Scared, but spared, by the tornado

Dorothy Head Powell

My grandfather, John William (Billy) Head retired as assistant superintendent of Cameron Park in 1957, and in 1953, my family lived next door to his house at 2224 North 4th Street, near the entrance to Cameron Park.

My daddy, Ralston Head, was boss carpenter for W.B. Lenamon Construction Co.

Due to the bad weather expected that day, he had come in from work early. I was 6 and remember walking down to the corner of North 4th and Herring with my mother, Marie Head, to look down Fourth Street to see if we could see Daddy coming.

Ralston had gone downtown to get his brother, my Uncle Odie Head, who had a garage at 2nd and Washington.

Weather conditions that day were terrifying. The sky was filled with low-hanging, dark green clouds. The air was so heavy you could scarcely breathe. I remember how scared I was. So scared that hair stood up on the back of my neck.

My mother and I had just gotten in the door of our house at 2220 North 4th Street when the storm hit. A few minutes later, Daddy and Uncle Odie drove down the alley and into the driveway at the back of our house, safe and sound.

Later, all the Head men went downtown to see if they could be of help. Daddy said the devastation reminded him of the destruction he had seen in World War II.

The 1953 Waco tornado was one of those events — like the assasination of John F. Kennedy — wherein people will always remember exactly where they were and what they were doing when it occurred.

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