May 6….Tornado Day



I was in one of the worst tornado’s in my state’s history and I have never gotten over it.  Fridley, MN.  I posted this a year ago today and plan on reposting it every May 6.  

I tried really hard when my boys were small, not to show how scared I was as I didn’t want them to suffer the absolute fear I had.  I respect them and know first hand what they can do.  It was 44 years ago today and I was 7 years old.

There were 7 that night.  I won’t ever, for the rest of my life, forget that day.  My dad had taken a bunch of us kids to the Dairy Queen and we were sitting and eating our ice cream on one of the neighbors swing sets.  My dad came running to get us and I remember thinking how funny the sky looked.  It was a really weird light green and it was suddenly very still.  He took us home and we went downstairs.  After the first one went through my dad knew he would have to leave.  He was a volunteer fireman and he saw us safely to our neighbors and then went to help people who were trapped, and worse, dead.  One lady right on my street died.  She was the grandmother of one of my friends.  13 people died in them totally.  My parents and the neighbors tried putting on a brave front but I don’t know who they thought they were kidding, they were scared.  Maybe having to be in front of kids helped them stay calm.


I can remember after the last one hit.  It got eerily quiet.  The air was different too.  We went upstairs and it was the strangest thing.  Our neighbors curtains were just kind of waving in the little breeze that was left but they were on the outside of the house.  There was no glass in any of their windows.  Half my block was gone.  Can you imagine, there were no houses there anymore.  I remember everyone just meeting in the middle of the street and the grown men were crying. 

Our house only had minor damage.  I also remember the National Guard was there and it was very unnerving having them drive up and down our street in those jeeps.  We had to show ID to even get around.  My school was also blown down so I remember having to finish the year at the high school.  Take a look a few of these photo’s.







I’ve seen the movie Twister and I heard snickers that it was fakey.  That nothing could fly through the air like that and not be hurt but that’s not true.  Our neighbors were finding things that belonged to other people for months afterward that wasn’t hurt in the least.  Picnic tables, toys, lawn chairs….all kinds of things.

I know a lot about tornado’s because I’m so afraid and because I respect the damage they can do. 

So, please take care and watch the sky when storms are coming.  I still get scared.  Really scared and I hate it when my husband and son’s go outside to “watch” them move in.  I can’t seem to help it.

Stay safe.

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29 Responses to May 6….Tornado Day

  1. fibi says:

    Wow Joy..

    What an experience..

    My heart goes out to you..

  2. JavaQueen says:

    This is so scary. Look at that twisted mess of cars! I lived in Kansas for 6 years and had a few touch down in our county but never damaged from them (thank God) but I’m so sorry this happened to you and for the loss you suffered. I’m at a loss for words, storms like this scare the crap out of me Joy!

  3. megan says:

    Oh wow. I can honestly say that I’ve never been through a tornado, and I hope I never do. Makes me glad I’m on the east coast where tornados are a rarity.

    As an army brat, my dad has been through almost every natural disaster there is: hurricane, blizzard (the kind where the sky dumps three feet in just a few minutes), earthquake (he was in Alaska for the big one in ’63), and even volcano. He said tornados were some of the worst.

  4. pammy wammy says:

    I dont like them either.I have seen them in the sky far away,but I dont like to watch them.They have come close,but not like what I just saw,I ran to the basement too when the siren here goes off.It is freaky how the sky turns colors and its the calm before the storm that I dont like.

  5. mssc54 says:

    Tornados are so scary because they are so unpredictable.

    At least with hurricanes we can be nervous/scared for a week before they hit.

    We stayed in our home during Hurricane Hugo and it swayed, shook, vibrated. We stayed in an upstairs bedroom away from the big/huge pine trees. The next morning when we opened the bedroom door all we could see was blue sky. The bedroom we stayed in was the only room in the house (upstairs) that still had a ceiling or roof!

    We moved back in four months later after it was rebuilt.

    Stay safe indeed!

  6. javajunkee says:

    I was very interested in this post. I just took the skywarn class and am now an official “spotter”. It would be nice to think that we won’t be needed but living in the midwest that would be foolish thinking. I am fascinated with them. I admire and respect the force of weather.

    I may just do my own twister story later on my blog. I have a pretty good story to tell about the one our town had on June 1st 2007.

    • Joy says:

      Hey, go for it jj. We should all be aware of what these kind of storms can do. Mssc said it right when he said the bad thing about tornado’s is they are so unpredictable. They do have a very predictable pattern and normally follow most of them but NOT always. The most important thing is to be aware of them and know that there is a possibility.

      I can tell. I can just “feel” it in the air. This is something I’ve never really forgotten about nor let go. No matter where I am, it’s always in the back of my mind.

      • javajunkee says:

        I know to start watching the weather when the birds start acting all goofy. The morning we had that earthquake here in the midwest the birds were freaking out like an hour before it happened. I didn’t know what we were in for but was not surprised when I felt the tremors.

        I also remember the storm of 2007 and the following on on July 27th( I think) of last year…both times my birds were freakin’ goofy acting.

        the 27th of last year was the straight line winds we got. I think out where we live we got more damage with that than we did the tornado of 2007.

        I will be doing a post sometime tonight and linky dink back here. I know I will forget to do it on the anniversary of the date. I know that people here get all freaky when that date rolls around. Nobody was killed or even injured beyond scrapes and stuff here. But you know you never forget seeing something like that.

        I said I always wanted to in my lifetime see one. Now I can say I have and that’s good enough for me. They are predicting more tornadic activity for the midwest do to another El Nina this year. (or one of those crazy “el” things. ) That’s why they put out such a call for more spotters to take the classes this year.

        makes me want to get a ham radio and hunker down the big van for “tornado spotting”…but yeah that won’t happen. I will take my little van and my cell phone and that’s my spotting gear!

  7. nikki says:

    This will get me every time! It sends goosebumps up and down my body and brings a tear to my eye. I cannot even fathom how you feel, nor do I ever want to. I grew up for the most part in CA. so tornado’s weren’t even in the picture. I move here and think…WTF…did I get myself into here!!! They aren’t at all uncommon around here, but I thank my lucky stars and I’m knocking on wood right now…we haven’t been hit! We have been very lucky!!! Bailey knows that they scare me, I have a hard time hiding my fears. He’s not that scared though, he like to watch! I on the other hand drag him to the basement at the mere warning of one! Better safe than sorry is my logic on that!
    I’m sorry you had to go through that Joy. That those memories will be with you forever, but on the hindsight it has made you very aware of what they are capable of doing!

  8. Doraz says:

    Joy, I hope it will be smooth sailing from now on! Thanks for sharing your experience with us. A learning experience!

  9. starlaschat says:

    Thank you for sharing the story and the photos. It’s hard for me to imagine the trauma going through something like that. The only thing I can think of for me is Earthquakes. Ive been through 3… 7.2 . It still sneaks up on me when I’m in a big store some time I think If there was an earthquake where are the exits. Those pictures were amazing Joy. I can’t even imagine surviving something like that. It’s as if your world falls apart and you have to rebuild in literally from the ground up. I will remember to keep in mind to be keep safe. The color change to green that must have been sareal.

  10. Karen Joy says:

    Oh Joy,I never knew you all went through that,thats aweful!I too am absolutly terrified of Tornados.My hubby and i were just talking about Tornados and bad weather,I said i was so thankful to have moved into a house with a basement I can run to..finally,its been years!
    Actually your post from the other day about memorable birthday parties made me think of one I was at when I was a kid.We spent it in the lights..a bunch of terrified kids with Tornado outside.Thankfully we were ok.I know that erie green sky, sirens going off,not good!
    Lets all stay safe this season!

  11. Gary says:

    Oh wow! I have never been through a tornado and don’t ever want to be. I have come close a few times and that’s enough. It’s really amazing what they can do!! I’m glad that you and your family came out of them ok.

    Those are awesome photos that have me sitting here saying “wow” over and over again.

  12. Just a Mom says:

    I went through my first tornando when I was 5. I was outside playing in my front yard and I remember the green sky and how it felt like all of the air had just been sucked away. My mother grabbed me and we stayed in our bathroom in the tub for what seemed like hours. We were lucky and had no damage on our street, but one street over everything was gone. I have gone through about 4 other tornados since then. Two of those have been spinoffs from hurricanes.
    I have utter respect for nature but I am also one of those people who loves to go out and look and admire it as well.

  13. kweenmama says:

    I’ve never experienced a tornado, but they DO seem so scary. I can understand how you would still be very afraid of them. Thanks for this post. People do need to respect what tornados can do.

  14. javajunkee says:

    here is youtube video of our tornado June 1, 2007

    this was before it headed into town. It had just slammed into 2 smaller towns. I have pictures of it over the motel I was front manager of at the time.

    • Joy says:

      Thanks for taking the time to round all this info up. You know what, the birds are an excellent barometer. Somehow they know what’s coming way before we do. With all the feeders I have, I’ve learned a lot by their behavior. Thanks jj.

  15. Adell says:

    Joy, thank you for reminding us to take tornado warnings seriously. I remember when you went through that and your mom said it was sounded like a roaring train going through. I recall that day so well…I kept trying to get a hold of your parents on the phone and of course the phones were all out. It was so scary and then I was so relieved and thankful that you were all okay. We got married in Sept of that year and moved into a house in Fridley that apparently had the front window blown out during that tornado. I was constantly finding glass in the flower beds when working in them. I have seen many tornado funnels while living in Minnesota. We don’t get tornados or hurricanes here in the desert, for which I am thankful. We rejoice when we get a nice thunderstorm and rain.
    Your pictures brought back memories.

  16. Adell says:

    BTW I was interested in javajunkee comments and video as I have a girl friend from Muscatine. She lives in Minneapolis now.

    • javajunkee says:

      was she in town that year? Our local paper got a lot of response from people who used to live here who had heard about it. Checking on their old hometown.
      2 smaller towns suffered worse damage than our town but we still had our share. One old cemetary had great big old trees that have been there forever just yanked up like they were nothing but little branches.
      the neighborhood I grew up in suffered the most damage out of the town. I did drive by my old house after it happened and except for some tree limbs down it was ok.

      we are talking about this today and we’ve had 3 small storms roll through here in the last hour. Nothing big but just getting us prepared I guess.

  17. Sue says:

    As I sit here reading this, the sky is turning darker and darker! No warning so I’ll pretend I’m not scared! I hate tornadoes. I have never seen one (kinda want to, but far away!) but have seen wall clouds, lots of rotation and that funny color in the sky. I can’t imagine being through something like that. Glad you posted this story again and I think it’s a good idea to do it annually.

  18. Joy says:

    We’ve had some thunderboomers roll through here the last hour too. Sue called to see if there were any warnings out but I don’t even have the TV on. It’s not a “storm” like a tornado storm. I love plain thunderstorms.

  19. joanharvest says:

    We don’t get tornadoes here and I am very happy about that. We do get hurricanes but we haven’t had a really bad one that affected me too much other than losing electricity for a week.

    I have reoccurring nightmares about tornadoes and I can never find my kids in these dreams. I can only imagine what you must have gone through.

    I hope you never see a night like that again.

  20. LMW says:

    Joy, here I am back again this year also. You may be interested in a book by Allen Taylor called “The Night The Sirens Blew”, published last year by Tornado Press. It’s a compilation of stories written by people who lived through that night, many you may even recognize. I got my copy at the Fridley Historical Society, but I’m sure it can be ordered online or at any bookstore. I talked to the author and he seemed interested in adding additional stories to a second edition, so maybe there would be room for your memories as well as mine. Also, don’t know if you’ve seen this, but there are a lot of great pics here. My house is smack dab in the middle of picture 109, 5 houses down from Redeemer Lutheran Church on the south side of Mississippi Street which runs right through the middle of the pic.

    Go get the book. It’s really fascinating.

  21. LMW says:

    I’m sorry, had a brain fart, it’s United Methodist, not Redeemer Lutheran, see what happens when you factor AGE into the equation.

  22. Steve says:

    it is interesting to see the photos you posted on that 1965 breakout. My mother lived just outside Excelsior at the time and watched the tonados from the roof of her garage (much to the horror of my grandmother). I had no idea that they were f4 tornadoes. Thank you for posting the photos and reminder for us all. I have been through a few tornadoes myself now that i am 31. The fascinate me greatly but I too have a great respect for their force and damage. Stay safe in tornadoes and don’t be stupid! THANKS!

    • Joy says:

      Thanks so much for stopping by Steve. My husband lived in Minnetonka during this and he said it was really bad there too. I think they gain fuel over Lake Mtka and go full force to the Mississippi River.

  23. Sally says:

    I lived through this one in New Hope. I was 8 years old then, and still freak out whenever there’s a tornado watch/warning. I don’t think you ever forget once you experience something that big. My older sister (11) and I were home alone at the time — and while we knew to go to the basement with the radio, etc., we were still scared to death! Our neighborhood didn’t take a direct hit, but we still watched big trees come down in our backyard (straight line winds?) and had no power for at least 3-4 days afterwards, although it could have been longer. I remember my parents cooking meals on the Coleman camp stove in the garage for days afterwards. Used to think the storm happened after school was done for the year, but now I realize that our school was probably closed because of the power outage.

  24. Robert Corbett says:

    I was 4 1/2 years old and lived in fridley.That night was the first time I can remeber praying.And fear,fear because my parents showed fear.

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