The 1964 Marshall County Tornado

On March 4, 1964, I was a sophomore at North Marshall High School and it was a pretty routine day except that one of my best friends, Cindy Goheen was celebrating her 16th birthday and I was going to spend the night at her house and help her celebrate.  What I didn’t know was that I would forever remember that day because a category 4 tornado hit the south end of Marshall County and killed three people.  This tornado also injured 24 people and caused between $50,000 and $500,000 in damages.

We were sitting in the cafeteria and it was storming outside and you could see the dark clouds toward the south.  As we sat there, several of us heard a piercing scream which we later learned was the tornado.

School was let out and we went to Cindy’s house.  When we got there, her mother told us what had happened.  This was on a Wednesday and we had planned to go to church but her mother decided we should stay home.  As I have said in an earlier post, you didn’t miss church unless you were at death’s door and my parents weren’t too happy when they found out that I had missed church.

My dad was preaching at Fairdealing Church of Christ at that time so on Sunday when we went to church, we were told of the devastation of the storm.  People told us stories of how close the tornado came to their houses.  There were boards in trees, buildings totally flattened and so many people left without homes.  I think there were a few miracles that day too.  One lady from church told us that she was feeding her baby in the kitchen when she saw the tornado heading her way.  She grabbed the baby and tried to get out of the kitchen; however, the door slammed and she couldn’t get out.   And, you know, the kitchen was the only room left standing after the tornado passed.  Her husband crawled under the corncrib because he couldn’t make it to the house.

After lunch on Sunday, we drove around the south end of Marshall County to see the damage first hand.  I tell ya, that was a scary sight. Where houses, barns, and even businesses once stood was nothing but rubble.  It was hard to believe that wind could be so strong as to just completely destroy everything in its path. But it did.

My mother was always afraid of storms; but after that, she was even more afraid.  I have to tell you a little funny about something my sister did to our mom.  One day it was storming like the devil and warnings were issued for our area.  And even though it was storming, Mom was busy cleaning house (her favorite thing to do).  She said to Cheryl, “if you hear anything besides wind, you tell me.”  She wanted to make sure we would have time to go to the basement if a tornado was coming our way.  In a little while, Cheryl said to her, “I hear something besides wind.”  Well, Mom went into a tee-total panic and asked her what she heard.  My sister said, “I hear rain.”  Luckily, she didn’t get a beating over that one.

See ya next Wednesday.