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Trivia Question

Who was President Eisenhower's Democratic Party opponent for the 1956 presidential election?

Tornado Trials & Tribulations

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In the upcoming issue of Good Old Days magazine, writer Byron D. Augustin shares with us his mother's ability to forecast a coming storm, even in the middle of the night. She would startle awake to the sound of their screeching windmill shifting in the wind, roust all of her children, and shoo them into the safety of the basement where they would commence praying. Nothing bad ever seemed to happen, so Byron's brother questioned the reasonableness of his mother's actions.

While Byron's family lived in Nebraska, his childhood weather experience was similar to mine in the flatlands of Ohio. Spring meant another opportunity for my fireman dad to lecture us on tornado-warning response and give us strict instructions on what to do and where to go. This was critical in his mind as he was often away from home during bad weather -- he could be found sitting in a fire truck at the edge of town, trying to spot funnel clouds so the tornado siren at the fire station could be triggered if needed. 

There was only one problem with my dad's emergency response scenario: We didn't have a basement. Taking shelter in a storm meant hauling ourselves across the road, past the feed mill and through a stone parking lot to Clete and Frieda's house. Clete was also a fireman, so he would be out tornado-spotting as well. The safety of our families fell to our mothers.

My mom did not want to "impose" on Frieda until absolutely necessary. My dad knew this all too well, and would phone home to check if we were still there, stalling as he predicted. After several increasingly frantic phone calls from my dad, the six of us would (reluctantly) head out. Once we were ensconced in Frieda's basement, next to her wringer washtub and her vats of lye soap, we rocked in old rocking chairs and said prayers until the storm passed and Dad made the "all-clear" phone call.

Today I have my own basement to retreat to, and the tradition continues. There have been many instances when I have heard a howling, train-like noise in the middle of the night, rousted my children and shooed them to the safety of our basement, where we would commence praying. We've had only one close call, thank goodness. The last time we frantically took cover, my kids grumbled and questioned the reasonableness of my actions, saying nothing bad had ever happened to us. I wish I would have responded the way Byron's mother did: "Precisely. Now fold your hands and bow your heads."

'Til next time,

Mary Beth Weisenburger,
Good Old Days® magazine

PS. Were your parents or grandparents good at predicting weather? How did you escape bad weather in your Good Old Days? We want to hear about it! Send a brief response to me at and it could appear in a future update or in Good Old Days magazine! Below is a response from the April 27, 2016, update question: What sentimental items from the past are you keeping and will probably never get rid of?

Carol S. shared: "I have two items that my mother wore in the 1950s. One is a white cashmere cardigan with a white fur collar. She often paired this with a hand-painted black-velvet circle skirt. The skirt has the required crinoline underskirt attached. Of course, these have no place in today's wardrobe, but they have made appearances at many '50s 'oldies' parties over the years. Mom was quite elegant, and when I was in high school, she was often taken for my elder sister. We both loved it, and I still like to picture her as we were then."

Mary Beth Weisenburger has been with Annie's since April 2011. She has 25 years of experience in the marketing, advertising and publishing fields. In addition to her job as editor of Good Old Days, she has been writing a family humor column for over a decade. She and her husband, two college-age kids, two dogs and various other critters live on five acres in the country, where she enjoys reading on the back porch, refinishing furniture, feeding the birds and digging in the dirt of her perennial gardens.

Fill out the easy feedback form and let me know your thoughts, questions and ideas.

Trivia Answer

Adlai Stevenson. President Eisenhower was so popular that there seemed to be little doubt that he would run for reelection until a heart attack in September of 1955 caused concerns about his health. His physician later announced Ike was capable of serving a second term, so in February of 1956 he announced his plans to run again. His opponent was Democrat and former Illinois governor Adlai Stevenson, whom Eisenhower had defeated in 1952. Stevenson proposed increases in government spending for social programs and treaties with the Soviet Union.

Find out more about the fashion, events and popular culture of America in the Live It Again book series at, featuring the best of The Saturday Evening Post!

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