Friday, April 24, 2015


On U day in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge, I want to talk about a town in Kansas I passed through several times in the four years I lived there, but never stopped and investigated it.  Nor did I ever take any pictures.  But this town is part of America the Beautiful.

When I moved to Wichita, Kansas, after growing up in New York City (my husband was stationed there by the Air Force in the mid 1970's) I quickly learned about the power and terror of tornadoes.  I learned about tornado sirens.  I learned to recognize the signs of hail and possible severe winds in the color and look of a sky.

I learned this lesson well enough to warn co workers, back in New York State, moments before an F1 tornado touched down a couple of blocks from our office in 1991.  Fortunately, no one died in that small tornado.  But the tornadoes that hit the middle of our United States get much larger and powerful than an F1.  Sometimes they wipe out entire towns in a fury that is unimaginable except to people who have lived through like storms, or through wars.

Beauty isn't just in scenery or in artwork.  Beauty is within the people of a city, a town, a village. It is in their resiliency, the ability to pass through crisis and emerge stronger. 

I have no pictures of Udall, but I can offer you this video.  This man explains he survived a tornado in the small town of Udall, Kansas, on Memorial Day, 1955.  This tornado killed 89 out of the 610 residents, including one of his brothers.  It is rated an F5, and is considered one of the 25 most deadly tornadoes in United States history.

Why would I want to talk about Udall when my theme for this month is "America the Beautiful"?

Because Udall lived through their trauma, and came back better than ever.  They aren't the only town in Kansas to come back stronger from a tornado, either.  In fact, another small Kansas town, Greensburg (another town I was through a time or two) was hit by an F5 tornado and came back - green.

Perhaps, if green had been "in" in 1955, Udall would have gone "green", too.  And THAT would have been even more beautiful.

But, in my memory, those small Kansas towns built around large town squares survive in my memory - and, one day, I may be back.


  1. From a small town myself. I think they're the backbone of our nation :)

  2. That's a nice tribute to the resilience of the people and the landscape brutalized by one of Nature's strongest forces. You are absolutely right - someone who hasn't experienced it really can't imagine the destructive power of a tornado.

  3. I had no idea of Udall! Sounds like a strong place to withhold all that.

  4. It seems like one of the benefits of doing these various blog challenges is the things we learn along the way!

  5. I find the idea of tornadoes terrifying. Kudos to them for coming back.

  6. Such scary stuff. We've actually had a few very minor, benign tornadoes (or maybe "wind funnels") touch down near me - that is, in California. It's nothing like in Udall or other parts of the country.

  7. Living in a small village in the UK, I tend to find the resilience of the local folk is far higher than you tend to find in big cities. I think probably because of the history of having to eek out a living from the land

  8. I like your slant on the strength of survival after a tornado. I've never seen one. It must be scary. It brings the full force of nature to our door.

  9. Alana,
    There are so many towns like Udall in the Midwest. Last year, several little towns in Nebraska got flattened by tornadoes on the weekend of Mother's Day. It's always so amazing at the strength and resilience of the folks who get up from such a tragedy, dust themselves off, count their children, and choose gratitude over self-pity.
    If you wouldn't mind, I'll share a blog post I wrote about last year's tornadoes flattened a small town near us:


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