Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life
By Jeff Baker
One of the first things you saw coming into the east side of town was a handmade sign that said “What Twister?” The sign was tacked on a branch of one of the broken trees, like the one Kenny Donaldson was sitting under, practicing that song from the Monty Python movie that he’d been practicing all week in the dorm. This was spring of my Junior year at Millington College, 1981. The twister had hit at about six-thirty in the morning. Fortunately some of us were up already for breakfast before a few early classes and heard the tornado siren and the warnings on the radio. A lot of the commuter students and faculty weren’t there yet but those who were rushed to the dorm and banged on doors getting everybody up and ushering us into the basement under the cafeteria as the sky turned dark and the wind started to blow. The lights went out and somebody screamed as we sat and listened to what sounded like a freight train and a lot of crashing outside. “I got a radio,” some kid said. (This was long before everybody had mobile phones that could stream T.V, radio and movies.) So we listened to the weather bulletins in the dark.
The whole thing was over by about seven, and we opened the basement door and cautiously crept upstairs and outside. That was when we saw the mess; the torn up trees, the cars that had been tossed around and the damaged buildings. It looked like the tornado had smacked through the eastern side of campus and danced through the parking lot and then had probably lifted. We could see blue sky overhead and the dark clouds were receding, heading west. There wasn’t any damage to the town which was about three blocks away. No damage at all.
And that was the crazy thing; Garfield Hall, the one with the old clock tower and the date “1889” was still standing, the building that everybody said shook when the wind blew. The brand-new Science building made of reinforced concrete—gone!
But, like I said, there was enough warning that everyone took shelter, and nobody was hurt except for Greggy Subvoda who tripped and fell down the basement stairs and broke his arm.
Anyway, we considered ourselves lucky that the tornado didn’t hit the rest of town, and we went ahead with the College Talent show, Kenny doing the Python song and all, just we held it outside the Auditorium since the power wasn’t back on yet and held it at five in the afternoon while it was still light out.
But I still don’t want to hear that damn song ever again!