Hearing the storm warning siren go off early this morning reminded me of the cyclones of my childhood. Of course, our only storm warnings were thunder, lightening and angry looking black clouds.

We didn’t have a “storm house” but our neighbor across the road did so when the skies looked dangerous, off to the neighbors our family would go. I was so scared of creeping into this hole dug in the ground with lizards and water dripping through the dirt ceiling that I had just as soon to have waited out the storm sitting on the front porch at home!
Crude storm houses were created by digging a deep hole in the ground, laying logs across it and covering the whole thing with a large mound of dirt leaving a hole on the side for a hinged door to be closed after all had crawled in. I think our neighbors storm house had benches on each side.
Of course, these crude storm houses leaked water through the dirt roof so you tried to sit somewhere the water didn’t drip on you as you tried to dodge one or more lizards crawling on the dirt walls.
Some of the men would take turns as doormen and keep the rest of us informed as to where the storm was now. Occasionally they would lift the heavy door and check the clouds to see if it was safe yet to come out of our hole.
I remember once a terrible storm was coming and it must have been before the neighbors built their storm house and the closest storm house was at Mr. Houston’s, around a curve, across Pole Branch and around another curve then a ways. I remember we walked to Mr. Houston’s, at least a quarter mile away, with thunder and lightening all around us. My dad was carrying my baby sister on his shoulder and my mother was leading me and my young little brother. The Houstons weren’t home but we made use of his storm house anyway. A kerosene lantern usually provided light in a storm house but since no one was home we went into the dark storm house and out-waited the storm.
I remember there wasn’t as much excitement on the way back home as there had been in our hurried half-walk, half-run down that country road to the storm house a quarter of a mile away with lightening striking all around us.
Today we just get in a closet or the best shielded bathroom and wait till the TV or radio says it’s okay to proceed as usual.
We’ve come a long way.

Dunham's Sports

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