1968 Freeburg, IL Tornado (page 3)
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These memories were written probably within the past five years, but recently transcribed; 8/10/2020. Marcia and Edward Mobley lived for almost 40 years at 311 South Richland in Freeburg which was in the path of the tornado. The house sat between the American Legion building and the grain Mill to the west and the High School to the east.
May 15, 1968 had been very hot and very windy. Ed had just returned home from an AG teachers meeting along with Petrowiches from New Athens. They visited for a while and when they left it must have been late as I was trying to hurry Mark and Bruce to bed. (their bedroom was upstairs) They said they didn't want to be in bed since it was to storm. I assured them I would come and get them if it stormed! After I had them settled in bed I went down to basement rec room to watch tv but do not remember hearing about any storm warnings. I found out later there had been a warning but they didn't keep talking about it like they do now. I hadn't been in the basement very long until we heard all this noise and electric went out so was completely black. Ed told me to stay put and he raced upstairs and saw an outside tree bent over so hurried on up to their bedroom and just missed getting hit by the propped up door on the landing that had blown down. He got the boys down to basement with a flashlight and then he went outside to see what had happened. I remember hearing Thomases - our neighbor to the east - saying that all were ok at their house. At one point Ed came back in and said most of Freeburg was gone. He was out and about for a long time and came back often to report. At one time he brought Don Elkins with him. When we finally tried to sleep we stayed in the basement. Had no electric or phone.
The next morning Ed went to a pay phone down by the main road (State St.) and called his parents who had been trying to call us and thought we were just out running around since we didn't answer phone. At some point he had to call Granny in Belleville and she must have called Mother but don't remember that story. We were outside trying to clean up the debris and sightseers were already there walking by. We had roof damage and broken storm windows. A large tree was down right where Petrowiches car had been. Our garage was blown away and the boat which was inside was perfect. No pieces of garage were found. Our travel trailer parked in the lot had a big slab of roofing from the mill in the side. I could salvage some of the personal items in the trailer. Nothing south of us was damaged but several blocks north were. The American Legion had roof damage as well as Renner funeral home along with the Methodist church. The High School was damaged from the main building north. The Military and Peabody Coal Co. came to help with debris and patrols but Ed and another teacher did some night duty watching the school.
On Friday (May 17th) somehow we knew the teachers were to report to the school [don't know where the boys went]. We didn't stay long but I was allowed to go up to the 3rd floor library to salvage what I could. It was also Bruce's birthday so went ahead with the planned birthday party with David Mitchell and Vonderheides. So we must have had electric and phone by then.
Sunday (May 19th) I don't really remember church but we may have met in the educational part which had damage but not as much as the church. The educational part had a lot of the roof tar all over the floor and walls.
When school began - don't remember how many days - we did have final exams in the main gym. I remember sitting on bleachers with my class and giving the exam. Grade school went back to regular days and once Mark was terribly upset that he had to go to school when the rest of us were going shopping - only going to dime store in Belleville. I don't remember graduation for that year.
I don't remember much about the school repairs or plans but the fall classes were all over town. I had helped organize the library which was to be in the basement of St. Paul's church. I worked for several days doing that but I was paid. During that summer we had built the new garage and had all repairs done to our house and also bought a new 19ft trailer. Also have a memory of the boys having a small pool out by the garage for entertainment.
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Updated: 08/30/20 Comments? Cardsfan@ford-mobley.com