On numerous occasions as I was growing up, my mother talked of having "seen" the tornado that ravaged the town of Gloster on April 6, 1935. I even went so far as to write a song based on her description but later I found out that the storm had struck well after dark that April day and so my mother could not have truly "seen" the storm. Rather what she saw was the lightning display and, at the storm's worst, the arcing electrical transformers as the poles were destroyed by the wind. At the time she lived at home with her parents and siblings near in age to her. Their home was on a small rural property SE of Gloster but on a hill which gave them a good view of the sky back to the NW. They lived close enough to Gloster to have heard the loud sounds that winds of tornado magnitude would generate.
Both the Sesquicentennial book (1959) and the WPA history give brief descriptions of the storm, with a picture included in the former. The statistics for the storm were:
· 9 deaths (or 8 according to another reference)
· 87 homes destroyed
· 69 homes damaged
· an unspecified count, stated as "most of," of the commercial buildings and other structures damaged or destroyed.
My mother's description and the referenced details above gave me the grist to mill a song about the event, which follows:
The Day the Wind Came
© 2006 Wayne Anderson
My mama she was 13 the day she saw the storm
As black as the heart of Hell, a cloud bringing harm
She was to the southeast, the safe side from the blow
Straight on to Gloster, the black cloud was to go.
It was the day the wind came
A twisting whirling wind
It rattled all the windows
Lifted roofs of tin
It tore apart the houses
Strewed them near and far
Across the town of Gloster
It left a gaping scar.
My mama said the noise was fierce, a roaring, growling sound
She feared they all would die that day when the storm came ‘round
But she and all her family were safe out on their farm
The shroud of deathly darkness to them caused no harm.
But in the town of Gloster the storm winds had their way
And took the lives of nine strong souls on that deadly day.
Near ten times that number of homes were rudely razed
And almost as many damaged among the awesome maze.
Want to hear what the song sounds like? Here's a rough, home-recorded version that sounds half-way decent. Click the link to open the file in your player; right-click and select "Save Target As" to save it to your hard drive for later. Note: Playing the song as streaming audio may not work and is definitely not recommended for anyone but users of a high-speed connection. The MP3 file is slightly over 6 meg in size.
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