Author: Don Fraser


It was a beautiful day in the spring of 1972. I was in the barn building stalls for horses that I was expecting, my stall rental business was doing well, I had my portable radio on and was listening to music on a local station. The music sounded good as I worked. Then all of a sudden the music stopped, I put down my hammer and listened, after what seemed like an eternity. A man's voice came on. Ladies and gentlemen Peter S. Ogden school has collapsed and there were children in it. I froze for no longer than ten seconds waiting to hear more. The announcer went on to say that other building came down from a freak wind.

I could wait no longer. I ran up to the house, and briefly told my wife what had happened, I ran out the door and got in my pickup, only to discover it wouldnít start, I quickly ran back in the house and grabbed my wives car keyís. I went back out and started the old car. I jammed the gas peddle to the floor as I let the clutch out, the old car shook and spun itís wheels in the dirt driveway.

On my way to the school I met many encounters, Telephone poles were lying across the roads, Barns were laying flat, I had to drive into a field to keep going, when I could go no further in the car, I got out and ran. I had to get to that school.

When I got there the first thing I saw was my daughters class room, Her desk was under a pile of bricks and it was crushed, I threw bricks aside looking for my child. She wasnít there.

When I heard the sound of a chain saw in the basement. I started to go down and see what was happening, a fireman stopped me and said, there is no room for you down there sir. In this time I was hoping that one of my sons was alright. I went and looked at his class room, it too was a mess. Then I heard that there were some kidís at the old cement pipe factory. Naturally I ran two blocks to there. I went in screaming my children's names. A man told me to control myself you are disturbing the kidís. Then from another room my son stepped out. Without saying a word I embraced him so hard I could have broken a rib.

After he got his breath back he told me what had happened. When his class room caved in He started running, then he saw a loose horse running down the street,{Dad I knew that horse was frightened] He tried to catch but couldnít a nice lady saw him chasing the horse and took him to the cement pipe factory. {Thank you lady]

At the cement pipe factory I was told that some high school kidís saw the whole thing and rushed across the field to help their younger counterparts. My son and I ran for four blocks to the high school. We went into the gymnasium and everyone looked like they were in a daze.

I saw my oldest son and asked him if he had seen his little sister he said he had, and he brought her over from her school to the high school gym. She is up in the grand stands with her teacher, I scanned the stands, Then I saw her, my darling daughter was safe, our eyes met simotainiously, \I let go of the one brothers hand and ran up in the grandstand to reach her, we were so happy to see each other that we couldnít talk, we just hugged each other hard and cried

Then her younger brother came in the stands thought you were dead Scott she told him, then she handed him his jacket, I thought this was all I had left of you.

My poor wife had to sit home and wait for any news, she didnít know if her children were dead or alive There were no telephones working The pickup was out of order, but she was lucky, our youngest son went to kindergarten at Peter S. Ogden But he was home with the chicken pox that day, And she did not have to see the devastation that I saw.

It was later determined there was a tornado in Vancouver, Wa. There never has been another
one before or since. Six people were killed that day, and many more injured. That was the worst day of my life .


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