Tara Michele Hanshaw-Lewis : Tornado Oral History

Title

Tara Michele Hanshaw-Lewis : Tornado Oral History

Narrative

Submitted: June 8, 2005
Tara Michele Hanshaw-Lewis
Wales, UK

My name is Tara Hanshaw (now Lewis) and I grew up in Niles, Ohio, and vividly remember the tornado of 1985.
I was 5 and was at a baseball game with my friend, Meredith Shiley, and her father, Andy Shiley, who was the coach, I believe. It was a beautiful day and Meredith and I had talked my mom into letting me go with them. Mom had been laying out in the back yard reading 'It' when I left. We spent most of our time wandering in the trees (I do not remember which baseball field it was, but it wasn't in Niles). Our team won the game and the coaches took us to the Dairy Queen. When we left, the sky took grey/green. There were two girls hiding under a table and we thought it was funny. Then, we were waiting in line for our ice cream and a man came over the loud speaker and told us to get under the tables. It started to hail really hard outside. I just stood there and a man pulled me under the table with Meredith, who was crying because she was scared about her cat. I remember telling her it was going to be alright and patting her on the arm (apparently my sense of fear wasn't completely active at age 5). I remember it being so loud we covered our ears and I remember as if it were yesterday seeing the tornado go past through the windows. We were really scared and wanted to go home to Niles to make sure everything was still there, but we couldn't get back into Niles because of the damage and went to stay at someone's house, I think it was one of the other parents'. They gave me ET pyjamas and I slept on a cot in the basement. They couldn't get through to our parents that night because there were no phones. I remember Andy ('Andy Panda') fiddling with a ham radio. I later found out that my dad, who had been at work at Easco Aluminum when it hit, got in his car and raced back home to make sure that we were alright. He couldn't get past the distruction at the Union Cemetary and the Convenience store- we lived at 1400 Gypsy Lane. He abandoned his car and ran all the way home to find that I wasn't there because mom Meredith and I talked her into letting me go with them to the game. She and my baby sister, Jessy (only 7 months old at the time) and my litte brother, Eric (nearly 3 years old) were in the basement; the back windows had all blown in, but otherwise we were fine.
I was taken back home the next day; our houses were still there, our cats were still there, and my parents were was sitting on the front steps; my mom was hysterically crying. They gave me such a hard hug when I got out of the car!
I cannot believe it has been 20 years. It is something that has always stuck with me, caused nightmares; I used to panic and hyperventilate when I heard trains. I think it is so lovely that everyone's experiences and memories are logged so that we always remember and find solace in one another.
I am sorry for the late entry, but I am living in Wales now with my husband and my mom only just rang me to let me know about this.

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