The 1956 Tornado Remembered

The scene of destruction looking West down Church Street from the April 1956 tornado.
File Photo / The Lexington Progress

These are the recollections of Paul Williams on the April 1956 tornado, from an article in the files of The Lexington Progress: When I got home from work on the afternoon of April 3, 1956, there was no way I could ever imagine what was going to happen in about two hours. People’s lives were changed forever. It was a horrible time, but even with the tragedy some humorous things happened to me. Many people showed a lot of courage, but that’s just the way Lexington people are.

I came home from work feeling very feverish – I thought I was taking the flue. I put my car in the garage and locked the front door, so no one would know I was home. I went to bed, and I had to feel bad to do that, but I didn’t want to be disturbed. Later, when Mary Sue came home from work, the storm was beginning to look bad. I was inside asleep as she was trying to get inside. Since the door was locked, she thought I wasn’t home so she ran next door to Dutch and Esta Lee Thomas’ home to get in their storm house. She thought that was where I was. When I heard the door shake, I went to open it and that is when I saw the street lined with cars.

Nearly everyone on Brown Street (except me) was in Dutch and Esta Lee’s storm house. I ran to the back door to look out toward town. What I saw nearly scared me to death. All I could see was shingles, sheets of tin, and all kinds of debris swirling through the air. I literally flew out the front door barefoot with only my pajama bottoms on. Believe me there wasn’t enough time to put my clothes on. It could have easily been just my Fruit-of-the Looms. Luckily, I had my pajamas on. As I ran out the front door, the TV antenna slammed to the…

For the complete story, see the April 11th edition of The Lexington Progress.

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