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     My Grandmother was Hazel Guthrie White, My Parents Hubert (Mac) McCormick and my Mother Eva Guthrie McCormick, were married Dec 31, 1946. So at the time of the Tornado they had been married a little over 3 months, and my Mom was pregnant with my older brother Roger; when the tornado hit. They were living in a semi-basement apartment, about a half a block from where my Grandmother was living. They were already in bed, but my Mother was worried about the wind, my Dad got out of bed to turn on the light and my Mother got out at the same time, but as my Dad reached for the light chain the roof blew off the house. My Mom said if she had not gotten up when she did she most certainly would have been killed, as a block of cement from the foundation, landed on the bed, weighing about 300 lbs.

     Even though there was no lights, my Mom relates it was not dark as the lightning lit up the skies. They headed for the door but though it was off the hinges, it would not open. About that time my Mom said something pushed her to the floor and my Dad came down with her, she knows that it was the Lord . They huddled in a corner by the door, as things were flying off the shelves, and mud and debris and broken glass, were deposited everywhere, but in the corner in which they crouched. An ice box slid down and they thought for sure it would hit them, but it stopped just in front, and an a old gas barrel slid in beside the ice box, but they had no idea where it had come from, rode in on the storm from somewhere. (They went back to the spot the next day and discovered not one piece of debris landed in that corner).

     After it stilled, my Dad went to the door, and it just fell away. When they got out of the house, my Mother could hear my Grandmother calling "Eva where are you". So my dad went to search for her, (my poor Dad was still in his underwear) and my Grandmother would recall that was how she knew help was on the way, by seeing my Dad's white underwear. The strangest part of all was my Mom finding her coat and my Grandmothers coat wrapped around a little peach tree, and after they removed their coats, both their purses where there also, though my Mom lived about a half block away.

     My Grandmother was injured, she had a gash in her leg and back. A neighbor took Grandma to Woodward Hospital, which was so busy you could not get past the front lawn, so they took her to Mooreland and treated her in the hallway of that hospital. My parents set out to see if Moms grandmother was ok (She was Emma Dell Root) when my Mother heard a voice say "Sis is that you" apparently they were so covered with mud they where almost unrecognizable, but my Mom's brother Willard Guthrie, found them. It was at this time my Uncle Bud came along (Herbert V McCormick, who took pictures) and he and my Dad left to see where they could be of assistance.

     My Uncle Willard (Guthrie) and my Mom went to the hospital to find their Mom, which was not an easy task with the injured any where they could find to lay them down. My Mom recalls it took her about 4 days for the reality of what happened to set in, apparently she had been in shock up to that point. Afterwards the Army came along and set up a tent on Grandma's Lot and My Mom and Dad stayed with Grandma until they could build her a house.

Submitted by: Belinda McCormick"

Aril 9, 1947,

     The day emerged pretty much as it had the past eighteen years of my life, a little more cloudy perhaps cool and damp. I dressed, had breakfast, helped dress La Nita, and the three of the four kids left at home, caught the bus and went to school.

     The day at school was unremarkable. We got back home around five as the bus trip always took at least an hour. After supper I remember the sky had a strange green hue and the clouds were low and moving very fast, the weather in Oklahoma was always unpredictable so we did not think much about it at that time.

      We were all in the family room, LaNita and Doug were both on Dads lap, he would either sing to them in German or tell them some story or they would comb his hair in-to strange hairdos. Mom was mending or doing some chore, she never just sat and rested. I do not remember what Floyd and I were doing, but we always sat in the evenings and chatted as a family.

      About seven or seven thirty, I took Doug upstairs to bed. He had made the remark in reference to the lightning and thunder”If God wants it to rain, it will.’ He kissed every one good night and we went up stairs. I got him ready for bed, put on my own pajamas, we got in bed and I was telling him a story, suddenly the house gave a strong shudder, so strong it shook the bed, I was alarmed, then it gave another strong shudder, this time I could smell the heavy dust in the air, I told Doug, quite calmly, “I think we’d better go down stairs.” I picked him up in my arms and crossed the room to the stairwell, the kerosene lamp was on a table by the door and I remember thinking, I should blow this out, I did and at that very moment the floor gave way under my feet and I was enveloped in blackness.

     I do notremember any thing until later (how much later I do not know) but I woke up walking in the yard, rain pouring down, some hail and lightning lit up the scene. I remember being overwhelmed by fatigue and saw the mulberry tree standing with piles of rubble all around it. I went to the tree and sat down and rested my head on the trunk, I had no idea what was happening, I just wanted to go to sleep. Over the loud claps of thunder I heard a horrible moan, I tried to ignore it but it continued. It was a sound so compelling I could no longer ignore it and followed it. By the frequent flashes of lightning I found Floyd and LaNita trying to lift an adobe wall off Dad. He was laying on his back with the wall on him all the way to his upper chest, even his arms were pined down. We were all bare foot, I had a gash in the bottom of my right foot and there were nails every where. Dad ask me “Have you seen your Mother and little Doug?” I said no and he said :“They must be dead.” He told Floyd to go to the barn and get the big jack to lift the wall,ofcourse the barn was gone to. I could see by the lightning lashes every thing was gone but the car, minus the garage, and the water storage tank and smokehouse under it. I put LaNita in the car, she was only eight and to small to help, where it was dry and warm. Turned the car lights on, I’m not sure why, then Floyd and I got the jack from the trunk of the car and proceeded trying to raise the wall so at least Dad could breath a little better, however the wall just keep crumbling under the jack.

     Dad told me to go get help, I started to the nearest neighbors, they lived about a mile north of our place. Floyd continued with the jack. When I got to the creek I waited for lightning flashes to be sure the bridge had not washed out, it was still there, I crossed it and was soon at the neighbors, their dog barked at me and I was sure it was going to bite me but of course it didn’t. They answered my knock and let me in, I told them what had happened and he got on the telephone at once and called the other neighbors, the phone lines had not even been touched.

     Mr.Ehrlich took his flashlight and left, by then I was collapsing she helped me get into dry clothes and I tried to lay on her bed, she of course knew I was in shock and did not want me to go to sleep, I was sure she could see how dirty and muddy I was and just did not want me on her bed. I do not remember being taken to the hospital in town or who took me, I do remember it being so full of people they laid me on the floor in one of the corridors with countless others. They had brought in people from some of the surrounding towns that did not have hospitals. I was in pain, I had several deep cuts and numerous hard blows to my head and body, but no broken bones. A very dear lady named Doris Schultz sat with me and held my head and talked to me for I don’t know how long until my turn to see the Dr. finally came

     My sister Betty, living close to Fritch, Texas was notified of what had happened, she her husband Roy and small son Eugene came immediately. When they got to the hospital and was waitingto ask where we all were, she overheard two nurses talking about the people laying on the floor where I was, were not expected to live, so they were taking them last.

     When I did not die they finally cleaned my cuts stitched them up and put me on a cot on the floor of the clinic with the other less seriously injured. The next day one of my class mates saw me but did not recognize me because of all the black and blue bruises on my swollen face. The neighbors had indeed hurried over to our place and some how got the wall of Dads chest and got him to the hospital. They later found Mother under the same wall at his feet. Seems when the storm got really bad, according to Dad, they both jumped up from their chairs Moms last words were “Those kids are upstairs” they both ran to the stairwell she was in the lead, she was crushed by the wall, Dad, was thrown back and only his head and upper chest were left uncovered. LaNita received one injury. A long very sharp sliver of glass about one and a half inches long pierced her buttocks, leaving the smallest of holes. Glass worked its way out of that hole fifteen years later.

      Floyd received no injuries at this time, however later he received countless nail punctures in his feet while helping Dad. Mom and Doug were indeed dead. Moms neck had been broken and a tiny bruise on her upper lip was the only mark on her. Doug was found in the yard under a door, they said nearly every bone in his tiny body was broken. He was only four and a half years old. He and Mom were buried in the same casket, side by side. Years later some of the rescuers ask me how I had gotten across the bridge since they had to remove a lot of branches and stuff before they could proceed, my answer was “It must have gotten there after I crossed, I remembered it being clear.”

Submitted by Ramona Kolander Esphahanian

“The power had been turned off”

      Five-year-old Charles “Chuck” Stewart’s famIly lived at 502 11th His mother and 7-year-old sister Carolyn Stewart (Adams] boosted him out the basement window after the storm, but failed to follow him.

      “I thought the whole world had come to an end and the rest of the family didn’t join me thereafter, so there I was scared to death.... There were screams everywhere5 We could hear people who had been injured screaming; it was dark and the street was covered with debris, and obviously we couldn’t move the car....”

      The other four family members eventually joined him, “So there we were in our bedclothes, no shoes...and people screaming and fire and sirens and no lights... We started walking toward town, ...(toward the] railroad tracks, and I think we managed to do that with no shoes and no injuries except I think I had a small scratch on the foot. I remember the lines were down, but as I recall from reading later, the power had been turned off.”

      Erwin “EV” Walker was the man responsible for the power being off. While other employees took shelter as the storm approached the plant on north 9th, he stayed behind to throw the master switch, an action designed to make downed lines harmless and also lessening the chance of fires igniting from ruptured gas lines. Mr. Walker lived for a short time, buried in the rubble.

Submitted by: Plains Indian and Pioneer Museum

“When you’re six-years-old...sound asleep and wake up in a pasture, you remember”

     Sabra Marts (Rodgers] was 6 years old. On the night of the storm, she was in a little cabin south of the Oasis restaurant—west of the old TG&Y parking lot Sabra’s story about a bad dream from which she could not awaken is as follows:

      “When you’re six-years-old and sound asleep and wake up in a remember it. I was found between Woodward and Mooreland by a farmerlrancher in a pasture in a mud puddle where I had crawled to keep warm. When I was ‘dropped ‘in the pasture, I thought .1 was having a bad dream and ran screaming for my mother. When the lightning flashed, there was no one, no buildings, nothing around.

      “1 was terrified. I don’t know where I ran, how far, or how long, but exhausted, I just walked and cried until I waded across the puddle. Having no clothes on, except a pajama sleeve, I was freezing so I sat down in the warm water. It felt so good that I just slid on down until my shoulders were covered. I was unconscious when the man found me.

      “I do remember the storm hitting and my being slammed to the ground several times and as I told my mother (later] I saw lightning on the ground. She guessed I was still in Woodward at that time and I was seeing high line wires when I was slammed to the ground. I never stayed on the ground long."

Submitted by: Plains Indian and Pioneer Museum

“Our babies are getting lost and we don’t know who they are.”

     Fifteen-year-old Valerie Shearer [Kropf] walked to her home at Twenty-sixth and Santa Fe from Thirteenth and Main. “When I got to my home, there was nothing there. The foundation was gone and everything was gone3” Her mother and three of the children had climbed down into the hole dug in the back yard for a future storm cellar and they were safe.

      The family was taken to the hospital. “I had my baby sister [18-month-old Joyce] in my arms and I covered her with my spring coat. She had a severe head could see her little brain pulsating. They sat us down on the floor.... The doctors would come by and look at her and say, ‘We’re going to take her and get to her next’ and that went on and on until it was about 2:00 o’clock.

      “Then Dr. England came by and said, ‘Honey, we’re going to take you and your little sister to the City. You stay with her. Whatever you do, you stay with her. They’re going to tell you you can’t go, but you stomp your foot and tell them you ARE GOING! because our babies are getting lost and we don’t know who they are.”’ Sure enough, attendants put the baby sister into the ambulance and told Valerie that she couldn’t go along. She stomped her foot and declared that she was going and Dr. England came by and explained that she must go to identify the baby, so they both went to McBride Hospital in Oklahoma City.

Submitted by: Plains Indian and Pioneer Museum

“Do not permit the workers to report.”

      At the time of the 1947 tornado, telephone operators nationwide were on strike. Pickets had marched in front of the Woodward office. But immediately after the storm, Woodward operators reported to work.

      Justine Ruble [Brown], president of the local union, soon received a wire from the National Federation of Telephone Workers: “Do not permit workers to report. If they have done so, pull them off the job....”

      Miss Ruble and Maxine Gibson carefully worded their reply: “Girls refuse to stop. Will work as long as needed. Have you seen this place? Would be ashamed of union that would put up pickets in disaster like this.”

      Before long, Miss Ruble told the press that the women would be individually mailing in their resignations to the union. Their actions were applauded locally and across the state.

      Telephone operator Luella Raye, amid the rubble of her home, hams it up with her telephone that survived the storm. (Raye had taken shelter beneath the oak table.) Grace Nix, chief operator, and Maybelle Benjamin, also lost their homes in the storm.

Submitted by: Plains Indian and Pioneer Museum

Links to more Tornado information on this web site.

Tornado Intro Tornado Timeline Tornado Path Tornado Story
Tornado Heroes Tornado Stories Tornado Trivia After Tornado
Tornado Victims Tornado Victims Tornado Photos Tornado Remembered

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