Killer Tornado of 1967 Remembered

The recent outbreak of severe weather brought to mind a memory of long ago. I thought I would share it with you.

As the bell rang for school to be out, the afternoon of March 6, 1967 was much like all others. The sun was shining brightly as the buses loaded for the trip home. In those days, the School Board employed students as bus drivers, and I was the driver of bus number 45. Little did I know at the time, this day would turn out like no other I had ever known.

Bus Drivers Johnny Wells, Harold Myers, Terry Nethery, Stanley Cupps, Tony Wingo, Arlon Nix and Charles Gilbert.

After departing Dora High, I swung through Washington City to drop off those that lived there. Then, it was on to Sumiton for my other two loads. My first load carried me down the Hull Road and on through the community of Dilworth. Seat belts and today’s standards had not come into play, and it was not uncommon for students to stand at the front of the bus and talk to the driver. Since he was one of the last to get off, Dennis Wright often stood on the steps and opened the door for me as we chatted. This day was no different, and as we approached his house, I remember telling him goodbye. Then it was back to Sumiton for my second load to Argo.

Dennis Wright

The sun was still shining as the Argo load boarded the bus, but this would soon change. As I pulled out onto highway 78, I could see a dark cloud ahead. Not knowing what was coming, I proceeded down Rocky Holler Hill. Then, all at once, everything turned dark gray and we were in what would be determined as an F-4 tornado. I remember thinking “What’s happening?”. Unaware of the happenings, I knew we were in some sort of danger and pulled the bus alongside the embankment beside the highway.
By this time, the bus was rocking back & forth. From the drivers seat, I watched as a house was blown off it’s foundation and slammed into the house across the road. The air was full of debris, and it seemed it would never end. But, thankfully it did.

There were two other buses very near where the tornado came through. Bus number 67 driven by Johnnie Wells and another bus from T.S Boyd. When we could see clearly, I noticed the power lines down on the pavement. I kept the bus parked until I could determine there was no danger of high voltage. We then proceeded.

As I delivered the students to their homes, the images of what I had just seen kept flashing through my mind. I felt very calm until the last stop had been made and I parked the bus at my own house. It was then it hit me. As a trembling hand opened the bus door, my knees buckled and I fell to the ground. At this instant, I realized just how close we had come. I think we can safely assume that God was watching over us that day.

The next day I learned that Dennis Wright had lost his life in the tornado. The afternoon before, when I said goodbye to him, I didn’t know it would be forever.

Harold Myers, Class of 67

Thanks to ABC 33/40’s James Spann and J.B. Elliott of the Weather Service for providing information on the March 6, 1967 F-4 tornado.

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