}

June 4, 2011

Our Tornado Close Call

A CLOSE CALL, THESE 3 TORNADO'S FROM LAST WEDNESDAY'S STORMS, ALL STOPPED JUST MILES FROM OUT HOUSE, WHICH SITS JUST A HALF INCH DOWN FROM THE WORD WORCESTER, ON THE RIGHT OF THIS MAP.

Last week, while driving home from work, I could see that the sky was very dark, green even. Never a good thing during thunderstorm season here in New England. Suddenly, just as a reporter from NPR our local Boston station was reporting on the recovery in Joplin, Missouri, the report was interrupted by the infamous EEEEEp-EEEEEEp-EEEEEEEEP of the National Emergency Broadcast system. Usually it was followed by "this is a test, of the National Emergency Broadcast System, if this was an actual emergency..." but sadly, it was. A tornado was sighted, in fact two were sighted near our home in Massachusetts, and I was driving straight into the storm from the south, since I work an hour away in Providence, Rhode Island.
MY DAD, VITTY A. MATTUS ,AN AMERICAN  REGIONALIST ARTIST WHO PAINTED REGIONALIST WORKS FROM THE 1930's UNTIL THE MID 1950'S. THIS IS HIS INTERPRETATION OF THE GREAT WORCESTER TORNADO. Oil on Canvas.
You may think that tornado's are rare in New England, but they are not. In fact, in until last month's Joplin tragedy, our June 9, 1953 Worcester Tornado, with winds estimated at 256 MPH was an EF5, the country's deadliest tornado destroyed my home town of Worcester, injuring 1288 people and killing 94. I  was raised with this unrealistic ( or realistic?) tornado fear, since I was born ten years after the big tornado, and even though it hit the northern part of our city, every time we drove through it, my dad would show us how all of the trees were gone, and vivid details of the that fateful day.
A RARE PHOTO OF THE 1953 WORCESTER, MASSACHUSETTS TORNADO, AN EF5

Ironically, this past Wednesday's storm, he spent on a lounge chair outside by accident. At 97, he still gets around, but he is obsessed with feeding the birds. He is also, dare I say, or Hell, I'll just say it....a nudist. Yep. He liked to lay in the sun nude. He thinks this is one reason why he lives so long,, but that's for another post. Wednesday, he fell asleep in the lounge chair by the greenhouse and then couldn't get up because it was too low. Joe was taking a nap testing our the new air conditioner he had bought earlier that day, in the guest bedroom with Margaret and the other dogs, and never heard the storm coming. Needless to day, after surviving hail, lightning and heavy wind and rain, dad's none for the worse and has a cool story to tell his girlfriend.





THE ENTIRE NORTHERN PART OF OUR CITY WAS DESTROYED, SIMILAR TO THE JOPLIN TORNADO.


Thankfully, the storm passed over us just after the tornado lifted and weakened. The storms were trailing, and there were four tornado warnings, and on the weather channel, we could see the storms as they kept forming over and over again over the same towns, and then head straight for us. The meteorologists kept saying "if your in this path, in Worcester or Auburn, you had better take shelter immediately, since these storms are moving fast. In then end, we are all fine, but the towns just to the west of us have significant damage, and 4 fatalities. One tornado that just missed us, was rated an EF3, and it traveled 39 miles before it lifted just 5 miles from our house.

5 comments :

  1. Anonymous12:03 PM

    Tell your dad I love that painting. The feel of Grant Wood. Keep Margaret cool & stay out of big winds!
    Cathy in Utah

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  2. I have to admit, even though I live closer to Boston (in Natick), I took a few choice things inside from my garden that night. Your photo/painting references are fascinating!

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  3. Your father's painting is wonderful and very evocative. We have tornadoes here often enough to pay attention to the sirens, esp. this spring. Last week we went down to the basement and watched the weather on TV and the laptop as a funnel was taking shape a couple of blocks from our house. Way to close for comfort . . .

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  4. Anonymous3:56 PM

    I have a piece of art that i think was done by your dad its called the MP news and it was done as a congratulations cartoon piece when my grandfather Elliott Hughes became capt in the army . It is a treasured item in our family!

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    1. Yes, wow - my Dad did illustrate the MP news - we have a few of them still, as well as some of the original art. If you are ever able to photograph it, I would love to see if it matches up with any of his original sketches. Please email me directly at mmattus@charter.net

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