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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Tornado reminds reader of father's story

Friday, June 19, 2009

My family and I were out house hunting in Denver this past Sunday. When we set on our quest, I mentioned how the clouds looked like they were going to turn into something more than just rain.

I was right. About an hour into our outing, I looked out of the front passenger window and there it was. A funnel cloud was developing in the western sky. I was amazed, but not surprised. For the last two weeks, Denver skies have been filled with funnel clouds. I just had not seen one first-hand. I was excited and scared all at the same time. I thought immediately of my dad, Paul Sartor, and the story he told when I was a kid.

The first story that I can remember being told to me about a tornado, besides, "The Wizard of Oz," was told by dad. He told of when he was a kid working in a strawberry field on Fruitridge Avenue in Terre Haute and a tornado hit Deming Park. The details of the dark sky and uprooted trees were vivid. The story was at that time frightening for me. I was scared that a tornado would hit our house. He assured me that we would be fine. He was right. Our house on Alabama Street was never bothered by a tornado.

When I was a kid, dad worked very hard for our family, five and sometimes six days a week. Most time late and always too early. I missed seeing him in the mornings, but we always regrouped over the dinner table. We would hear about his day and he would hear about ours.

Sometimes, the details of my day landed me in trouble, not that I really ever got in trouble. Most of the time, my "crimes" would be small, such as breaking something or getting a bad grade. However, I remember the time that I was sure dad was going to kill me or worse, ground me. I was 16 and a new driver.

I'm sure you can imagine where this story is going. I worked at Kentucky Fried Chicken, evenings and weekends. I used to either walk to work or dad would take me when he could.

One Sunday morning, I asked if I could borrow his nice new Ford Granada. Much to my surprise, he said yes. Cool, right?


As I was backing out of our new garage, I backed into a newly sided house. In one quick motion, I managed to remove the wood trim from the garage door, destroy the right front quarter panel on the car and ding the white aluminum siding. That's not the half of it.

Just inside the room that I backed into, were my parents having their morning coffee.

I sat in the car a few minutes before I made my move, down the driveway and onto work. Panic had taken over any good sense that I may have had or apparently did not have.

I made it to work and built up the courage to call home. No surprise, dad answered the phone. I instantly began yelling at him before he could really say anything. I used the "being mad first is the best defense" approach.

When I calmed down, he spoke.

"Are you finished?"

I said, "ye."

The next thing that happened was truly amazing.

"You will have to pay my deductible. It's $50."

That was it, no anger. No lecture. Nothing.

My dad's version of the above story is so much better than mine. His eyes twinkle when he tells it. The amazing thing about this situation is that he was so calm about it. He knew that I was upset enough for the both of us and he was able to see the funny side of the situation.

I knew right away that he really loved me because he did not want to kill me.

Dad is a born storyteller and I love to hear most of them.

He can scare you and amaze you all at the same time, much like the tornado I saw Sunday.