Dorothy and the Tornado

I am going to tell you about my first memory, but first let me tell you about this image. I found this while reading another blog, Weather Will. It was taken by a very talented photographer, Adam Baron, who shoots with a goal of augmented reality and seeks to achieve the illustrated, painted look as well. This image was probably pieced together by taking different shots, putting them together in the same scene and then creating the details, giving it that heavy illustrated look. His stuff blows me away, and you can see more of it at

So, let me just tell you why this photo struck a cord with me. Besides the fact that I have had a lifelong love with The Wizard of Oz, I have also been in this very position. More clearly, this is my very first memory. “No way,” you say. Yes, way, actually.

The very first memory I have is when I was 3 years old. I don’t remember everything from that night, but I remember certain parts almost vividly. I wasn’t standing outside with a very cute gingham dress on, nor was Toto in my arms (I always wanted a Toto). However, I was standing in our dining room, looking out the big glass door, watching my dad’s barn fly into the sky. I think my comment to my parents went something like, “The barn is gone.” They said that my eyes were as big as they could go, and I’m pretty sure I was in a trance—maybe some kind of little kid shock. It was that moment that we knew the tornado was really at our house, and my parents jerked me up to take me to the safest place in the house. One of my dad’s friends was also there that night, so we huddled in the bathroom for safety. We made it, but my dad’s barn did not.

I could talk all day with you about tornadoes. I’ve grown up with them, and we were used to running to the big closet downstairs. But, you never get used to the damage that it sometimes causes. Our house was hit a couple of years ago (whole other big, long story), but the damage was nothing that couldn’t be fixed. My parents were actually trapped outside when it happened. The pressure was so great that they couldn’t get the door open. It was amazing for them to see it and know how blessed they were to be spared, and it became even more of a reality when they went down the street just half of a mile to a community that looked like it had been hit by a nuclear bomb—same tornado, where not everyone’s homes were so lucky and many traumatized.

Here’s some very short footage of that actual tornado.

My grandparents’ home was hit just a few weeks ago, causing significant damage, but they are working on getting things back to normal. Additionally, my sister, the aspiring broadcast meteorologist, just got back from chasing tornadoes on the Great Plains. Go figure. :) She was always the one that got mad when I would wake her to tell her that if we didn’t go downstairs that very moment, we were going to be blown away. I was never dramatic as a kid (sarcasm).

In the same way that I have a mild obsession with great white sharks, I also have with tornadoes. It’s weird because, like great whites, I am terrified of them. On the other hand, I am also really intrigued by them—what makes them work, why do they happen, how do they miss this house but destroy a community a half mile away? I’ll never know, but as long as I’m in the South, I’ll definitely have to deal with them. So maybe this obsession has something to do with my first memory, the thing that stuck and that had impact. If I ever do get stuck flying in a tornado, I hope that I get to see some fun things like Dorothy.

“It’s a twister, it’s a twister!”

Sara Beth Parks is a designer, Southern girl, and lover of all things beautiful, currently writing of her journey with art, design, and life on this blog, “My Latest Buzz.”


  1. bill parks 06/03/2010 / 1:08 pm

    good stuff. very accurate. thanks for sharing it with me.

    bugscuffle billy

  2. Anne Elise Parks 06/06/2010 / 8:47 pm

    Ha.. Our family has definitely had our fair share of tornado experiences! And yes, you did always love to wake me up from peaceful night’s sleep when the slightest thunderstorm came our way.. What can we say– you’re a protective big sis! :)

  3. Will Simmons 06/07/2010 / 6:59 pm

    Thanks for the mention about my website! I enjoyed reading about your tornado experiences. Weather is extremely intriguing–always changing and still unpredictable. So why did I choose to study it? Ha.

    After reading through a lot of your clever blog, a few things:
    Italy is well worth the wait and very inspirational.
    I, too, play the violin. I actually played in my sister’s beach wedding this past Saturday. I played “pretty stuff” at the beginning, but when they walked out… I fiddled Cotton-Eyed Joe :) That stuff is so much more fun than classical….
    I love your writing style.
    Great domain name.

    On the way back from storm chasing, we stopped at y’all’s house in New Albany and I saw some of your work. Very nice!

    • sbparks 06/30/2010 / 1:46 pm

      I thought I responded, and I didn’t! Thanks so much for your comments, Will!! I appreciate it so much! I think your blog is rockin’ too, by the way. :)

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