Reflections: Remembering tornado that struck Cardington 40 years ago

By Evelyn Long - Contributing Columnist

I’m still basking in the impressive Memorial Day parade and program that took place in Cardington on May 31. However, looking ahead, I want to remember a day that was of the opposite effect.

It was 40 years ago, June 13, 1981, that the village was hit by a killer tornado at exactly 3:20 p.m., destroying most of the downtown business district, leaving many residents homeless and four dead.

On the 30-year anniversary I reviewed that damage and quoted several people who had experienced it.

Two of those were Mark Parsons and Ricky Mick, who were standing at the railroad track on East Williams Street during the downpour of rain and noticed three huge clouds come together and as they watched horrified, the clouds became one and tore a path through the town, debris flying everywhere.

Mayor Susie Peyton was at her home on West Main Street helping her son make crafts for Bible School when through the rain they heard the roar and in a few seconds, after peeking out the door, she realized what it was — and she and her son headed for the basement.

Although her house was intact chaos was taking place just one block south as the funnel cloud wreaked a path of destruction before veering back to Main Street.

Lea Maceyko had graduated from high school just two weeks earlier from Cardington High School, and was at he job at the Pizza Barn, working with her boss, Jim Higgins, preparing to open when the electric went off.

Hearing the train like roar, they knew immediately, it was a tornado and Jim devised a make shift cover by flipping a pizza oven and they hovered beneath it. They rode out the storm which destroyed the business.

Everyone in the village had a story to tell. Help in rebuilding the village came from every part of the country including such organizations as the Mennonite group from Kentucky.

Also coming to assist in so many ways was the Mount Gilead Police Department, fire department and help from other county villages. Mayor Cecil Maxwell worked tirelessly with local, county and state officials while television, radio crews and news writers were a common sight in the village.

Watching the hundreds marching in the Memorial Day parade to a cemetery that is beautifully groomed and being one of an audience that viewed the most impressive Memorial Day in my memory, brings a wave of pride and appreciation for our village and those who manage it.

I’m forever grateful to those who worked hard to restore my hometown. Remember June 13.

Looking back

80 years ago: Mrs Zella Campbell, West Main Street, had a telephone installed in her home, Her number was 223K. Velma Fink fell nearly 30 feet from the railroad bridge on June 17. Her injuries were not serious and she recovered in her North Marion Street home

70 years ago: Sgt. Robert R. Ryan, wounded in battle six months prior in Korea, arrived June 8 to spend a 21 day furlough at the home of his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Z. P. Ryan, north of Cardington. Stationed in Korea for less than a month, 1947 Cardington High School graduate, Edgar R. Shoults, 22, was killed in battle on June 4.

50 years ago: Miss Clemma Vale, who taught for 35 years in the Fulton and Cardington Schools, retired.

By Evelyn Long

Contributing Columnist