This is the beginning of the path of walking across the path of broken glass. So many things in our past define who we are as people. Some of us choose to block things out as if they never happened, but the only way to ever truly move forward, is to face those ghosts. I was 10 years old with the F5 Tornado stuck Plainfield, Crest Hill, and my Subdivision, hitting nearly every house, except mine. For years continuing paranoia that I was not injured or hurt in those storms, but instead hurt by other humans threw vicious hate convinced me, that I was supposed to die then, and I dodged a bullet. I otherwise was intended to suffer the rest of my life because I didn’t die when I was supposed to. I am writing this while sitting in the Joliet Public Library reading a book called Winds of Fury the Will County Tornado August 28th 1990, this is after reading all the newspaper coverage of the same Tornado. I needed to see these peoples families and devastation one more time, to remind myself that I was lucky, not cursed. I s4urvived the tornado, and I survived Joliet. I’m finally getting out, I can taste it, feel it. Every cell of my body is so excited about this move and change that I can’t even begin to describe how happy I am becoming over this change.
It was a insanely hot Tuesday and for Joliet public grade schools, it was our first day of school. It was so hot and humid in the school that didn’t have air conditioning, I was ready to faint. We got out at noon, and it was my birthday. My mom picked me up from school holding a Mega Man game out to me as I ran to the car. I went home and played the video game while she finished making the food for my birthday party dinner which was supposed to be around 4:00PM that day. Instead, the sirens almost went on for a whole 8 second before they sounded like someone cut the power to them as they whined down to nothing. It got cold, very windy, the trees in my backyard were U shaped dipping over the fence into the neighbors yard. I grabbed my most prized possession, my Nintendo and dashed for the basement. This marked the first, of a tradition that happened for most of my life at this house anytime the sky got dark until we moved to a ranch with no basement. The destruction was seen even at my house 3 miles away from the path of the Tornado, as we were picking insulation out of my pool the next day, and pieces of siding was on our roof that didn’t match any houses in the neighborhood. My favorite was the pairs of shoes you saw all over the power lines in the vicinity of the tornado.
I am now in my grandparents house, the only house without damage, where I was supposed to be around 4:00PM. I have been terrified to live here for years, scared to unpack any of my things, housing most of the things I consider precious in bank vaults and climate controlled off site storage. Every house plan I’ve ever looked into to build a house includes building 2 sides of the house into a side of the hill so that I may be safe, and have lower utilities. Even now as I move to Chicago, I wanted a garden apartment because I’m so afraid of Tornados. I feel that the only way to truly blossom is to work in baby steps away from this fear.
I want to dedicate this post to Ryan R. Glaser who would have been 16 years old on September 27th 1990. He was walking delivering the evening edition of the Joliet Herald News, and none of his customers were willing to allow him into the house to take cover. Proof that the newspaper industry for as long as it has existed, has shit on everyone, except the shareholders.
The people who died in this tornado were students and teachers; young and old. They were quietly at home; they were hard at work. They only shared one common thread — they were innocent victims of one of nature’s cruelest works. Their lives ended in the storm that rolled in on Tuesday August 28th 1990, but they will live on in the memories of family, friends, and in the way we each live our lives since the winds have shown us how fragile life really is.
One thing is for sure, these pictures still choke me up, looking at, as someone in the library walked up and handed me a tissue. Maybe the people of Joliet aren’t as bad as I’ve always believed, and maybe monkeys might fly out of my ass.
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