Monday, November 14, 2005


(Run originally 5/11/04 on our old site)

Anita Hart Fuller

I was waiting on Judy Rice to come by and pick me up - I was spending the night with her that night. While waiting I was in the living room playing the piano, and the front door was open. I remember darkness, rain, and the wind so stong it almost seemed to pull the wallpaper off the wall in front of the piano. Remember wall paper was pasted on over a kind of cheesecloth so there was room behind the paper for the wind to get in somehow. Soon her dad and mother AND Judy came by, I got in and they told me what had happened. Mr. Rice drove toward Judsonia as far as he could, but was turned back by the police. We then went to her house on Market Street, just about a block from Hawkins Clinic Hospital, and stood outside the side door and watched as people were brought in, in cars and the backs of pick-up trucks.

The wife of a doctor on staff there, Dr. Davis, was a nurse but didn't practice. I have a vivid memory of her rushing in the hospital door, resplendent in her white uniform with a navy blue cape. (I'm sure the cape was lined in red satin). I was sooo impressed, I think that might have been when I decided on my future career. Because my mother was dietitian at Harding College, she opened the dining hall and began making sandwiches, coffee, etc. to feed the people and workers at the temporary headquarters in the Armory. I have absolutely no memory of what I did in the days following the tornado.... I THINK we on Arch Street had electricity from the get go, but some in town didn't...or did they? Mother was later named Chairman for Food Preparation on the Disaster Committee for whatever her title.

Mary Kathryn Van Patten James

It was a Friday afternoon and after school during the 8th grade when my Aunt, Lillian Van Patten, drove over to Searcy from Bald Knob and picked up Mira Ann Van Patten and me, so we could spend the weekend with them. We had just got into their rock house and put our suitcases in the guest bedroom when Uncle Clark came home from his hardware store on Main Street.

The sky looked funny, a grey yellowish green and it began to rain. The clouds became darker and Dale Van Patten stopped by on his way home from his store to tell us that a storm was coming! Mira and I were on our knees on the sofa looking out the front window at the wind and rain. I saw the telephone pole in the front begin to bend toward the North in the wind and saw debris flashing by. There was a loud roar and I was aware of my ears popping because of the pressure changing. Aunt Lil yelled for us to get away from the window and come to the hallway!

When the noise and wind and rain died down, we went back to the window and then outside. The house next door was missing its roof. I believe the Killoughs, Tommy, Larry and Peggy Killough, had once lived in that house. Power lines and debris lay everywhere. The telephone pole was at a 45 degree angle. The house we were in was spared. Dale ran two blocks up the street to see about his family. Their house was also spared.

I saw one woman with dark hair walking down the middle of the street in front of the house with a dazed look on her face. She was soaking wet, her clothing was torn in shreds and her white legs showed through the shreds of her skirt in the slight wind. It was then that I realized that people were hurt or killed in this storm. Uncle Clark walked through the neighborhood and came back with news of destruction and people being spared by getting into a closet or bathtub. He went down to his hardware store and got bread and meat and cheese to make sandwiches, and flashlights. Mira and I helped make sandwiches in the kitchen by the light of a kerosene lamp. Aunt Lil cleaned out her refrigerator and we used all that stuff for sandwiches, too.

It was dark when my parents arrived from Searcy. It took them several hours to drive through and around downed trees and power lines. They saw so much destruction along the way they were not sure what they would find at the house in Bald Knob. For some reason, they gave us a choice of staying in Bald Knob or returning to Searcy with them. Mira and I wanted to stay in Bald Knob. I guess we wanted to see what it looked like in the daylight. They let us stay and returned to Searcy without us.

Mira and I finally got into bed in the guest room. We heard sirens all through the night. I think the National Guard was called out to help look through homes. I remember Mother and Dad saying that they encountered National Guard along the highway at certain points. I don't remember exactly what Mira and I did all day Saturday. We did walk around the neighborhood and could not believe the destruction and debris that littered the streets and yards.

Mother and Dad did come back for us on Sunday. It was a long drive back to Searcy. I saw boards sticking into splintered trees and barrenness where familiar landmarks had been. We did not talk much on the way home.

And....yes, March 21st is Larry James's birthday. His mom had made lots of sandwiches, and Larry and Joe Coward, I think, were having their birthday party together at the Legion Hut in Searcy. Needless to say the party was cancelled, but the sandwiches were eaten by the volunteer workers who organized the injured and the dead at the Legion Hut. If you remember Beulah James and Wilma Coward, they were always cooking food and helping others.


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