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1949 Tornado Memories

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Sunday, May 17, 2009

At the time of the tornado, I was a student at SEMO State and was living with my parents at 7l0

N. Missouri Ave. On that Saturday, my parents were entertaining their pinochle club with dinner

and cards and I was going to the Broadway with some girlfriends to see " Little Women" Ruth

Gene Leming had her folks' car and picked up me, Betty Low and Mary Dale Magill. After we

were all in the car, she told us that she had to pick up her younger brother Paul at the barber shop.

The barber shop was across the street from Hirsh's store in Haarig. While we were getting him,

one of the girls commented on a very black cloud to the south. The sky got darker and darker as

we approached the Leming home on North Street. When we got there, Mrs. Leming was on the

front porch and said she thought we should all come in the house as there was going to be a bad

storm. All of us went to the basement with Mrs. Leming and her children. We could see a lot of

limbs and leaves blowing by outside one of the window wells. After it died down, we went

upstairs and could hear lots of sirens. At that time, you could lift the receiver on your phone and

ask the operator where the fire was. When we did that, the operator said that there was no fire,

but there had been a bad storm. Mrs. Leming said that she thought we should all go home

instead of the movie, so we got in the car again and Ruth Gene drove up by Academic Hall,

down Normal to West End Boulevard. That was as far as we could go because of the debris so

Betty Low and I got out and began walking home. Obviously the Lord watched over us as we

walked through a few blocks of downed power lines and the like. When I got home, my folks

were thrilled to see me as they had gone to the Broadway and I was not there. Our home had lost

most of the roof and a 2 x 4 from some place had come through a front window. Most of our

screened porch in the back was gone and My Dad said that at the height of the storm, it had lifted

our furnace several inches off the concrete and set it down again. Many of our neighbors were

not so lucky as everything to the north of us was leveled. The first house on our side of the street

belonged to M.G. and Merry Gay Lorberg and their brick house was leveled. During the

summer, I helped them chip mortar off the bricks so they could be used in rebuilding. The Nanna

home across the street was leveled too and the Nanna family lived in a tent until it was rebuilt.

Their young daughter came to our house each day to practice for her piano lesson! At that time, I

was working on Saturdays at the Arnold Roth Insurance Agency so that the regular secretary

could have a day off each week. After the tornado, I worked every day until school began in the

fall as we had so many insurance claims to take care of. The tornado was terrible, but it brought

many people together and was a great time for neighbor helping neighbor. Even to this day, I am

frightened of windstorms because I well remember the devastation it brought to our town.

Betty Jo (Rauh) Hosea



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