The first time the phone rang after it happened, we all jumped.
For hours, you couldn’t get a dial tone on our phone, a land line, the only kind of phone anyone had back then. All you could hear was static.
And then about midnight out of the blue, it rang. I jumped to pick up the mustard yellow phone mounted on our kitchen wall.
It was one of my friends who lived across town, calling to see if we were okay. The minute she heard my voice, I could hear the tears in hers.
She had been trying to get through since the tornado hit around six o’clock that evening.
That was the only time our phone rang for the next several weeks because the storm took out phone lines and electricity all over town. But at least we still had walls for phones to be mounted on. Many of my friends didn’t.
Other people tried to call to see if we were okay, but they couldn’t get through. And in those days, there was no such thing as a cell phone.
There was no Facebook. No Twitter.
You just had to wait to see if the people you loved were okay.
Or you got in your car and drove to find them.
Like some of my family from Oklahoma did.
They piled in their station wagon and drove as far in to town as they could, before the debris blocking the roads was so bad that the National Guard wouldn’t let them continue.
And then they got out and walked the rest of the way to our house.
We were just fine. Our house hadn’t been hit. But they didn’t know that.
So they came to see for themselves.
I won’t ever forget that.