Mrs. Diane (Burrows) Perry
Interview Conducted May 31st, 2007:
Mrs. Perry was 13 years old at the time of the tornado and living in Fremont at the time. Her mother and father went to Poplar Bluff for the day and left her Grandma and Grandpa to run their general store. Diane was at the store with her grandparents. They were all sitting on the front porch of the store with the Postmaster, L.D. Smith. and Mrs. Smith. They saw the tornado approaching and her Grandpa said, we need jump in the car and get down to the house (he lived a mile below town) and into the cellar. And as a typical 13 year old, she said, No - Mom and Dad left me to run the store, and I'm gonna run the store! And she wouldn't leave. Later on, her Grandpa said that is probably the only reason they lived, as they wouldn't have had time to get to the house and into the cellar. They would have probably gotten caught up right in the middle of the storm. So, they can into the store and got down on the floor. They had opened the back door, because someone had told them to do that. And when the tornado hit, that back door was flopping back and forth and groceries were flying off the shelves and hitting the floor. She decscribed the scene outside as if you were swimming in muddy water. It looked muddy water outside, as trees were flying through the air. Then the glass windows in the front of the store began to break and pieces of glass were hitting them in the face. They had to move to behind the counter, so after that, she was unable to see anything else. After it was over, they went back outside to survey the damage. Her Grandma and Grandpa wanted to go down to the far end of town to check on Grandpa's sister, Alice, and her husband Jack, who were killed. So Diane was left at the store by herself and she remembers people just walking around like chickens with their heads cut off. Diane wanted to leave the store to see if her house was left intact. So she took the money from the register and stuck it under some newspapers and just walked out of the store and left the door open. Her house was on the west end of town and it was just fine. She wandered down Hwy 60 and joined the rest of the townspeople who were just wandering around, not knowing what to do. Then she went back to the store and waited for her parents to return to Fremont, which they did, about 3 hours later. Diane later added that her father worked in the tie yard across the street from the store and the railroad ties were blown away. However, blades of grass were stuck into the ties.
On a side note, Diane's sister, Linda Norton added a story about Alice and Jack Alley. About 3 weeks before the tornado hit, there was a flood that occurred in the lower end of town. Jack and Alice lived near the creek that flooded. People were taking boats to the lower end of town to rescue residents living there. When they got to Jack and Alice's house, they found them on the very top of the house, just sitting there waiting for the water to recede. They refused to go with the rescuerers and adamently wanted to stay with their house. Three weeks later they were killed in the tornado, but they had stayed with their house.