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Twisters

February 24, 2015

Natural disasters and other shared traumatic events create their own mythologies. That was certainly true of the massive tornado that struck Waco, Texas, my hometown, in 1953, which I wrote about in an earlier story, “The Lord of Toads.”

Everyone who lived through it remembers exactly where they were and what they were doing when it struck. Then there were the stories, many documented and true, of miraculous escapes and harrowing rescues, and other accounts whispered from ear to ear, changing and evolving in each telling until various versions became urban legends. True or not, they became part of our collective memory.

We humans have an innate need to ascribe meaning and order to random events. People came up with all kinds of reasons why Waco was struck, why some people died, why others were spared, why some homes were targeted and others inexplicably skipped over.

In the next Sleeper Ave. story, “Tornado Tales,” I take a look at the stories people told after the twister hit.