Sunday, March 16, 2008

The day we had to "duck" twice

On this day 66 years ago Baldwyn was struck not once, but twice by tornadoes during a 35-minute period. March 16, 1942 was a Monday, and the storms came in the late afternoon between 4 and 5 PM as I have read on the back of a photo.

A widespread outbreak of tornadoes had occurred across Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, and Indiana. As many as 25 tornadoes of F2 intensity or greater were recorded. Seventy-five fatalities occurred in Mississippi.

The two tornadoes that hit the town (one category F4 and the other F3) were only 35 minutes apart. Not expecting anything such as that, the residents were caught off-guard. After the first strike, people went hunting for their family that had not been with them and were caught in cars and away from shelter when the second twister struck.

The photos above are:
Top: the Christian Church damage.
Left Top - Looking West on Thomas Street from then-US45 (now Fourth Street).
Left Center - Brownie Coggins' Service Station on then-US45.
Left lower - The school the next day - At the center of the photo is the boiler room and part of the chimney (looking NW).

Herb Spivey told me of his extraordinary experience in that storm. If you would, Herb, please write in the comments section of your scary and very lucky ordeal. I have forgotten some key points.

In the aftermath of the March 16, 1942 tornadoes the Caldwell Clinic was very busy with wounded and traumatic patients. That night, by candlelight, Lanny Outlaw was born. The doctors and nurses used all available lighting for treating patients for several days until power was restored.

Double-click on each photo or copy the photos and open in your viewer for better clarity.


  1. Oh boy. School must have just dismissed, or else it would have been too bad for the kids if it had hit an hour or so before.

  2. You all must be older than I. can't remember the tornado, just hearing it talked about for the next 20 year.
    Enjoying your web site!

  3. My grandmother ,Etna Lampkin, use to tell a story about the day that the 2 tornadoes hit Baldwyn. When the first on hit she was at home and her next to youngest son, Billy Bob was on his paper route. After it hit she left home in search of her boy and when she got to town the second one hit. She took shelter in the entrance of M. Gordon's store and as she got on her knees she began to pray and looked to her left and there was Damon, the old black man that walked the downtown streets, on his knees next to her. He later told someone, I don't know if it was grandmother or granddaddy Jack, that he saw her go in there and decided that he wanted to be close to someone that was close to the Lord. Bill was ok and everything was fine.
    Enjoy this site so much brings back a lot of memories. I really love that town.

  4. I was four years old. We lived next door to the Christian Church in Miss Jessie Archer's house where the library is now. Mother happened to look out the window and saw the tornado coming. I saw it too. We started to run to the church to the basement but couldn't make it. Lorene Grisham and her children, Betty Lane and Bobby, also lived there as did Mother's cousin, Aileen Ricks Hoover. Ruth Palmer (Mrs. Haddon) was visiting. All of us got under a bed except Aileen. She laid on the bed and gave a blow by blow (no pun intended) description of what was happening outside.