The Oak Lawn Tornado

When I took this picture of Paw Paw, Michigan in a recent rainstorm, I knew it reminded me of something. Yes, the Oak Lawn Tornado of April 21, 1967. I am a survivor, and I will always remember that day.

(Oak Lawn, Illinois) I was washing cars after school for Jack Thompson Oldsmobile on 95th Street on the afternoon of Friday, April 21, 1967 when my boss said, “You’d better head for home.” We had absolutely no business, and we had been looking out the back door at the greenest sky either of us had ever, ever seen.  Okay.  So I hopped in my parents’ big red Ford wagon and had no sooner turned east on 95th Street when life as I knew it stopped.  Came to a complete halt.  That big old hunk of Detroit steel was suddenly levitating, and though I had cranked all the windows tightly closed, hail was driving through the seams and pelting me in the face. What the?!?  Then I looked to my left and saw it—the Oak Lawn Tornado raging its destructive path on a northeasterly heading along Southwest Highway.  Forget about Wizard of Oz, this was the real thing, and it had just exacted a frightening death toll not at all far from where I was parked in my levitating station wagon.  I thought I was done for.  I was not going to live to be 17 on May 7 after all. Sweet 16 and out!  So be it.  But then, as all bad things do, it passed, eventually making its way out into Lake Michigan off the Museum of Science and Industry where I had witnessed the arrival of the U-505 some years before.  When all was finally clear, I thanked the Lord for my life and motored gingerly home to nearby Beverly where I told my family that I had just survived a tornado and that we should pray for those who had not.

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About charleymckelvy

Charles McKelvy lives and writes in southwest Michigan with his wife and fellow writer, Natalie McKelvy. They established the Dunery Press in 1988 in order to publish their own fiction. They continue to do so to this day. Charles McKelvy is an Eagle Scout.
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One Response to The Oak Lawn Tornado

  1. I think that big old car saved your life

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