July, what a great month to enjoy the outdoors. Mother told us to carry all eight kitchen chairs outside and line them up on the sidewalk. Then she gave two of us buckets of warm, soapy water and a rag with instructions to wash every square inch of those chairs. Yep, they were dirty alright.
It was a beautiful day but, as we worked, the sky began to fill with clouds and a little wind came out of the west. By the time we had those chairs back in the kitchen and arranged around the table, the clouds thickened and darkened with a strange tint we had not seen before. It didn't take long for the wind to increase in intensity, blowing every which way, and my mother ran out to the clothesline to gather some laundry. When she returned to the house, she had trouble closing the door; the wind tried to tear it out of her hands.
It happened my married sister and her husband were visiting that day and we saw my brother-in-law run to his car (a two-seater with a rumble seat which we loved to ride in) and drive it up the incline into the hay mow of the barn. Trees were bending, plants were flattening, dust was flying -- then the rain began. It rained and rained, then it hailed and rained. The hail increased to the size of golf balls. My mother ran up the stairs with a pillow to hold against the oval window to keep it from breaking. We scurried from room to room to look out the windows and we were very afraid!
We began to worry about the dog (we found him later in his dog house). My sister was concerned about her husband until we saw him standing at the doorway to the haymow with my dad. They were trying to pull the sliding doors shut and, as they did, the big door flew out of their hands into the air!
Now, we could see the enormity of this storm. One of my sisters was crying, mother was calling for someone to bring another pillow -- all the while the wind, rain and hail continued! I ran upstairs and down, landing on my knees next to someone's bed (I remember it was covered with a white chenille bedspread) and there I prayed for the storm to stop.
Finally, the storm did stop as fast as it had begun. We looked out at the littered landscape and saw one tree completely toppled having been pulled from the ground with its roots exposed. The roof of the silo was blown completely off its base, mother's flower plants were ruined, dad said the corn crop was a disaster. When we finally ventured outdoors, we found the dog dish two blocks away in the hayfield. Now the air smelled of newly turned soil and the clouds were beginning to break apart.
We were blessed that the house was basically unharmed, except that precious oval window did break in spite of my mother's heroic measures to save it. We were unable to replace it with another oval, so a workman installed a plain double hung window in its stead, which spoiled the character of our home! That storm came out of nowhere without any forecast. In 1939, we did not have the luxury of charming meteorologists reporting weather patterns and storms, so we were unprepared, but we were thankful the animals were okay and we were all unharmed. We were never sure if that was a tornado or straight-line winds. It didn't matter what it was called -- it had made us very frightened, but thankful.
Laura W. Berglund
Copyright, June 2017