OUR day that lives in infamy: share your memories

State Journal looking for your tornado stories

By Phil Case, Published:

As Dec. 7, 1941, is a day that lives in infamy in the collective consciousness of this country — April 3, 1974 is Frankfort and Franklin County’s unique day that lives in infamy.

In 1941, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, an act that vaulted the United States headlong into World War II.

In 1974, it wasn’t bombs that came from the sky but rather mighty winds roaring from the southwest that wreaked havoc on our community, resulting in the loss of life, property, and in many ways our collective innocence that had falsely wrapped us in the notion tornadoes were for the flat Midwest — not a sleepy little river town.

April 3, 2014, will mark 40 years since the winds laid us low just as the sun prepared to set on that unseasonable day when the temperature had soared into the 80s. For those of us who lived here then, memories of the day are likely as vivid in our minds as if it happened yesterday.

The State Journal will 

publish a special section Sunday, March 31, to commemorate the great tornadoes and we want you to be part of it.

Where were you on that day? Were you in the storm’s path, perhaps taking shelter in a basement or under something? Did it destroy or damage your home? Did you join volunteers to help clean up and rebuild? After, did you wake up in fear for months, maybe years, every time the wind started to blow?

How to submit

In 200 words or less, share your recollections. Email them to me (pcase@state-journal.com) or Katheran Wasson (kwasson@state-journal.com). Or if you prefer, write out your memories legibly, place them in an envelope, stamp it and drop it in the mailbox addressed to: Tornado Memories, The State Journal, 1216 Wilkinson Blvd. And of course if you’re down this way you can just drop them by the newspaper.

And, if you want to come by and talk, give me a call and I’ll be glad to chat with you and we will remember together, I’ll even help you get your memories down if you want. Just call the newspaper at 502-227-4556 to make sure I’m here and available.

The deadline is rapidly approaching so please get your memories to us by March 4.

A decade ago, when we celebrated the 30th anniversary of the tornado — and “celebrated” is a tough word to use to describe such a devastating event — literally hundreds of you shared remembrances. Your recollections were poignant, gut wrenching, painful and some even humorous. Another decade separates us from that day, yet I’d dare say for all who were here then the memories remain vivid.

But, like Pearl Harbor, as time rolls inexorably on and those who lived through that day age, the memories will only live in what we tell those who came after us — and will listen. Or what we write down.

We very much want you to be a part of this special section. It will be one you can save and pass on, perhaps to those yet unborn just as we read about Pearl Harbor as the numbers of those who were there on that day dwindle rapidly.

We’re looking at hundreds of black and white photos from that day and the ones that followed, scanning newspaper articles written then. Our reporters, most of who weren’t even born, are interviewing those who were at, shall we say, “Ground Zero” that day, taking a direct hit.

We’ll have “how we covered it” stories from now retired City Editor Ron Herron and Mark Marraccini, a part-time photographer at the newspaper then.

Share your memories of OUR day that will live in infamy.

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