This week’s guest post is by my friend Patti, who is one of the most creative people I know. She’s a thinker, a reader, a writer, and an incredible maker of crafty things. I am always impressed. Here she recollects an experience from her childhood in small-town Kentucky, and considering that the tornado siren is wailing as I post this, it’s certainly an appropriate thought for today!
Ask any “long-timers” in my small town what they were doing the afternoon of April 3, 1974, and the answer will be the same.
At 5:40 in the evening, a band of F5 tornadoes moved through our county with 260 mile per hour winds and numerous touch downs. It was the second worst storm of the century. The tornadoes left a bizarre path. They would take out a grove of trees while leaving a patch of tulips standing tall. They left one community devastated and the next battered but standing. Our little village escaped the worst while our neighbors down the road lost nearly everything. The elementary school, the Baptist Church, the majority of homes–gone.
As soon as the wind died down, everyone mobilized. Neighbors knocked on doors to check on one another. Loose livestock was rounded up. Debris was moved from the road by hand to make way for emergency vehicles. Those who had electricity fed and sheltered those without. We emptied our closets and our pantries. What were a few shoes, blankets, and peach preserves among neighbors? We shared our elementary school–desks, books, teachers. We shared our church–organ, pulpit and pew. Folks gave what was needed without being asked. It was not a burden to give and it was not a burden to receive.
I was a child at the time, and what affected me most was not the devastation but the recovery. Not the looking back but the looking ahead. Not the fear but the hope. The buildings, barns, and fences had been ripped apart but one thing remained intact: Community. Just about the most pure and blessed example I have ever seen. I am proud to call this place home.