After watching the emotional news over the last few days on the destruction of the tornado in Oklahoma, the loss of human life, from infants to the elderly, the utter, total loss of property, I am reminded of the stories my father would tell us about his life on a farm in Tornado Alley. Although he was born on a farm near Paris, Texas, he grew up on a farm near Gould, Oklahoma.
Dad lived a hard life, but a full one in Oklahoma. He was one of 10 children of William and Mardie Moon, one of those children dying as an infant. Eight boys and one girl, the girl being the youngest in the family (along with her twin), so the boys in Gould treated my aunt Nonie like a princess (if they didn't there would be 8 Moon boys to see to it they did!) Grandpa was a sharecropper, never owned the land he farmed, and they lived through drought, tornadoes, and bad crops. Dad would tell us of his time picking cotton, he said that was the worst thing they ever raised, because they couldn't afford the equipment for a cotton gin. The cotton would cut their hands even through the gloves they wore.
Of course, Dad loved to recall how they would WALK into town for the Saturday Night movies and get home around 1 in the morning, only to get up at 5 to start the day again. How they would walk to school 10 miles, uphill both ways! He had to work from the time he could walk, of course, living on a farm, but he also drove a school bus while he was in high school. School revolved around the planting and harvest seasons, they would be out of school during those times and basically in school all the other times.
Dad told us of tornadoes that would tear through the farmlands, destroying farmhouses, chicken coups, any other buildings that were around. Buildings were not as well built as they are today, so one could imagine how fast these buildings were destroyed when we see the speed at which this most recent tornado destroyed Moore, Ok. Of one of those tornadoes, I would like to share with all of you. It was a very bad twister, one that had already taken out many homes and barns. Afterwards, they went out into the town and saw a few dozen chickens lying in the road dead, still warm, but dead nonetheless. Dad said they thought about taking them home and cooking them, but when they went to pick them up he knew it would be impossible since the chickens were also full of wood splinters from the barns and such. This twister also took out an entire side of a house in town, but did not touch the piano that was next to the exterior wall, there also was a rose in a vase on the piano that was not touched.
Times were tough back in the day. There was no warning system, except the dark skies, etc. but no Doppler Radar or cable/satellite T.V. The results of the tornadoes are always the same, destruction. But, like my Dad, who lived through many of them and rebuilt their lives, helped their neighbors do the same, the good people of Oklahoma will rebuild, they are already helping their neighbors, and hope springs eternal.
God Bless Oklahoma.
(To my family: If there is any misinformation in this story, please let me know. My memory isn't what it used to be, but the stories that Dad told are still fresh in my mind.)