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Mission City Voices: Twister in Santa Clara

It was the middle of a hot summer day. My home, across from Olsen’s Pear orchard, is located toward the end of our cul-de-sac on Benton Street. Today a group of ten kids are sitting and lying beneath the large Bing cherry tree on our front lawn. Per usual we were having a snack of cherries and pears and drinking our favorite ice-cold Kool Aid. We were relaxing after playing in the heat of the day all morning and into the afternoon. Everyone was tired and quiet, it felt like a good time to take a nap. Suddenly someone stood up and pointed down the street yelling, “Look!”

It was definitely not a tornado from “Tornado Alley” but it was the first twister I had ever seen. Being only 11 years old and not very tall myself, I only recall that it seemed taller than me or any of my friends. It was moving at a steady pace towards us as it made its way off the edge of Benton Street in the dirt that bordered the first row of pear trees in the orchard.

It was the first time I can recall seeing this natural wonder. We watched the dust devil come down the edge of the street, just in front of a row of pear trees. Where it originated from we never knew but it was about 6 feet tall and 3 feet wide. We watched in awe as this baby tornado came down the street at us. From the edge of the street, the dust devil was swirling and kicking up dirt and debris. Suddenly when the baby twister got even with us, it turned 90 degrees, as it had its own pair of eyes and came straight towards us. Could this have been the eye of the tornado or a tornado with our names on it? We were caught surprised and completely off guard. Most of the kids ran away but a couple of kids and me bent over, put our faces in the grass and covered our heads. I  recall being pelted with small twigs and dirt clods and being covered by heavy dust. With my head buried beneath my arms I could hear the sound of the dust devil crashing into the side of the house. I was surprised windows weren’t shattered. All in all it was a happy memory as no one was hurt. After all these years this whirlwind could be why today one of my favorite movies is “Twister”.

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5 Comments
  1. Buchser Alum 2 months ago
    Reply

    Larry,
    .
    What a wonderful story of a very special experience.
    .
    Was the Olsen pear orchard around where Laurelwood Elementary School is now?

    • Larry 2 months ago
      Reply

      The orchard was east of Lawrence toward Buchser. It is now Homestead Park.

      • Larry 2 months ago
        Reply

        The orchard was east of Lawrence toward Buchser. It is now Homestead Park.

      • Buchser Alum 2 months ago
        Reply

        Larry,
        .
        Thank you for your reply. I should have known. This was when Benton did not even intersect with Pomeroy yet not to mention Lawrence Station is that right?

  2. Larry Flora 2 months ago
    Reply

    Thank you for enjoying my story. I hope that you get a chance to read some of my other ones.
    Please share yours as well. Thanks again!

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