Before there were radars, news interruptions, or sirens people just had to rely on instinct and knowledge.
It didn’t seem like anything out of the ordinary that day until my older brother came running in from school and shouted a big black thing was following him home from school. He had pedaled as fast as possible.
My mother ran to the front of the house. The next thing I knew all the kids in the house were ushered under a large table with two adults and a transistor radio. We listened as the tornado traveled down Polk, hitting the Dixico plant, traveling north.
When it was thought to be safe, we got out to investigate the damage — heading toward my grandmother’s house on Winnetka to make sure she was OK. What we discovered was the tornado had hit around Willomet and Jefferson and traveled down Winnetka. You see where tornadoes take entire blocks, but this one was so selective — up and down, sparing one and hitting another.
Even a kid, under 10, can be surprised to see Grandma’s house without a roof! The entire roof was lifted off the house and thrown into the neighbor’s backyard tree, while pictures remained on the walls. The tornado — at least in the 400 block — had skipped the two 2-story houses and hit the 3 single story homes. When you go down Winnetka and see wrought iron columns, it was the thing in those days and probably replaced damage from the tornado. Although 401 N. Winnetka has the same floor plan, the roof and porch are not close to the original, and changed the appearance greatly.
After hitting 400 N. Winnetka, the tornado crossed at the alley onto Clinton and damaged the theater at Davis, before crossing over to Edgefield and into west Dallas.
I found this clip of the tornado on you-tube:
Lots of photos of the tornado on this site: 1957dallastornado.net