The date was March 19, 1963. We lived in an apartment above my grandparents' garage at 601 Hopkins Street. My parents had gone out of town that day and my grandmother, Dimple Speck, was left to babysit us kids; Mike (4), Randy (me, age 3), Darilyn (2) and Ronnie (4 months). As a storm intensified outside, my grandmother looked out a window just in time to see the tornado that was fastly approaching. With only seconds to spare, she quickly gathered all of us together underneath the kitchen table and then, realizing she could not physically protect all of us at the same time, she told Mike and I to run to our parents' bedroom and get underneath the bed. We were overcome with so much fear that, no sooner had we got there, we decide to run back to the kitchen table.
By that time, the roof was already beginning to be pulled away from the building. My grandmother would later recall the haunting sound of hundreds of nails being ripped out of the wood. I cannot imagine how horrifying it must have been for her to see us running back to her at that moment. She was already holding our sister in one arm and our baby brother in the other. There was no way she could have physically handled two more kids, much less try to hold the table down.
My grandmother was a very spiritual woman. You could always find her sitting at the table with her bible either opened in front of her or laying beside her. There is no doubt that she did an awful lot of praying between the time she saw the tornado through the window and the sound of the roof coming apart. Instead of it crashing down on top of us, the tornado sucked the roof and most everything inside the apartment, outward. In the quiescence that followed, one thing that remained was that kitchen table, and all who were underneath it. God had spared my family, just like He spared Rob and Debbie and their family.
till the thunder sounds no more
till the clouds roll forever from the sky
hold me fast let me stand
in the hollow of thy hand
keep me safe till the storm passes by"
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