Growing up in Judsonia
Judsonia, AR 72081

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Subject: Ramona Bloodworth Callaway: Growing up in Judsonia.

Growing up in Judsonia was wonderful for me.  My life was great, I had everything I ever needed or wanted: family, friends, school, and church.  My life was great for sixteen years and my future was already planned.  I would marry a Judsonia boy, have a son, then a daughter, and twin boys.  I would live in a white house with a white picket fence and surely live happily ever after.

March 21, 1952 the class of '53 was excited.  It was prom night.  Some of the girls went to Searcy to decorate the Mayfair Hotel where the prom was to be held. We were so excited that we hardly noticed the dark, heavy clouds hovering over head.

I rushed home to shower and get dressed in my beautiful pink lace formal.  Rex Bell was my date and would be soon arrive.  It wads a very special night for me and my family.  Grandmother Bloodworth came to spend the night and to see me all dressed up.  My parents, Arthur and Elizabeth Bloodworth, my brothers, Jim, who was twelve and baby Terry were there.  Mrs. Dumas and Pake Knight both had apartments in our house.  All eight of us were oblivious to what was going on outside.

I was in the shower. There were no NOAA weather radios, no warning system, and no way to know what was about to happen.  Mom screamed for me to get out of the shower.  I grabbed Dad's robe that hung on the door, leaving my new ping formal hanging there.  Barefooted, I ran into the dining room.  It was 5:34 when a tornado hit with such force we saw a huge tree blowing down the street.  The house next door was hit, pealing the walls away to show the furniture sitting undisturbed.  Dad screamed to get in the small hall in the center of the house.   All eight of us held on to each other till the storm passed.  It was so quiet and still and very dark.

Grandmother had a bad cut on her hand, Terry has a skinned place on his nose.  Everyone else came through without visible scars.  In shock and terrified, Dad sent us next door to the Graves' home because it was still intact.  Grandmother went to the hospital.  Mom and Dad left to check on family and friends.

So many injured, many dead, we had never seen or heard of such destruction.  The horror of the tornado went much deeper than the physical damages of our homes, churches, school buildings and stores.  At that moment our lives were forever changed.  Everything was gone.  My innocence, security, joy, peace, and dreams.  Nothing would ever be the same again.  There was so much damage that I didn't recognize my sleep little town. Piles of brick and trash were everywhere.

A few days after the storm Rex and I attended a mass funeral.  Twenty friends, classmates, and neighbors; people I had known all my life were gone.

Fast forward sixty-one years: I am no longer that sixteen year old full of hope and dreams.  Life Happened.  Good and bad.  One part of my dream came true, I did have the twin boys I had hoped for.  They are and have always been a gift from God.  

Many from the class of 1953 have passed on but those who are left have a deep bond of love.  They feel like family.  We have buried some of our classmates and attended 50th wedding anniversaries for others.  For others we kept vigils at the bedside of those who were ill and wept as some buried their children, spouses and parents.  We've come a long way and lived a long time,  but my heart always longs for Judsonia; small, safe, HOME!

Oh, my beautiful pink lace dress, I did get to wear it .  The Jr. - Sr. Class in Augusta invited our class to attend their banquet.  But, somehow, it just wasn't the same.



Submitted with permission from Ramona Callaway by: Wanda J. Rackley