Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Bette, I Have a Feeling We're Not in Florida Anymore

Tinley Park, August 23, 1956

"Blattttt... Bloooot...Blatttt...  "

Watching TV at my sister's house in Tinley Park and I am startled awake by what sounds like a flatulent elephant. It's a severe weather alert. We didn't have too many of those in Florida because if it wasn't a hurricane, it wasn't really severe. Oh sure, we had tornadoes, but Florida tornadoes are wimpy things. They might flip a semi truck or toss a shed across the lawn, but I don't ever remember one actually lifting the roof off a house. Not even a "mobile home" roof. The scary sounding weather warning on the television reminded me of my mom. Mom was, is terrified of tornadoes. I don't blame her, we experienced at least two tornadoes tearing through Tinley over the years. The first one hit while I was outside in the park with my brother. I was six years old and I watched as the giant funnel cloud tore through town just blocks from where we were playing, while my brother and his friends continued playing ball, oblivious to the carnage taking place. The second one was when I was in high school. It hit just as we were going out to board the busses. So exciting.

Back at home, All my mom had to hear was the word tornado on the radio and she would round up all the younger kids, jam them into the crawl space under the stairs, and leave them there for hours. Now that I think about it, Mom may have been buying herself a bit of relief from the horde. Before we moved to the "new house" Mom would order us down into the basement, which I hated because we couldn't see all the excitement happening out in the yard. Lawn chairs blowing around, trees creaking, lightning and thunder. I always loved Midwest storms. They come quickly, and leave just as fast. Unlike Florida where a hurricane can go on for hours and hours, with actual trees slamming down onto the roof and everything that isn't tied down blasting across the landscape. Hurricanes truly scared the living shit out of me. Tornadoes, not so much. They are like going to a casino. I have just as much chance of being hit by one as I do winning the big jackpot on a slot machine.

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