it was Jack.
His face was clean. I went back and told Alice that he was ok. I didn’t want
her to know.
Charley Hart, Elza Abrams, half a dozen men were sitting there. I guess they
were in shock. I got up, and went down what used to be the street. A man had
been dozing down by the Pentecost Church. Fodder had hired him to clear out his
creek run. His name was Roy Rogers. He lived at Birch Tree. He just died
about two months ago. He ran a dozer for Shorty Powell. I asked him if he
would take the dozer and clear a path out by Fodder’s dairy barn – between town
and Norris garage. He said, “I’ll do it if you’ll walk in front.”
Bead (Calvin) Bell, married to Ruby Norris, put the injured in the back of his
pickup so they could get to the Methodist Church on the west end of the street.
Phil Lueckle and Seaton Pruitt had the only ambulance (at Van Buren). People
began to show up. They couldn’t get to the lower (east) end. They had found
Mary Lou Norris’ mom. She was in her front yard. Delmar Jones’ wife, Della,
had run up on top of the hill to warn her daughter in law and two children about
the storm. They didn’t find Della until late that evening, down by the rail
road tracks, entangled in fence wire. Red and Earn’s garage blew away, and
pulverized the building. Delmar and Edward had been working in the log woods.
Delmar lost his saw mill, no insurance. Salvation Army and Red Cross came and
set up at the Methodist church. They provided blankets, meals, and clothing.
Dark came, people had gathered the living and took them to the hospital at
Poplar Bluff. Alice Alley died on the way to the hospital."
On a lighter note: For all of you who know my Dad, you can choose to believe
the following story at your own risk. He says he heard a rooster crowing. He
finally found it inside a brown ½ gallon Purex bottle. He said he had to break
the bottle to get him out.
~Submitted by Michelle Osborne Shedd. Dec. 23, 2007.