One of the worst sounds you can ever possibly hear….the tornado sirens going off.
I was only 19 years old and married, dirt poor, waitressing 2 jobs, and living in a trailer in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois.
It wasn’t in a trailer park, though. It was one of just 3 trailers and 2 cottages in a beautiful clearing in the woods surrounded by a forest and about every kind of fruit tree and bush you could imagine!
I loved it there and made many, many pies that year!
It was a very hot and humid summer day, nothing out of the ordinary, and just like any other lazy summer day….when things suddenly started to take a turn for the worse.
A storm blew up out of nowhere, and I was home all alone. Just me and my cat.
It was only about one o’clock in the afternoon and things went from a calm sunny summer day to pitch black as night!
I had the TV on catching the news and any Weather Bulletins when the power went out. The last I had caught on TV was that there was a Tornado Warning in our area.
A “Tornado Warning” means that a tornado has been spotted and is on the ground.
I was terrified! The winds picked up and started blowing so hard that it was almost deafening! I grabbed my cat and sat him on my lap, and got in the center of the living room. I held on to him for dear life. Literally.
I could feel the trailer rocking back and forth and debris hitting the roof, sides and windows. It was so dark, that you could not even see your hand in front of your face. I really thought I was going to die.
I was huddled with my siamese cat when all of a sudden I felt someone grab my shoulder from behind and shake me. It was my landlord. He was yelling and all I could here him saying was, “We have to go! NOW!!”
My cat sprang from my lap and I started to cry! I kept saying, “I have to get my cat!!”, but he kept pulling me down the hall saying there was no time.
We had to get out of there. Now.
We made it down the hall and to the door, and when he opened it, the screen door slammed open, broke from it’s hinges and was gone.
He had a very heavy, wool blanket and we got under that and ran to the neighbor’s to get her and her daughter. The 4 of us made it down the path and up to his house. I could feel branches hitting me and hail was pelting our heads and backs. I couldn’t hear a thing other than that horrible, deafening wind, things banging and breaking, and what sounded like a train coming right at us. I couldn’t see a thing. Just the muddy earth and rocks under my feet and all of the water seeping into my shoes.
We made it up to the landlord’s house and hurried down to the basement where another neighbor was waiting with candles lit and a couple of kerosine lanterns for light.
We all looked about the same. Shocked. White as ghosts. The little girl was crying, and I remember being about half out of it from sheer terror. Everything felt surreal.
To calm all our nerves and settle us down a bit, our landlord made us all a good stiff drink! Except the little girl. Her Dr. Pepper only had a cherry in it to bring her a smile. It was the best drink I’d ever had, and probably, hopefully, ever will.
This is my own version of that drink. I hope you enjoy it, too, and it isn’t needed for anything other than just a treat. With spring right around the corner, now is a good time to go over a plan of action if severe weather happens to hit your neighborhood, too.
Because tornadoes can hit anywhere. Anytime. And when you least expect it.
And don’t worry, “Charlie” was fine. When it was safe to go out and back home to that trailer we had rented for the summer, I found my beloved siamese cat in the bedroom closet, hiding way back behind the water heater, terrified, but safe and sound. The outside of the trailer didn’t fair so well, though. And we never did find the screen door! But we all made it out alive. All that mattered.
CHERRY VANILLA DR. PEPPER COCKTAIL with AMARETTO
2 oz. DiSorrono Amaretto Liqueur
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 Tbl. maraschino cherry juice
handful of ice
about 2/3 of a can of Dr. Pepper soda
lemon slice, optional garnish
1 maraschino cherry with stem, optional garnish
In large rock glass, pour a little of the soda. Add Amaretto, vanilla, and maraschino cherry juice.
Add a small handful of ice, and pour more soda into glass until only a 1/3 of a can left. Stir gently to mix.
Friday 21st of March 2014
I grew up in a small town just North of Chicago and clearly remember skies just going to dark in the blink of an eye...very scary!! many times we all were ushered into the basement to wait out a storm :( hated that!! I can empathize with you! and the need to a good drink after all that!!!!! Diane
Saturday 22nd of March 2014
That was the worst one ever! I've been through many, but never that close before and all by myself for awhile. I really thought I was going to die! I hate tornadoes! Not liking hurricanes any better, either, lol!