most people who lived in Oregon 50 years ago this week seem to have a personal tale to tell about the Columbus Day Storm of Oct. 12, 1962.
They describe where they were and how they felt, in much the same way that most people throughout the nation vividly remember one year, one month and 10 days later, when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. Among those in their 70s or older, the even more inescapable memory is the shock of the news on Dec. 7, 1941, that Pearl Harbor had been bombed by Japan’s air forces, catapulting the country into the horrors and triumphs of World War II.
The storm itself was a losing battle of sorts against Mother Nature as men, women and even children fought their way through the gale home to their families, battened down their personal hatches as best they could and then watched breathlessly and helplessly as the ferocious wind toppled trees and sent roofs, signs, sheets of plywood, garbage cans — and even lightweight people — flying through the air.
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