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Cape Central High Photos

Ken Steinhoff, Cape Girardeau Central High School Class of 1965, was a photographer for The Tiger and The Girardot, and was on the staff of The Capaha Arrow and The Sagamore at Southeast Missouri State University. He worked as a photographer / reporter (among other things) at The Jackson Pioneer and The Southeast Missourian.

Come here to see photos and read stories (mostly true) about coming of age in Southeast Missouri in the 1960s.

Please comment on the articles when you see I have left out a bit of history, forgotten a name or when your memory of a circumstance conflicts with mine. (My mother says her stories have improved now that more and more of the folks who could contradict her have died off.) Your information helps to make this a wonderful archive and may end up in book form.


Cape Tornado of 1949

My readers usually know more about Cape history than I do and they’re good about sharing their knowledge. This contribution stopped me cold. It’s an account of the May 21, 1949, tornado that killed 22 people, hospitalized 72 and injured hundreds, written by a pregnant newlywed to her mother on pages torn from a day calendar. I’m reprinting it here with the family’s permission.

Gallery of the Tornado letter

I’m going to present the letter in two forms: as a series of photos of the pages and as a .pdf document that you can download in its entirety so you can read it at your leisure. Click on any image to make it larger, then click on the left or right side to move through the gallery.

Letter in a downloadable form

Here is a copy of the 18-page letter in a single file: 1949 Tornado Letter by Kathrine Lamkin. You’ll need Acrobat Reader version 7.0 or later to open it. The file is fairly large, so I wouldn’t try to get it if you don’t have a broadband connection. If right-clicking doesn’t open it, right click on the link and chose Save Link As. Depending on your monitor, you may want to view it at about 125%. Save the file if you want to read it later.

Kathrine Porter Russell Lamkin

The writer was Kathrine Porter Russell Lamkin. She died Aug. 27, 2009, just a few days short of her 83rd birthday.

She was a society deb, pictured in Life Magazine’s Oct. 28, 1946 photo display of the Veiled Prophet Ball in St. Louis. (I’m sorry that I don’t know which specific photo she’s in.)

She attended Washington University, where she met John T. “Jack” Lamkin after he had returned from World War II.. They were married Nov. 6, 1948. She was pregnant with Central High School classmate Tucker Lamkin when she wrote this account of the storm.

You can read more about Kathrine “Po” Lamkin her in her obituary in The Missourian.

Names I recognized

  • Codeen is Codeen Sherwood, a Lamkin family friend and cook.
  • Jack is Kathrine’s husband.
  • Dr. Herbert is Dr. Charles T. Hebert. This was a particularly heart-wrenching part of the letter.
  • Rush Limbaugh’s house was wrecked but the family was at Rush Jr.’s wedding when the storm hit.
  • It ruined Dr. Parker’s house, touched the Boutin house and knocked down a tree at Libby and Jack Oliver’s.
  • The Medical Building is wrecked and Dr. Ritter and the other doctors are working out of Dr. Ritter’s home.

Missourian Series

The Southeast Missourian did a good job of pulling together photos, reprints and stories from the 1949 tornado. Rather than rehashing what they did, I’ll get out of the way and let Mrs. Lamkin’s letter and The Missourian retrospective speak for history.

Thanks to the Lamkin family for sharing this first-hand account of one of Cape’s biggest tragedies.

 

 

45 comments to Cape Tornado of 1949

  • Ken,
    I don’t think this lady was born in Aug 2009 and died three days later??? Should it be 1909??

    • Anna,

      You are entirely correct. I have fixed that in an update to say she died Aug. 27, 2009, just a few days short of her 83rd birthday.

      That’s what happens when you do these posts in the middle of the night when you’re half asleep. I was looking at the Ford and Sons obit, which listed the death date and service date at the top of the page. Typing without thinking got me in trouble, because I assumed that they were listing birth and death dates.

      I don’t need a spellchecker so much as a dummkopf checker.

      I worked with a copy editor at The Missourian, Bill Meston, who was inhuman in his ability to catch minor errors. He couldn’t bring himself to actually talk to the offending reporter.

      He’d sidle over to your desk holding your copy like it had been dipped in dog doo, then drop it on your desk with disdain. Clipped to it would be a terse question or observation, something like, “I believe the minister’s name is The Rev. Boone, not Boob. Please keep your theological differences outside of the newspaper.”

      The bad thing is that he was always right.

      One day, though, I thought I had him. I took an obituary where the woman’s birth day and month were the same as when she died. I KNEW he’d question that, so I was ready for him.

      Sure enough, here he came. He had a smug little grin, bigger, I think, than usual.

      Just before I could pull out my notes to show him I was right, I glanced down at what he had written: “I’ve heard of child brides before, but this is ridiculous.”

      I had the wedding day and month right, but I had made the year the same as the birth year.

      I swear that Bill walked away from me and jumped into the air clicking his heels together – all without ever leaving the ground.

      After I worked a rotation in his slot, he would actually talk to me. Although, if he was editing my copy, he’d always revert to the notes. I have some of them filed away still. They’re funny to me today because I can appreciate his dry wit. They weren’t so amusing when they were dropped on my desk.

      Anna, I’m glad to see the spirit of Bill Meston is alive in you.

  • JTL

    Thanks, Ken, for the great write-up. We didn’t expect all of this.

    Some may recall that the letter was originally posted under Codeen’s name as she had a major part in the narrative. We believe it needs no attribution to make it meaningful. But, as the writer is now identified, other folks mentioned include Bess and her sister Floy, wife of REL Lamkin. Codeen was major domo of their house for 40 or so years.

    Bob and Skeeter were Mr. and Mrs REL Lamkin, Jr. Ann is their daughter (CHS Class ’62).

    Dr. Dennis Elrod, never heard the first name used, delivered over 5,000 babies at Southeast, but must have been working outside of his area of expertise in the emergency.

    Finally, as Brad Brune pointed out originally, this letter says as much about mid-Twentieth Century Cape as it does of the tornado. Hopefully it will encourage others to share personal accounts of other events we had in common in that by-gone era.

    • JTL,

      Thank you so much for sharing this with us. I was blown away, figuratively, when you posted the letter as a comment to my dog-ate-my-homework story about having to unplug my computer because of lightning.

      I thought it deserved to be featured much more prominently so more folks would be likely to see it.

      Your mother must have been an extraordinary woman. I loved her obit.

      • JTL

        Extraordinary depends upon one’s frame of reference. From our standpoint she was a Cape housewife with a few quirks. But, from a 2011 vantage point she was one of several such women who together provided that rare environment many of us, your readers, still refer to fondly as “Home.”

        Her contempoaries say that the obituary fairly depicts her despite removal by the Missourian of a few adjectives regarding her challenging children, and some descriptive paragraphs of her life in Cape.

        As I recall one of them dealt with her summer perch on the hill under the tree at the old Country Club with a number of other mothers watching their children trying to drown one another.

        For those interested, I’ve posted some photos of her from our genealogy site at

        https://sites.google.com/site/kathrineporterrusselllamkin/home/photographs

        One, that includes me, was taken 6 months after the letter was written.

  • Bill Stone

    What a wonderful personal family treasure of a tragic milestone event in Cape. Thanks for sharing.
    I have written of this before but I was 4 years old when I went thru the tornado that day. It is one of my early memories. My Mother has recalled that the day was strange in that the air seemed close and we (the kids) were cross. I was playing my record player on the porch and I remember the pretty green sky. Skipped all the detail, we ended up lying in a ditch across the street on Cape Rock Dr during the tornado. Mom recalls seeing the Airline lounge go up in the air and just disintegrated.
    After the storm was over I remember visiting the Red Star area on North Main. There was a foundation where a house had been. In the basement on a shelf were can goods and a stack of 78 rpm records. All untouched! There was a train wrecked in that area.
    Dad was a Captain in the Service Company of the National Guard. The Guard was in Arcadia Valley that weekend. They broke camp and started back to Cape. Dad sent a jeep ahead, loaded with one Guardsman from each part of town so they could report on the welfare of each family.
    I will never forget the tornado of 1949.

  • larry points

    I was also four years old, like ’62 classmate Bill. Memories of the late afternoon turning very dark and then that awful roaring sound. I can hear Dad saying “I think we had better go to the basement”. And so, down from the supper table to the empty “coal bin” room…and Dad lifting me up to look out the window just as the beast went by, down the hill from our home on Sunset Court off Lacey; obliterating many homes just north of Broadway behind what would become Child’s I.G.A.. My mind’s eye is indelibly stamped with a dust and debris filled sky.

    • I didn’t realize until reading this account that the storm hit the Sunset area. I always associated all the damage with Red Star.

      I was only two years old when the storm hit, so I don’t have any first-hand knowledge of it. I DO recall seeing clothing and debris hanging from the trees in that area for a long time afterward. My folks would point to it and say, “That’s from the tornado.”

      One of Lila’s relatives had a house torn in half by the twister. She has a photo somewhere of it being pulled back together with chains. The house is standing today, she said.

      I’ve written before about one of our neighbors who was experiencing pain in his arm years after the storm. It turned out that a long wood splinter had been driven into his arm and he never realized it until then.

  • What an amazing account. So specific and so local. Non-locals won’t recognize any of the street locations, but this account is still so powerful because she cited so many examples of exactly what effect the storm had. And she knew its exact path because it went right through HER town. Very interesting.

  • Brenda

    My family lived on North Frederick Street. Growing up I’ve heard many stories about this storm which hit a year before I was born. Members of my family had scratches but no serious injuries. Our home was one house from Ms. Codeen’s. I have many fine memories of the neighborhood and visit it whenever I come home to Cape.

  • Don Wareing

    Thanks for reminding people that these tragedies have occurred right in our own backyard. My father’s house was one of the houses destroyed in that tornado. I was one year old at the time. The only thing my parents salvaged was a floor model console Zenith radio and a porcelain piggy bank that sat on top of it that was full of dimes. My mother saved them for special things for her kids. These two items were along a center wall of the house; the only portion of our house remaining. I have a drawer full of slides from that era showing the devastation if you are inclined to use them. We were lucky in that only our house and belongings were destroyed. Not everyone was that lucky.

  • Judi Coleman

    MY AUNT CAROL WENT INTO LABOR & HAD BEEN AT ST FRANCIS HOSPITAL ABOUT 10 MINUTES WHEN THE STORM HIT. SHE & EDDIE HAD BEEN STAYING WITH MRS HICKS, HER MOM, WHO LIVED ON N SPRIGG. THEY WERE ALL AT THE HOSPITAL WITH CAROL. AFTER TERRY WAS BORN THEY GOT HOME TO FIND NO HOME AT ALL WAS LEFT, BUT THE OAK TREE IN FRONT OF THE HOUSE WAS STILL THERE WITH ALL OF CAROL’S UNMENTIONABLES HANGING ALL OVER IT! EDDIE COULDN’T REACH DAD UNTIL ABOUT 9 PM THAT NIGHT TO LET HIM KNOW EVERYONE WAS ALL RIGHT AND THAT HE HAD A NEW NIECE, HEALTHY AND ALIVE!

  • Roslyn (Ticer)Kline

    Thanks for sharing such a moving note of the events.The details and oddities of some of the distruction but the human spirit of pulling together to help each other was great. She may have been all grown up, and been through a lot that day, she needed to talk to Mommy. (Don’t we all !)

  • Wow! Ms.Lamkin’s account is a detailed chronology of a historic event, with specific names and places identified! Unbelievable! She even cataloged the items which were spared by the “cyclone.”
    I’m glad the family gave you permission to print this account, Ken–It is truly a piece of history not available anywhere else!

  • Margi Whitright

    I well remember the tornado. I was five years old and it was my sister’s birthday but we didn’t eat her cake until a couple days later. The tornado came towards us from the old fairgrounds on Independence. I remember a swath showing over the hill near Schonhoff’s Dairy. We could see their barn from our house. My Uncle Willard Stout had been out for a drive with Aunt Edna and Grandmother when the tornado blocked them off near the fairgrounds. He came running up the street to our house and I don’t remember how the ladies were retrieved. It seems like Daddy went back with Uncle Willard. The only damage we had was that our garage door would never close after that and Daddy had to replace it.

  • Susan Fee Means

    What an amazing account, I appreciate the Lamkin family allowing this letter to be published.

    Although my parents and grandparents experienced this tornado first hand, I don’t think I ever knew the extent of the damage or that so many people lost their lives that day.

  • Margi Whitright

    I just finished reading the letter and have to tell you it is remarkable. Thanks so much for printing this history of a very memorable day.

  • Vickie Sams Cash

    Ken,
    I am so grateful for all the work you do to provide us with wonderful memories each day.
    Thanks to the Lamkin family sharing this priceless account of Cape’s historic 1949 tornado. I’ve heard my mom and dad talk about that day. At that time they had a house out on Bend Road (which is always flooded at times like we’re having now) and my mother was at home with my older sister and dad was at work in Cape. Prior to the tornado, relatives brought my mom and sister into town to my grandmother’s house. It took my dad a while to find out where they were (no cell phones then). All of my family was blessed to be unharmed by the tornado and none of them had any property damage either.
    Many years ago I worked with a lady who brought in her original 1949 Southeast Missourian, and this was the first time I was able to see photos of the tornado’s destruction, and the lives it changed.
    Thanks again for giving us this piece of Cape’s history, and for enabling us to download this for future reading.

  • Janet Fenimore Robert

    Thanks to Kathrine for the amazing account of that day and the Lamkin family for sharing her letter. I remember it like it was yesterday. Am still frightened of storms. My dad and I were locked out of our house and he made me crawl through a bedroom window to go open the front door. I knew by the sky and the sound something bad was happening. My mother had gone downtown shopping and could not get home so we did not know if she was okay or not until later that evening. Then I remember listening to the radio and the station giving out the names of the deceased. Some were friends of my parents and I remember all of the tears. After reading Katherines letter I believe the little girl Dr Herbert was treating may have been one of the friends, because the mother was killed, the little girl and the father worked on the river. It is all so clear to me and still so frightening to recall that day. My husbands (Norm)dad had the gas station by the Airline that the gas tank blew a mile away! With no warnings then it is a miracle more deaths did not occur. Thanks for putting this together, Ken. As usual, you out did yourself

  • penny hawkins

    Such a powerful story. Thanks, Ken. I remember the sound of the train. My father carrying me to the coal bin room in the basement. According to Miss Poe, we lost a tree…but others’ roofs were in our yard. It struck a church up the hill from Sprigg street where many died. If memory serves me, my father was the volunteer head of the Red Cross and crawled under the downed and live electric wires to the headquarters to begin volunteer efforts. My mother slept on the love seat in the living room awaiting his return which didn’t happen until late the next day. My grandfather walked through the Home of the Birds to our house on Sprigg street to make sure that we were o.k. What a horrible day in Cape’s history. But we showed in 1949, how a community came together to help one another with the help of all folks in all areas of our community. Thankfully, though I’ve followed the current sad situation in Poplar Bluff and Sikeston, it appears that our controversial flood wall held during this flooding.

  • fred williams

    In December, 1949, my parents became the first owners of house on Thilenius street that had been dammaged in the May tornado. I was 6 months old. The northeast corner of this brick house, which would become my childhood bedroom, had been removed and a large portion of the roof destroyed. My 94 yearold mother still lives in this house where I was raised. Somewhere in a desk she has a series of black and white photos that show the destruction. I remember when I saw them I was shocked that they would purchase this property. But in late 1949 single family housing was in demand, and after repairs were finished we all moved in. My father was teaching wood working classes at the college and had scavenged beams and timbers from around the Airline lounge area to make benches for me and my brother to sit on. Even with all the extre spike and nail holes we did complain. I still have and use these pieces of furniture.

    Fred Williams CHS class of 1967

  • Joe Whitright

    My brother, Gene, Dick Parks, and I were on the way back from Illmo and as we were coming up 61 highway, we could see the tornado out west and heading for Cape. By the time we got in cape, it had hit. We had left Lorraine Frey in Illmo with a group of girls so we headed out to Red Star where she lived and when we got to her house or where it had been we saw it in a low place next to where it had been blown. We found no sign of any of her family so we went back to Illmo and came back to Cape and started to search the hospitals for them and found all of them alive IN 3 different hospitals, some injured pretty bad but otherwise okay.
    Loraine went on later to marry Leon Frey whose wife and child had gotten killed in the tornado. I sure don’t want to be involved in another one of those storms. I understand that there were 29 people had gotten killed in the tornado.
    Joe Whitright “45”

  • Janet Fenimore Robert

    Joe, the Frey family are the ones I was referring to. Leon’s family and my parents were good friends. Leon had a sister Juanita that my Mom grew up with since childhood. We just heard this past week that Juanita just passed away in Florida. She was 91. Small world….

  • Would this be Walter Lamkin’s mother? He was a classmate of mine. Class of 68.

  • Ken, you’re received a great archive of responses, as you always do. I’ve always felt so “out of it” regarding the great storm of ’49 because I lived in the south end (last block of South Park)and we hardly knew it happened till it was over and news spread of the devastation. My brother was married that day, as was Rush Limbaugh, Jr. (“Rusty’s” dad)but he and spouse had left earlier for Lake Taneycomo(?) for honeymoon. Keep up the good work. My own blog is Ichabod’s Kin at http://www.ichabodskin.wordpress.com (no apostrophe in the link).

  • Walter Lamkin

    Ken, many thanks for ‘publishing’ this memoir from our mom. It’s odd to think of her at age 23, only recently married, pregnant the first of seven times and having moved to Cape from St. Louis. Her chronicle of the events of that day are eerie in a way, a look back into a long-lost time of rudimentary communication compared to the 24/7 news cycle of today. Her recitations about our dad, grandmother and others brings back memories of a simple time coming of age in what I still consider to be an idyllic place. My middle daughter, Mom’s namesake, is the same age now, though her life’s circumstances are quite different. Odd, isn’t it, the juxtaposition of historical events as we’ve experienced a recent wave of ‘cyclones’ in the Southeast–cyclones like the one in The Wizard of Oz. It’s a much better term than ‘tornado’ don’t you think?

    • There are so many things that make the account special:

      The salutation: “Dearest Mommy”

      The choice of paper

      The amount of detail

      The correct grammar and spelling

      It made you relive the event. You wonder how many of these treasures are stuck away (or thrown away) by families who don’t know their value.

      Thanks to your for sharing it. It has meant a lot to all of us who had read it.

  • Ken,
    Once again, what an amazing job you’ve done of publishing such a compelling account. When I read it, I’d just come in the house for a drink of water in the middle of mowing the yard. But I couldn’t go back out until I’d finished reading Po’s words. She was a friend and a friend of my parents, ages 92 and 88.
    I would like to download the entire letter, for future reading and to print out to give to my folks. Unfortunately, I can’t figure out how to download it. Don’t see a link or any other means to download. I can imagine how busy you are, but I (and my folks) would greatly appreciate your assistance.
    Thanks for posting this letter and thanks for your assistance.

    • Mark, If you go to the section that says “Letter in a downloadable form,” there is a link to a copy of the whole letter in one piece.

      You have two options:

      1. Click on the link and after it opens, click in File Save in your Acrobat reader. Pick somewhere that you can find it, then read it at your leisure.

      2. Go to that link and right-click on it. Depending on which browser you use, it should say something like “Save Link As.” Pick a place to save it like above.

      Good luck. Let me know if you have problems and we’ll explore some other options.

      Anything I can do to give you an excuse not to mow the lawn is a good thing.

  • Ellen Bray Busch

    Ken, thank you so much for sharing this amazing first hand account of the 1949 tornado. Thank you to the Lamkin family for allowing us to read this letter from Katherine to her mom. I was 4 years old at the time of the tornado and for me was one of my earliest memories. My family was visiting my grandparents in Illmo and after supper, my grandfather (Dr. G. T Dorris) had gone out on the back porch and looked at the sky toward Cape and told my parents that he felt that a tornado had gone towards Cape! Soon afterwards my mother, father, baby sister (Mary) and I got into our car and headed home to Cape to see if our home was still there. I remember standing in the back seat (no car seats or seat belts then!) and hearing my anxious parents talk about whether our home was still there or not. As we drove down the highway we saw overturned tanker trucks and alot of other damage. We finally arrived home to North Ellis street next to Centenary Methodist and found our street and home to be OK but of course we were just beginning to learn of what had happened to many others not so fortunate and the terrible tragedy of the 1949 tornado. I just downloaded and printed a copy of this account to share with my dad who will enjoy reading it. Thank you again.

  • June Bolen

    I was 5 years old and lived on Mason Street just around the corner from the Shoe Factory. I remember being in the yard picking up hail stones. Later my family drove to the Red Star area to check on my Uncle Omer Winstead. There was nothing left of his house except the concrete step.

  • Jean Looney Lanham

    I was 17 years old and lived in Advance. Some friends and I went to a movie in Cape that evening, we came out of the theater, drove back to Advance and my mother was out of her mind worried about me. We were oblivious to any thing except our own good time. I couldn’t understand why she worried so much until much later. Mother was listening to KFVS , which as always did a thorough job of reporting.

  • Bonnie Davis

    Thank you for posting this! My grandmother lived in Cape (although I think she and her family may have moved by that time, but still had more family living there). She and the letter writer were about the same age. She tells me that she lived on “the Hill.”

    After the cyclone, she went back to Cape Girardeau to survey the damage and help the family that still lived there clean up. I’m so excited to have more information to take to her and spur some more memories!

    Bonnie Davis (and Mary Lee (Qualls) Hodson)

  • Cynthia King

    Ken,
    Thank you for keeping such an amazing history for us all.

  • Anola Gill Stowick

    Wow Ken, thank you and thanks to the Lamkin family. What a remarkable account. I was only 2 at the time and never saw the damage, but I remember grownups talking about it hushed voices and being nervous. My dad was called up for guard duty and was gone for several nights.

  • Jean Hengst-Freeman

    Wow, I just read Katherine’s account of the ’49 tornado. Did that ever bring back memories. I still have goosebumps.

    That day, we were just coming back from town and were trying to get to West Rodney before the tornado hit. We made it to the garage and stood there watching the tornado come out of an ugly yellowish-green sky. As it came down Gordonville Road, it then hit the Arena Park. Back in those days, it was also the site of the city dump. I stood there awe-struck as I watched stoves, old wringer washers and just plain junk and debris spread over the sky like rain drops.

    We didn’t realize what damage had happened in Cape until later. As the crow flies, the Airline wasn’t that far away from W. Rodney. We were incredibly lucky it didn’t turn to the West a little more or we would have been hit head on.

    I believe that the man that was directing traffic was Mr. Foeste and he had said his son was dead. I can’t remember if it was Clyde Foeste or not. Our family was friends years ago, but I can’t remember which Foeste lost their son.

    Also, I’d heard that someone had died when a piece of a tree split and went through their body. That is just an old memory that popped into this foggy old brain of mine while I was reliving that horrible tragedy of ’49. I can still see it coming down Gordonville Road today as if it were yesterday….and I was only five years old at the time.

  • Bill Jackson

    I was one year and one day old that day. My Grand parents had come up from Benton fory birthday. We lived in a house near the corner of Broadway and West End (torn down for the present gas station) The story was that grandpa was holding me out on the porch and telling everyone that it was just a strong wind and everything would be ok. Jack and Po, as everyone called her, were friends from church. Dad worked for Jack in the shoe department at Buckner’s. Jack used to live in a house on Pemiscot near the graveyard. After Mom moved to Chateau Girardeau and couldnt go to see dads grave, Jack would call her and tell her that he saw “Bud” on his walk and everything was ok. They were good people.

  • Gary Huckstep

    Ken, somewhere in my house I have some Pics of that storm.I will try to find them and post them

  • Mary Seabaugh Francis

    Well, I should have known that when searching for some info on the May 21, 1949 Tornado……..that none other but Ken Steinhoff’s name with a history/pictures of the disaster would come rolling up at the top! I didn’t think about that but it was a pleasant surprise………..and great info and comments……… Not only that it was before your time buddy!!!!!!!!!!

    I can remember standing on our front porch near Advance……Stoddard and Bollinger County line…….and seeing the awful looking sky toward the Cape Girardeau area…….green and dark and wicked looking………. I was just a little kid then but that sky left a imprint on my brain that I will never forget……..

  • Kathy Kraemer

    I was born in 1963, so I was not alive, but the stories abounded in the 1500 block of Main and surrounding Red Star area of this storm. Our house at 1541 N Main supposed suffered only a blown away storm door, while the house next door, Mrs. Garner’s, imploded! Mrs. Diebold who watched us as we waited for the bus, told of using her dishtowel and apron as diapers for her son. Thanks for letting me understand more about this event.

  • Tina Crabtree

    Hi-
    What a wonderful piece of history here in these letters. I was reading about the Welker family in Red Star District…my step-dad, Francis Griffith, was 7 at the time of this tornado and was actually helping the one Welker boy and his father, work on the roof right before this twister hit. His mother, my grandmother called him and his brother, Dale, home to eat minutes before. The Welker boy, and his father(I don’t recall their names) perished in the storm. They are the only two Welker’s that perished that I am aware of, I could be wrong. My dad recalled that they had just sat down to eat when the chair his brother was sitting in flew backwards and was almost completely scalped. My dad didn’t receive many injuries from what he said. The woman they found in the tree, was one of the Welker girls, Patsy. Her and Bonnie, another sister, were flown in two different directions, but both survived.
    I had found some pictures of this tornado several years ago in a house that I used to live in, but due to moves and a divorce, I lost them long ago. I wish I still had them to share with others. There were pictures of the Marble Heights area, Red Star area, and the old Airlines Restaurant, and many more showing extensive damage. Anyway, thanks for sharing these letters what a poignant time in Cape Girardeau History.

  • Don Wareing.

    I’ve got a whole bunch of slides that my Dad took of his destroyed home on Bend Road.

  • Hugo Lang

    I also remember that day, I was five years old and lived at 106 S. Henderson. I can still remember the strange green color of the sky that day. I was at home with Mom and Dad was at the jewelry store. We stood on the front porch for a time then went to the basement. There was no damage in our area nor to my grandparents home on my father’s side who lived on Good Hope just east of the business district. My grandparents on the mother’s side lived on Luce Street, just east of Caruthers Ave. I remember Mom saying she had called her Mom to check on her and if she knew there had been a tornado to which she replied, “it just took the roof of the house.” All of the family was alright.

    Ken, Lila referred to the house that belonged to a family member that had been pulled apart and had been tied back together with chains. That house belonged and still does belong my wife’s family. My wife is Lila’s first cousin.

    Many thanks to the Lamkin family for sharing the letter.

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