Nasty storm couldn’t slow McAlavy clan

Don McAlavy: Local Columist

“A ‘baby tornado’ formed in the Claud community, on Saturday, July 5, 1930,” according to a letter received this morning (July 9) from the correspondent of the News-Journal at Claud, 12 miles north of Clovis.

“Telephone lines were down and even the rural mail carrier could not make the trip through that community,” said the correspondent in explaining lateness in getting the story into the Clovis Evening News-Journal office.

According to the story, W. E. Clarence and Harry Charlton watched the storm break just north of the residence on the Sam Pipkin farm. A large cloud of sand and dust arose and met a hail cloud from the northwest. It was the queerest-acting storm the three men had ever witnessed, they reported after.

The wind whipped the rain and hail from one direction and then from another. West of Claud there was a fair rain. North of Claud got no rain. East of Claud there was a miniature cloudburst, and the lake on the O. E. Pattison farm was filled with more water than it had held since 1924.

There were three separate and distinct hail storms, and wheat on the Pattison, Walter Westfall and S. D. Gossett farms was completely wiped out. Many other wheat fields were badly damaged, and several farm house roofs were damaged. The storms occurred at 15-minute intervals, the first just a light one, the second heavier and the third was terrible. A hard, driving rain accompanied the hail.

The roaring of the wind and hail was deafening, as the storm broke away and swept on toward Texico. Hail covered the ground like snow until the heavy rain washed it away.

The rays of the setting sun, shining across the water-covered fields, presented a beautiful sight just as far as the eye could see, marking a “pathway of gold” similar to that seen on the ocean at sunset.

Fortunately, no one was killed.

Some 10 or 11 years later, Claud had a similar rain storm, but no tornado this time. My folks, who lived 3 miles east of paved Highway 18, had gone to town (Clovis) so my dad could buy some feed and tractor parts and my mother could do her twice-a-month grocery shopping, and most of the time did her washing at one of the “helpy-selfy” laundries in town. Of course we three kids went to see the big town, too, as we could go see the double features at the Lyceum Theater.

The sun was just going down when we reached the turnoff to head east to our home. I didn’t notice it, but my parents had seen the dark storm clouds as we left town, but we weren’t rained on. We kids of course were riding in the back of the pickup. My dad parked the pickup off the pavement and stopped on the shoulder of the highway. This was where Highway 18 turned and went west. The bar-ditches were filled with water, and there was a lot of water down the dirt road and in the ditches.

My dad got out and took a good look at the dirt road that headed east and filled with water. He turned back to us and told us to get out of the pickup and walk home. Each of us, except my little sister, carried a paper sack of groceries. That 3-mile barefooted walk to our home, we two boys sliding and falling on that muddy road, will live with me forever.

You know we were the only ones walking down that muddy road that evening after the sun had gone down. A mile down that road we passed the Claud schoolhouse. We even had to go around the “Pattison Lake” that sat in the middle of the road half a mile east of the Claud school, to get home. A time to remember.