Tornadoes Across the River

For as long as I can remember, my father was a mechanic.  He wasn’t a technician, by today’s standards.  He didn’t have a degree in automotive repair.  Just some schooling and a love for all things cars.  When I was little, he worked at a local Mazda dealership.  Every year, he would go to Grand Rapids or Detroit for training for a week and an awards banquet.  We usually got to tag along and hung out in fancy-schmanzy hotels while he was in classes… swimming, shopping, and visiting museums.

One particular time, we were at a hotel that was located within view of the Detroit River.  For the life of me, I cannot remember the name of the hotel, just that there were several floors and there was valet parking.  The only reason I remember the valet parking is that we also towed our camper with us and were going camping for a couple of days, and dad had to park the camper and car because the valets didn’t know how to drive the car and trailer.

Now, this was probably 22 years ago.  Back then, there wasn’t Meijer and Toys R Us in Ohio… so, when we went to Michigan for these things with dad, those were high on our list of places to go.  We thought Meijer was Heaven… everything under one roof!  Could you believe it?  Now, it’s just the “norm” for us.

So, we get into our room and dad had some banquet he had to go to that night, and he immediately jumped into the shower to get ready.  Jeff and I were checking out the room and looking out the windows over the city and river. Okay, and probably jumping on the bed too.

All of a sudden, this blaring alarm came into our room through the speaker by the ceiling.

“Alert, alert.  A tornado has been spotted in the area.  Please take cover in your bathroom or the hallways, stay away from windows,  and await further instructions.”

Jeff and I immediately ran toward the windows (who wouldn’t?) and looked outside.  The sky was black and menacing– minutes ago the sun was out and it was cloudy.  We could see a strange-looking cloud coming out of the sky close to the river.  Almost like a finger or tube coming out of the sky.

Mom hustled us into the bathroom– where my dad was still in the shower.  He got out of the shower and asked, “What the hell are you guys doing?”  He wrapped the towel around himself and continued to get ready for his banquet.  As Jeff and I sat on the floor playing and mom sat on the edge of the tub, we watched him shave and clean up.

Being older (and wiser?) I know now that if the tornado would have hit the hotel, we probably wouldn’t have been safe sitting on a higher floor like we were, even with hiding in the bathroom like we did

I will never forget what my dad said, “A tornado, huh?  Damn, wish I was on the top floor.  I would love to see it happen close up.  Take some pictures.”

Only my dad could find the humor in a tornado.

The all clear was given.  Dad went to his awards banquet and we went swimming.  Just another day in Michigan.

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  1. I’m from KY and we have lots of tornadoes here too. I had a traumatic event when I was in 2nd grade involving a tornado and I’ve been terrified ever since….long story. Anyway, thanks so much for linking up with me at NanaHood. My husband’s from Michigan, near Pinckney. It’s a great state (except for the winters!) Do come back and visit again. I’m going to follow you! Teresa from

  2. oh you forgot to say that the bathroom had a tv and we had never stayed in a hotel with a bathroom tv i think it was called “The Grand” and we could look out our window and see the salmon swim up stream as they do on this ladder thingy. Great Memories…..

  3. Nana, you were logged into me.

  4. Growing up in Ohio, and now in Indiana, we’ve been through more tornado warnings than I can count. It’s hard not to treat them lightly, when you’ve been through them so many times. I remember plenty of times, watching my dad go outside to have a look at the storm. The scariest time, though, was when we were at a swim meet and saw the sky twisting and turning above us.

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