Probably not a tornado, but there was a flood

There were no tornadoes anywhere in the United States on the day I was born. Well, that’s hardly surprising, we don’t usually have tornadoes in January in Alabama, although according to Significant Tornadoes, there were 62 from 1880 to 1989. My first memory of a storm with damage was hearing my mom say that when my dad was painting the interior of our house on Saundralane Drive, preparatory to our moving in, a storm came up and lightning struck the willow tree in the backyard, knocking it completely down. I always thought it was a tornado, but I don’t find that in the records. I think that would’ve been 1963, maybe. As usual, my grasp on chronology is weak. It was a storm nevertheless.

I’ve always loved storms. In that same house, the street flooded (1965?) because of a rainstorm, and I remember Rick and I looking out the front window of the house at the kids who lived across the street (who were doing the same thing). A car came down the street (a big old tank of a 50s car) and stalled out because of the deep water. At one point we could actually see water beneath the house through a hole in the floor. I’m not sure why there was a hole in the floor. Maybe it was the air return. Maybe the goats in the attic put it there. (Yeah, goats. Our imaginary friends looked like creatures from Dr. Seuss. And lived in the attic. And yes, Rick and I shared imaginary friends.) [Edit: Mom said we moved out of that house because of the mold from water under it. Rick had really bad allergies, so between the mold and the elm tree in the front yard that he was also allergic to, the environment was killing him.]

According to the records, there was one tornado in Madison County during the time we lived in that house. (I’ll correct this when I get a better handle on my personal chronology. I swear, Rick and I have talked about putting together a timeline so we’ll know what happened when. From the time I was born until I got married the first time, I lived in 7 different houses. Thus the confusion.) However, for the interest of my reader, an F3 tornado struck Bessemer on March 5, 1963, on its way to Homewood and then Mountain Brook (much the same course tornadoes take today). It destroyed 29 buildings and damaged over 200 in Bessemer.

Next entry, a split-level house makes a good tornado shelter, and for the first time ever, the lyrics to my song about rain, written in the early 70s.

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