Let's clean out the notebook ...
• It almost escaped us, but Wednesday was such a nice, sunny day at lunch. But then I came back to the office and I thought April 3 sounded so familiar. Than 1974 hit me.
It was a Wednesday night on April 3, 1974, when the tornadoes came through this area, devastating areas such as Jasper and Guin.
Naturally, growing up, I was 7 miles from Guin, so that made an impression on me at age 11. For the rest of my life, the idea of taking cover during tornadoes became an urgent matter. It was my War of the Worlds, sitting in a dark hallway with one light and the large Sears photograph/radio furniture piece blaring Carl Sanders on WAPI Radio, telling about how this Guin, Yampertown (now Twin), and Jasper had been hit.
A total of 25 people died and 250 were injured in Guin after the storm hit at 9:04 p.m., and that town was leveled, and getting a fair degree of notoriety for years.
Naturally, we drove to Jasper in time to see the damage, and it was extensive downtown due to the tornado that hit at 7:58 p.m. I remember the damage to the courthouse and the stores around 19th Street. I've heard stories about how records were blown out of the courthouse and how it was damaged in the course of the storm. I still look up to see the old clock on the courthouse, and find it strange to see some emblem covering up where it had been.
In fact, at least eight tornadoes hit Alabama that day. Tornadoes broke out throughout the country, in a major super outbreak. Xenia, Ohio, lost the most people that day, at 33 deaths.
It seems like 45 years used to be a long time, once upon a time. Now, 45 years have passed and it seems like yesterday. It was a very hard, sad yesterday, full of recovery, rebuilding, death, grief and outreach. Those who lived through it will never forget it, and many times wish they could.
• Quoting Marion County Sheriff Kevin Williams, the Journal Record in Hamilton gave more details about the death of missing Carbon Hill man Ronald Gene Humbers, 52. He was discovered about 30 yards off Alabama State Highway 233 in a pine thicket near Marion County Road 46. He was discovered at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, March 24, after a missing persons report was filed Jan. 25. Forensics in Huntsville identified the body through documents found in clothing at the scene. Williams said he visited a female acquaintance on Marion County Road 162 in Brilliant during the first week in January for a couple of days and decided to walk back to Carbon Hill. He didn't own a vehicle and walked everywhere he went, but, as we've reported, he did suffer from mental illness and didn't have his medication. No foul play is suspected and no blunt force trauma was detected.
• I had lunch Wednesday with Justin Wood, the student and family pastor of First Baptist Church of Jasper, who is a pretty cool guy. He loves restaurants, and so naturally he has loved sampling across Jasper since being hired last August. The one we went to the other day, he was still trying new items, and was fascinated how the downtown area has developed. Many people coming in from outside the city are interested about how Jasper's downtown turned around.
• By the way, we are beginning to hear about Good Friday services planned. First Baptist in Jasper will hold one at 6:30 p.m. First Baptist in Carbon Hill will hold services through the day at 9 a.m., noon, 3 p.m. and 6 p.m.