Being Traumatized in Kansas

As every good Kansas child knows tornadoes are not something to ignore. Stormphotonet’s pictures have inspired me to write about one of my Kansas bad weather experiences.

After she was widowed for the second time, my grandmother moved from Edmund, Oklahoma to Fredonia to be closer to our family. Now, my grandmother was a Home Economics teacher and quite a beauty for most of her life. Along with her beauty came a load of insecurity about her looks. She would never let herself be put in any situation where she would be seen without makeup and very high style clothing. Her grandchildren all called her Mawzie as my sister, the oldest of our generation, was unable to pronounce grandmother as a toddler, and somehow Mawzie became the family word for grandmother.

When she moved to Fredonia, she bought a house two doors down the street from my parents house. Unfortunately, it resided on Button Creek, and all of the houses on the creek were subject to flooding and being struck by lightening. When I was 6, the highlight of my week was to spend Friday night with my grandmother at her house.

This particular Friday night, we were asleep, but heard the tornado sirens start up. When those sirens started up you moved! It wasn’t raining, but I remember a terrific thunder storm. I got up dressed and was sitting in the living room waiting for Mawzie to finish getting ready, so that we could hurry down to my parents basement as the houses on the creek didn’t have basements. I was sitting in a chair directly across the room from the wall phone. All of the sudden, there was a horrible crack of thunder, and ball of fire flew out of the phone and rolled across the living room rug toward me.

A second later my mother burst through the front door wearing nothing but her nightgown, grabbed me by the arm and took off running. My feet didn’t touch the sidewalk the whole way home. To get the full importance of this move on my mother’s part you have to realize that she’s not a person to move or exercise. She’s spent her whole life avoiding any sort of physical exertion. She certainly wasn’t a person to run around town wearing nothing but a nightgown. Fifty years later I can still feel her grip on my arm as she dragged me down the street. No tornado that night, but that ball of fire still haunts scares me.

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