In the aftermath of torrential downpours and flooding endured by the Chicago metropolitan region, we know that it could have been far worse. Today marks the 46th anniversary of Black Friday, the name that symbolizes the loss of life and property caused by an F4 tornado that touched down in Oak Lawn.
Robert Kehe, manager of the Coral Theater in Oak Lawn and the father of six children, stepped outside onto 95th Street and Cicero Avenue to record the start of a thunderstorm on his reel-to-reel tape recorder.
Lorraine Swanson, local editor of Oak Lawn Patch, uncovered a tape recording of the devastating tornado and created and "Encore" feature story about that tragic day.
Instead he captured the sound of the worst tornado ever to hit the immediate Chicago area, which many believed immune to twisters because of its close proximity to Lake Michigan.
For five terrifying minutes, Kehe recorded the sound and the fury of the Oak Lawn Tornado as it hurled overhead in an east-northeast direction three blocks north from where he stood in front of the Coral.
In the end, the tornado would claim 37 lives. In five minutes time, it wiped out huge swaths of the community, including the Jewel grocery store, which was packed with customers shopping for Easter dinner that year. Homes and schools were completely destroyed.
Turn to Oak Lawn Patch to hear the actual Voice of a Tornado.
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