The date was June 11, 1953, and I was 15 years old.
I was staying overnight at the home of Tom Boring at Isom, and the house was right beside the old Isom Grade School building, near where the rodeo arena is now. (Tom started the Missionary Baptist Church at Blackey.)
We got up that morning and hoed a while in their garden. Then we decided to go groundhog hunting. There was me, Bob and Andy Boring.
While old Spot was sniff- ing out groundhogs, we dug ginseng roots. When we heard him barking on a trail, we worked our way to him and dug out the groundhog. If there were young ones in the hole and they were big enough to eat, they were taken alive and fried later at home.
It had been cloudy that day, and raining once in a while. I heard an unfamiliar noise and looked around the mountainside. There was a very dark cloud with a funnel coming out of it, and it was coming around the mountain straight at us.
I yelled a warning and we ran to a nearby cliff and got about 30 feet back under it.
As it went by us, it sound- ed like we were sitting beside a locomotive. Large trees were being pulled out by the roots and dropped.
We were three scared boys. We decided we better go home.
We had to climb over and under the fallen trees, and it took us a long time to work our way down the mountainside. We had to stop within sight of the house because Bob had taken his pants off, tied the legs together and had them stuffed with young groundhogs.
We went and got him some more pants to put on. Nora, their mother, had been standing on the porch, looking and waiting for us.
We heard later that evening that the tornado had lifted up, then set down again on Sandlick. I remember seeing the house it hit there, scattered all over the place. Then it lifted again, and headed for Pike County.
That’s the only tornado I’ve been close to in my 75 years.