Photos of the Oak Lawn Tornado

Below are a few photos from my personal colection in the few days after the twister struck. In addition, please go to this site. This is the Oak Lawn Public Library’s Flickr Photo Set of the Oak Lawn tornado.

Oak Lawn High School After The 1967 Tornado


Intersection of Southwest Highway and 95th Street in Oak Lawn, in the few days after the town was struck by a deadly tornado. Sixteen people perished at this intersection waiting for the stop light to turn green.


21 Responses to Photos of the Oak Lawn Tornado

  1. Larry R. says:

    This brings back memories. I was a member of the Lansing FD and responded to the fire house on that day. We had an old 12 cylinder LaFrance that was used for mutual aid calls at that time and that was the equipment that we sent to Oaklawn. Myself and fellow firefighter Bill Smith rode outside on the back step from Lansing to Oaklawn via the Ill. Toll road at 60 mph in a downpour. When we got close , we had to stop and add oil to the engine. That old truck was really pounding, It took 6 quarts of oil to at least get a oil pressure reading.
    A long time ago, but some memories never go away.

  2. George H. says:

    I remember it well. I was to have had a ballgame that evening at the Little League fields @ 99th & Central. Instead, I recall being awed by the armed National Guard soldier, posted on the corner; forbidding non-residents entry into town. The corner of 95th & Southwest Highway was also home to the bus barn, with buses strewn about like toys in the tornado’s wake. I understand that they are STILL uncovering debris from that event; used at the time as landfill, during Oak Lawn’s growth years.

  3. Adam Zart says:

    I was 4 years old and lived two blocks from 95th and southwest highway in 1967 when that storm hit. Our garage was in the neighbors yard. the neighbors houses on either side of us were so damaged the were burned down by the fire department. I will never forget the sounds that tornado made. Looking at the pictures still gives me goose bumps.

  4. Joe C says:

    I will never forget crouching near my Grandmothers picture window at her house on Southwest hwy, just across from the catholic school, and praying hard! The blackness was tangible! I will never forget that day, or the fact that it took my father three additional days to get clearance to drive down Southwest hwy and pick me up. Driving away from the scene was horrifying, all the destruction, it was almost too much to take in. Seeing that the little flower shop next to Grandma’s house destroyed, along with twenty more down Southwest hwy really makes one feel lucky to be alive! I am always worried to this day when sirens fire up during bad storms, makes me cringe!

  5. Paul S. says:

    I have so many memories of that day! I remember that it was the first day of the OLCHS spring play and I was going to stay at school instead of going home, but I found out you had to have a suit jacket for opening night. I went home and was eating a tuna fish sandwich when the storm hit. The quiet, the green, the noise and then, the blackness were all consuming. After a bit, my cousin came down and said he was going up to the high school to see if he could help and wanted to know if I would come with. I said yes, and we jumped in his car and headed up there. The destruction was almost too much to bear! I had NEVER seen anything like it. Tree limbs were sticking straight up in the ground, driven there by the storm. I remember that there was a 2×4 sticking out of the side of a house at about a 60 degree angle!

    When we got up to the high school, it was jaw-dropping! I couldn’t believe it! The Red Barn Restaurant was gone, the gas station on the corner was gone, everything was in such a state of devastation. My cousin and I helped the firemen pull people from the wreckage and I remember thinking that I could have been up here.

    I came across a car that had been blown into the football practice field and when I looked in the car, all I saw was blood! I was freaked out and pretty numb from then on that night.

    Later that week, some of us got out of classes to help clean up the mess. We were assigned to tree duty. A guy with a chainsaw would cut pieces off and we would haul them over to a waiting truck.

    I will never forget that day or the aftermath.

  6. Roberta Hollister says:

    I was 13 at the time of the Oaklawn tornado and although I lived in Tinley Park, it is a day that was permanently etched in my mind. There were severe storms over the entire area and the sky was green. I had family living near the area, as well as close friends. I vivedly remember the worry until we could reach our loved ones who lived near there. It was horrible listening to the reports of children my age being killed in the grocery store and skating rink. I experienced two other tornadoes and possibly a third during my childhood. The area used to be called tornado alley.

  7. Shirley says:

    I was 8 years old at the time. We lived at 88th and Ridgeland and I remember my mother had me posted at the front window to watch for a tornado. My sister was 4 months old and my 5 year old brother was in a body cast. I spotted the tornado and my mother put my brother and sister, one under each arm, and we ran to the neighbor who had a basement. I can still hear the sounds and feel the wind whenever I think about it! It was absolutely terrifying, and the memories are still as vivid as though it all just happened yesterday.

  8. Brian Jennings says:

    Today, June 4, 2011, Oak Lawn again experienced high winds, albeit only 70mph this time. Mother nature took a several hundred pound branch from my tree and speared the windshield of my formerly pristine car. I now live 1/2 mile from the corner of 95th& Southwest Highway. Although I was only seven at the time and we lived nearly 5 miles away in thse days, I vividly recall the’67 tornado. I hid in the basement with my mom. A man who did carpentry for us named Bill, had the misfortune of being at that intersection at that moment. He died along with many. A sad, bewildering moment for a kid who had watched every move when Bill the carpenter had finished the basement of our home.

  9. Save Ferris says:

    I was 17 when this tornado hit. I lived in Beverly but I was picking up my cousin from oak lawn high school as I attended a school that got out a couple hours before hers. I remember being about 4 blocks east of sw hwy on 95th at a light, maybe even as east as Ridgeland. I remember feeling the life drain out of my legs and body and feel like I can’t get there fast enough and feeling hopeless to get there and what I was seeing. Luckily she was okay but I know many others were not. I pray for all of those kids.

  10. cathy krupa(mayton) says:

    i was 11 years old and i still remember when the tornado went up my driveway and didnt touch my house but hit 3 other house

    • Eileen McCarty says:

      Hi Cathy,
      I lived down on 91st and Major. I knew your brother Gary from St. Gerald’s.
      I think my brother Terry played little league ball with him.
      Yes, it just missed our house too. It was a traumatic event that you always remember. I had to go to St. Nicholas Greek school my 4th grade, while they rebuilt the school.

  11. Nancy Schwab says:

    I was 16, junior at Mother McAuley H.S. at 99th near Pulaski (also called Crawford in those days). I was taking driver’s ed. We had to go to Bogan H.S. (79th & Pulaski) after school to use their car simulators for this week of the instruction. That day we thought about getting some sliders at White Castle on the corner before getting on our bus to head back south to 99th or 103rd St. I am guessing it was about 5pm.
    We thought it looked like rain. (No one said anything about a tornado. I had no idea what a tornado was) So we didn’t stop at White Castle.
    When we got off the bus at 103rd & Pulaski. I remember the dark pea-soup green sky, the noise and people inside the gas station screaming for us to come inside. I was hanging onto the light pole! The noise sounded like a freight train. It was deafening. After it was over and just raining I walked the mile down to Kedzie and then to 107th St. where I lived. Found out my dad and brother were out during the tornado looking for me.
    I heard that the next bus from 79th and Pulaski heading south, the one behind ours, was lifted and dropped in the cemetary (St. Mary ?).
    I also remember our school was closed for at least a week, body searches at the Oak Lawn Roller Rink, the National Guard blocking people from entering Oak Lawn which was directly across Pulaski from Brother Rice H.S. Many McAuley and Rice students lived in Oak Lawn.
    This was quite a year!: McCormick Place burned down in Jan., Biggest Snow ever in Jan. (missed a lot of school for that too) all in 1967.
    WLS put out a record of all the newscasts. I had it – can’t locate it.

  12. Susan Culp says:

    I remember this tornado all to well. I was just 6 years old and my parents put my four brothers and our dog in the hallway. The sound was so loud that was enough to scare me. After it was over, my dad and mom took us to see the damage and it was so horrible to see what it has caused. Our family may have been lucky not to have been injured but to see the school a block away and the grocery store, that entire intersection wiped out was unbelievable. Tornadoes can take one and leave another alone. No words can describe the loss of so many personal things and people. I hate storms to this day.

  13. Nancy Sparling Jordan says:

    I was in the high school when the tornado hit. We were in the Red Barn just minutes before hand. We got down on the floor in the hallway and water, and bits of wood, and stuff came flying down the hall. I had on a brown tweed suit. I couldn’t get my locker open because the lights were out and I couldn’t see the numbers on the lock. So I couldn’t get my raincoat. I remember thinking that my suit was going to be ruined.

  14. Martha Grieashamer says:

    I was 12 in 1967. I remember getting home from public school about 15 minutes before the sky started turning black with a green stripe under that. My mom was looking out the door and kept saying, “I don’t like this…I don’t like this…” Then the rain hit so fast and hard you couldn’t see across the street. It poured, hailed, and then it stopped. I lived in Chicago (NW side) but we heard minutes later about the Oak Lawn tornado. I’ve been terrified of tornado watches and warnings since then.

  15. Gene Skala says:

    We lived very close, about 4 blocks from where the tornado touched down (Southwest Highway & 95th). I remember how strange and scary the sky looke. It was a sickening pea green color. The sirens were going off. My mother was panicking. Then it just looked like a very dark gray ash cloud was everywhere. The last thing I saw from the picture window before we hid for safety, were things flying around the yard — branches and a raingutter that was torn from a house. I vaguely remember hail. Whenever I see the sky turn that wierd green color, I get nervous, but otherwise, I’m not very concerned about tornados. They’re rare enough around Chicago and the suburbs.

  16. Dan Mack says:

    Though I was very young, I have very specific memories of this day. Our family home was at Ground Zero – 103rd and 81st Court in Palos Hills – and I was all of like two-and-a-half. My room faced west, and I remember seeing a phone trunk through the window whipping back and forth like a Twizzler as blue electric light flashed. My mom rushed me down into our cellar (I have a specific memory of a red plastic dial on the water heater for some reason). She later told the story of having to pull my dad from the front picture window where he was transfixed watching the funnel go by. We didn’t get much damage, but we were very close to where things started and got serious, and a neighbor’s garage just across our yard was blown to bits.

  17. Mike says:

    I was 7 and lived in Hickory Hills. I was at a friend’s house. His name was Brett Lee, and he lived on Forest Lane at the top of what we called the horseshoe. I lived on Forest Lane at the bottom. When it got real dark and stormy out, Brett Lee’s mom told me that I had to go home, so I left their house. It started raining like crazy so I ran as fast as I could. I have never felt a rain like that. It was driving and furious and the sky was dark and it was extremely windy. When I got home I was thoroughly drenched. My mom was waiting for me in the garage and I thought I was in big trouble for being out in the rain. But she was freaking out about the tornado in Oak lawn that she was hearing about on the news. I remember seeing the damage to the High School and the Red Barn. My mom would go shopping at the Hi-Lo food store on SW Highway. There was a dry cleaner next to the Hi Lo and a bakery I think. She often dropped me off at the Hometown Library. So we would drive by the places that were damaged at least once a week.

  18. Greg K says:

    I was in 5th grade in April, 1967, at Lincoln School in Freeport IL. Even that far away from Belvidere and Oak Lawn the sky was so black in the middle of the afternoon that the ceiling lights in our classroom had to be turned on to see well enough to read. It was also so humid that I was sweating in class just sitting there.

  19. J.Willett says:

    We lived at 99th Place and Pulaski. I was 9 and my sister 12. We didnt know about a tornado, we were outside the house playing in the wind. Mom got us in the house and we found out, got crammed into the hall closet with Gramma sitting in her blue chair. Dad came home from work late with insulation all over the car from a firehouse, I guess, that got hit.
    Amazing time!

  20. MARTY Cosentino says:

    Lived at 4912 spring road remember like yesterday I was 10 years old . It was a beautiful sunny day then sky’s turned gray then green . We where watching from our driveway window it got so still no wind . Tornado was coming our way but hit the star lite drive in screen and bounced of then hit oaklawn HS then went down southwest HWY TO CICERO AVENUE WHERE IT HIT THE ROLLER RINK THATS THE SPOT WITH THE MOST DEATHS . After atom it turned beautiful outside my mother and I road out the storm in a ditch in front of our house . I’ll never forget that day .

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