SURVIVOR STORY: Katherine Mastin - WDRB 41 Louisville News

SURVIVOR STORY: Katherine Mastin

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Although, I was "Blessed", in the fact that my home was not one that was hit, it was still a, very, traumatizing event for me, and one that I shall never forget!

I was 23yrs. old, and home alone with my barely 2yr. old son, and my almost 6mo. old daughter. My daughter was in her crib napping, and my son was watching "Bozo"* the clown on TV. I was in the process of potty training my son, at the time, so had just put him up on his potty. I was in ear shot of the TV, when out of the blue, I heard "Bozo" tell all of the boys and girls to go get one of their parents, or an adult to come to the TV, that he had something important to tell them. Fortunately, I had a bathroom near a TV, so I could hear his announcement and keep an eye on my son. "Bozo" said that there was a tornado on the ground and that it had just hit the Fairgrounds. I did not have a basement in my home, so I called a neighbor down the street to see if she happened to be home from work, and if I could bring my children down to her basement. Luckily, she was, and said to just hurry and she'd leave the front door unlocked for me to come on in. She had her children downstairs already.

So, in a panic, adrenaline kicked in, and I hurriedly got my son off of his potty, pulled his little pants up and put on his shoes so he could walk, since I would have to carry his little sister, etc. Then I was rushing around gathering diapers, baby bottles, and anything that I thought that I might need for both of them and throwing everything into a diaper bag. All while I am doing this, I am aware that the tornado is on the ground and I am shaking like a leaf.

I had a little poodle, at the time, too, but knew that I couldn't manage both of the children and her, so I had to just put her in the bathroom and shut the door. I hated leaving her, but felt that I had no choice. I just knew that I needed to get my children to a safe place, and quickly!

I wrapped my daughter up, took my son's hand, and loaded them and the diaper bag into the car. I was shaking so much that it was difficult to get them buckled in, but finally heard the clicks. When we arrived at my neighbors house, I could see the tornado as it was heading towards Brownsboro Rd., I guess, when it was hitting Northfield. There were some other neighbors that didn't have basements on the street, so they were coming to take shelter in her's, as well.

After I felt that the children and I were in the safest place that we could be, I starting thinking of my husband and that he, most likely being worried about us, didn't even know where we were. It took quite a while before I could reach him, but finally was able to put his mind at ease, and as soon as he was able to make it home, he picked up my little poodle and came down to my neighbors house. I, feeling drained from the whole experience, felt a sigh of relief, because I had all of my little family together, and we were safe. My parents had always told me that when a tornado hit that there could very well be more to follow, so we all stayed down in my neighbor's basement until we all felt confident enough that the danger of that occurring had passed. It had been a long trying day, and we could finally go back home!

Once home, I put the children to bed, saying prayers over them, and thanking "God" that "He" kept us safe from harm. Then, I looked at my husband and said that we need to move, ASAP! I told him that I need a home with a basement, because I never wanted to have to take our children out of their own home, in order for me to feel that they are safer in another, especially during a tornado warning, and most importantly with one on the ground!! Two weeks later our home was up for sale. We had a new home built, in the same subdivision, with a full basement, and moved in November of 1974. Soon afterwards, we finished 3/4 of the basement and whenever we had even any Tornado Watches at night, we just all slept downstairs, just in case.

Time has passed, my children are grown, have homes of their own, and their father and I are no longer together, but my two dogs and I still reside in the home that we had built almost 40yrs. ago, due to the Tornado of 1974.

The ironic part of my story now, is that one of my dogs is too old and heavy for me to get downstairs, in case of a tornado. Some people have told me to just put her in the bathroom, shut the door, and for me to take the other one downstairs with me, but I can't do that. My dogs are like my children now!! If I had a handicapped child that I couldn't get downstairs, I sure wouldn't leave them upstairs by themselves, in order for me to be protected. (Like in the Military, too, leave no one left behind.) As a result, while I'll still be quite nervous and afraid, I shall be staying upstairs, in my bathroom with both of my dogs, whenever we have a Tornado Warning. I simply "PRAY" that we don't have ANY, and if something should happen, people shall remember that I always did my best to keep all my babies, whether two legged, or four legged as safe as I could, which is what any good mother would, or should do.

*Note: "Bozo" was actually "Presto" -- a clown who hosted a children's program called "Funsville" every weekday on WDRB in the early 70s.

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