GRIFFIN—It’s been a busy month and an extremely busy third week of March as my daughter and I attended several signings this week…which was, coincidentally, Severe Weather Preparedness Week in Indiana.
And there was no more fitting venue for the 87th anniversary of the occurrence of one of America’s greatest disasters, the Tri-State Tornado, than Griffin, the little Posey County, Indiana town that was literally blown to bits when the tornado struck the third state on that terrible day.
In Griffin, there’s an entirely different attitude toward the disaster than in any other location. While it was indeed a tragedy on that day, with 60 percent of the town’s population dead or injured (25 dead; 202 injured) and what was considered 100 percent destruction (every home or building in town was either damaged or destroyed), the people of Griffin made a quick recovery and pulled their town—and themselves—back together and seemed to face the tornado destruction head-on. They rallied and overcame fears, for the most part, and in subsequent years even poked fun at the tornado by adopting it as “their own,” calling their school ball team the “Griffin Tornados” (whereas before, they had been the Griffin Tigers) and their junior varsity team the “Whirlwinds.” They even had tornado day parades, according to residents present at the anniversary commemoration.
Our event was held at the Griffin Depot Diner, a very busy restaurant with a very tasty menu and the best staff in southwestern Indiana. More than 30 people came to hear the presentation, which outlined the tornado from the moment it dropped to the ground in Reynolds County, Missouri at 1:01 p.m. on Wednesday, March 18, 1925, until it finally dissipated at about 4:18 in an unplanted cornfield outside Petersburg, Indiana in Pike County. The audience heard how new data, discovered by a team spearheaded by Dr. Robert A. Maddox and which included Dr. Charles Doswell, who was interviewed in the book, may indicate that the tornado actually have touched down 15 miles further southwest than originally believed. The audience even got to discuss the anecdotal tale of the final chapter of the book, regard what was alleged to have happened in Sandborn, Missouri, a few hours after the storm was over.
In fact, we were able to speak with some fine folks who have been in touch with people in Sandborn, attempting to find out just where the location of the Neikirk farm is…and if we are able, we’re going to go there and photograph/film it. It may appear completely different now than it did in 1925, but the historic significance of the place is considerable…and, if we ever are able to learn more about the allegorical story, it may come in handy!
And, if you don’t know what I’m referring to, I won’t spoil the surprise…you just have to get yourself a book and read it. Be prepared for that blow to the solar plexus!!
It’s my understanding that the book is now on the shelves in Barnes & Noble in Evansville; if it’s not, first of all, be sure you tell them that you want to see it!! Otherwise, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or, if you’re in Posey County, get in touch with Mrs. Donna Nash at North Posey Elementary, as she’s taking orders for me, and I’m sending regular deliveries to her as the orders come in.
Upcoming events in Indiana include a presentation and signing at the Princeton Public Library TOMORROW, March 26 from 6 to 8 p.m., and on May 12 from 10 to 1 p.m. I’ll be at the Working Men’s Institute, New Harmony’s beautiful library, for a signing and presentation.