"Death Out Of Darkness" is a public safety documentary about the deadly tornadoes of the 11-April-1965 Palm Sunday tornado outbreak, which affected portions of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin. The film primarily focuses on the devastation across Northern and Central Indiana. Produced in 1966 by the Indiana State Police and WISH-TV in Indianapolis, narrated by Lt. Dave Levendoski. Video from visualarchivist on YouTube. There were 47 tornadoes in less than 12 hours. This was the 3rd deadliest tornado swarm in U.S. history. See Also: Ted Fujita

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Below are personal recounts of the event. They have been submitted to us by our readers. If you would like to submit your story or photos please click the link in the upper right side of this blog.

1962 Volkswagen Against the Storm






Submitted by Penny Meyers Churchill

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A girlfriend and I (we were 19 and 20 years old at the time) were on our way back to the apartment we shared on the northwest side of South Bend. We had just been to the Ready Theater in Niles, MI, and I was driving my 1962 Volkswagen Beetle. It was after 6:00 pm when we left Niles for South Bend. As we progressed south on 31 S., the wind picked up and became stronger and stronger, as rain and little pellets of hail began hitting the car. The sky became totally dark black and eerie. Suddenly, the wind began almost overpowering the car. I had to grip the steering wheel tightly and hold on for dear life while trying to steer and watch the road ahead of us, as the rain was coming down stronger than I had EVER experienced! I could only go 25 mph down the highway. All we wanted to do was reach our apartment safely! We had absolutely no idea that tornadoes were ripping through areas south of South Bend at the time. It wasn't until later that night on TV that we found out about the tornadoes, and we then thanked God for getting us back to our apartment unscathed!

There are some experiences in life that you never forget, and that was absolutely one of them!

5 comments :

  1. I had the same experience in a 1964 Beetlebug. My friends and I were coming home from the beach and by the time we reached Michigan & Angela, I had to pull over.....the wind and rain was so bad. My 3 friends and I were so scared...had no idea what was going on. I don't remember how long it lasted, but as soon as I was able, I was on the road again. We all camped out at a friend's house that evening.

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  2. VW's rule! I'm remembering the scene from "Sleeper", where Woody Allen finds a bug that's been sitting idle for centuries...and it starts right up!

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  3. I remember looking out the window to the South and seeing the large Dark area of clouds,and Mom always saying "Get to the Basement",(every time it got windy and stormy out).We lived out by Penn,so all the storms were south of us.We finally got to visit the areas ,days later like the Home on 331,and Wyatt damage and Elkhart/ Dunlap area.Stuff scattered everywhere,bicycle wrapped around a clothesline pole,(it was scary) and the Restaurant/Truck stop, on some corner,that only the stools were still mounted to the floor.Dunlap looked worse than the rest.But I was 13,so it was more exciting for me,not thinking about if anyone died or lost everything,just the Damage the Tornadoes caused. President Johnson visited the areas, I remember ....

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  4. I was 11 when twin funnels hit Toledo that night. I lived on Shoreland ave in North Toledo, my parents went bowling that night and my older sister babysat me. It was around 9:00 Pm., we were watching a movie, when the storm got worse, I remember that the wind was blowing so hard it rattled the windows, and rained so bad you could hardly see outside.
    The power went out, and I went to the huge picture window we had in the front room facing the Ottawa river, I heard a rumbling sound, the house shook, my sister was yelling at me to get away from the window, then the window broke. The next thing I remember was waking up across the street with rain hitting me in the face and a group of people around me. I had a huge gash in my face--still carry the scar today--and they took me to the Hospital. Our home was leveled, my sister suffered a broken leg.. Parents never left us alone after that.
    That was the start of my intrest in Tornadoes, which to this day I'm still fascinated with.

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  5. Penny Sines WingateFebruary 26, 2012 at 6:08 PM

    I was 6 years old and lived at Manitou Beach Michigan. My Dad had my mother keep us close to her in the living room watching Disney while he gathered flashlights, water and blankets. We lived at the lakefront and had no basement, but had a wellpit in a bathroom. My mother was scolding my Dad for scaring us three girls (ages 6 & 7 yr old twins), but he kept preparing for the worse. All of the sudden the lights went out and Dad yelled to Mom to get us all in the wellpit. I remember her husling us down the hall way, through the bedroom and into the bathroom where the wellpit was. We all squeezed down inside and just as my Dad made it to us, he had to jump in and close the lid over us and as he did I remember hearing a freight train and glass exploding. We stayed in there for quite a while, then Dad got out and instructed us to stay there. He was only gone a minute or two, then came running back and got back in with us. I remember he told Mom that another tornado was coming, but that the neighbors house was completely gone. Dad kept us in there until he knew the storms had passed. Our home had damage and no beds were available to sleep on that night, so he made us a bed on the kitchen table. The neighbor lady showed up with white paint all through her hair as her and her husband had just recently bought the home and were in the process of repainting the walls. She was crying, I remember, and said they could not find their dog. Of course, no one got much sleep that night. The next day, we were gathered up and Mom took us to a motel in a neighboring area to stay to get us away from all the carnage. I recall seeing the neighbors bathtub driven in the ground across the road and it seems there were no trees left standing anywhere. It was awful. The neighbors dog did show up before we left, with all of us thinking it was a miracle that little black poodle, also covered in white paint, survived and found his way back. On our way through the mess, I remember seeing one of the churches leveled, except a statue of Mary was still standing on a pedestal in front of where the church stood. Today, they have rebuilt the church, and that statue was mounted on the church this time! I heard that they wanted to ensure the church was safe from any further tornadoes.

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