Remember the days of clunky box TVs that weighed a ton and the video-cassette recorders? I remember the joy and awe of having our first VCR, and being able to tape movies off tv. We soon accumulated many grainy homemade videotapes. One of our favorites was of the made-for-tv movie “Night Of The Twisters”. In it, 12-year-old Dan and his best buddy Arthur survive a night of tornado after tornado. Dan is in charge of his baby brother Ryan, who he’s really not too fond of. But he does his duty, and becomes a hero. We watched that videotape dozens of times!
About a month ago, I was in a thrift store, browsing the used books, when one title caught my eye: Night of the Twisters. It was a kids’ book, but out of nostalgia I paid 50 cents and brought it home to read. It was a surprisingly good read. I loved the descriptions of what their day was like before the bad weather hit – swimming, riding bikes, watching mom wrestle with the sewing machine, having weiners for supper (who calls them that now?!), and having only a few tv channels to flip through.
Until I read the book, I didn’t know that the movie and book were based on a 1980 June night when the small town of Grand Island, Nebraska had seven twisters in just a few hours. So although the characters in the store are fictional, the events are very real. Five people died, and several hundred were injured. Forty-nine businesses and 475 homes were destroyed. The National Weather Service website documents the fearsome night:
Don’t be afraid to pick up a kid’s book occasionally, either to read with a child or just for yourself. The book or the movie is a great choice for anyone third grade and above.