Country Facts and Folklore
By Andy Reddick

TORNADO April, 1967

This morning I found myself reading a book of poems written a number of years ago by one of Keosauqua’s former citizens, Orvey C. Buck. Well-known as an inexpensive lawyer, his office was behind Dr. McClurg’s dentist parlor in the wooden building across from the old stone post office, which is now Keosauqua’s museum.

I don’t remember how I came across the little $5.00 book printed by the Central Printing Company in Springfield, Missouri entitled "How It Was," nor do I remember reading it. What captures my interest now is the historical content, as Orvey attempted to portray in poem form many events that had transpired during his seventy-five years.

Hidden in this book is a vivid description of the storm in the spring of 1967 that played havoc in the community, claimed a life, and destroyed many homes and buildings. Although he was not home when the storm hit, his home suffered major damage. As he listened to the many tales of survivors, he tried to describe from an artist’s standpoint what it must have felt like to experience the vicious storm. His poem is entitled "Tornado April, 1967."

"It had been an unsatisfying day, unfinished work to do, the wife away, the pen like a foreign object in my hand. When I got up to get another beer I became aware of a stillness, a peaceful calmness out of phase with the queer green-gray atmosphere.

"When next I glanced, the western sky was black, the sun still shining was about to disappear behind a boiling mass. The lightning etched grotesque designs within the thunderheads, and my familiar world disappeared.

"I stared transfixed as movement in the clouds compressed into a cone, then long and thin like a twisting rope hanging to the ground, it’s whipping tail with a rumbling sound like a train, swept around me. Was this my day to die?

"No breath, windows sucking out, debris, sticks, stones, grass, dust and broken glass struck, cut, embedded in my skin, and then the room seemed suddenly to collapse like a can does sealed with hot air inside, and then it was night.

"At last a slow, low penetration of sound. No sight. My head like a balloon, almost unbearable pain in every part. A voice I thought I knew. A bandage partially raised. Light!"

From 91-year-old Orvey Buck’s book "How It Was" page 50. Permission to print this poem was granted by Mr. Buck’s daughter, Mary Jo Ingram.

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Contributed to the Van Buren Co. IAGenWeb Project by Andy Reddick