Kawliga, that pore ol’ woodenhead

Tornadoes were not an issue for me, apparently, when we lived on Saundralane Drive. My experience at Dahlia Drive was quite different. We moved there in 1965. Most of my childhood memories stem from this house, where I first discovered comic books, saw giant dinosaurs at far-away Haysland Square (now minutes away from where I went to high school), played kickball and bullied my friends into playing superheroes and Greek mythology characters.

We lived in a split level house on a decent sized lot, at the entrance to Dahlia Court, or “the circle,” as we called it. The lower level of the house was underground, so it made a fine place to retreat when a tornado warning was issued. I believe I have determined that the night we spent in the basement was either November or December of 1967. On Nov. 24, Dec. 18 and Dec. 21, tornadoes were sighted in Madison County. I'm inclined to think this was the Dec. 21 tornado, as it touched down at 7:30 p.m., but it could've been Dec. 18. That one hit at 3:25 a.m., so we could've had watches and nothing happened until early morning. Not sure.

Tornado warnings were much vaguer back then, and if one was announced, you had no way to know if it was at your backdoor or across the county. I remember that Dad dragged a mattress down to the basement (which technically wasn't a basement, but more like a family room), and we sat on it and listened to the radio while the storms raged above us. “Radio” in our house when Dad lived with us meant WBHP, the country music station “on the sunny shores of Pinhook Creek,” where Vic Rumore was the morning DJ. (Apparently it's now a talk/news format station. According to Wikipedia, it was the first AM station in Huntsville.) One of the songs I distinctly remember hearing was “Kawliga.” At the time, I think the song spooked me a little, either that or there was another song that did that I've been unable to recall. We weathered the storm and didn't have any damage, but it was more of a big adventure for Rick and me.

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