Tornado causes extensive damage in area 65 years ago

The Lester Gatzke home at Wykoff was carried through the air 40 feet and set down in the middle of the road. PHOTO COURTESY OF ROCHESTER POST BULLETIN.
By : 
Mary Jo Dathe
Glimpses of Yesteryear

We have in hand the Spring Valley Tribune for May 14, 1953, which details the tornado that caused so much damage.  Coming from the area of Chester, Iowa, and going in a northeasterly direction, it leveled buildings in Cherry Grove and touched in Wykoff and Chatfield around 6 p.m.  One person, Otto Jeche, was killed.  Summing it up, one person was killed, three hospitalized, 19 families affected, five homes destroyed, 28 buildings destroyed and eight buildings damaged.

Other news?  The PTA will hold its final meeting of the year; the Luther League is rejoicing in the first use of their new building for three one-act plays.  Bloodmobile will make its fifth visit --  blood is needed for glamma globulin to help fight polio, the wounded in Korea, and for civilian use at home. A total of  240 donors are needed each at Chatfield, Lanesboro, Wykoff and Canton.  Spring Valley residents go to Wykoff where Loren Jorris is the chairman.

Bennington 4 H Club square dance performs at Austin, accompanied by Mrs. Ben Snyder and Mr. and Mrs. Walter Lenz.  Mrs. George Wagner and pupils at Hardscrabble School toured the Hormel plant in Austin and enjoyed dinner.  First English Lutheran choir members held a cooperative dinner to honor Paul Imm, leaving this week for military service.  Etna Eagles 4 H Club held a meeting featuring the members’ mothers, and planning a trip to Cedar Lake.  Mr. and Mrs. Arlow Grabau held dinner to honor their parents, Mr. and Mrs. Bart Bender, on their 30th anniversary.  

Kiwanis President R.M. Gustafson pointed out that Harold Biel had not missed a meeting in seven years.  On the program was Dr. Clark, attorneys John Brin and Gordon Lundberg.  Legion met and elected officers:  Harold Alred, Clarence Kohn, Earl Born, S.H. Marberger, Don Overholt, Dr. E.M. Morse, Neal Mathers, Walt Babineau and Ken Churchill.

Notice: The Board of Health, W.H. Peterson, M.D., announced the annual clean-up event.  The Saddle Club said it was expecting 100 to show up for the lunch at Masonic Park, leaving at the sales barn. A retreat was held at St. Ignatius, with young people in attendance.  The Fillmore County Garden Club is to meet at Greenleafton with a plant exchange and demonstration on flower arrangements.    Postponed because of storm related events: a union meeting of the 4-H clubs at Methodist Memorial Church -- of the Bloomfield Bluebirds, Etna Eagles and the Thriftyville Workers. 

Partial page ads:  Hatley Motor Co. - Ford - repairs and lubrication; watch repairing under Harry Johnson; Jack Sprat Food Store -- gelatin desserts, three for 21 cents, ground beef - 33 cents per pound.  Grain Belt beer - "America's Party Best"; Burgess & Sons; the Wykoff Nite Club; Meyer Motor Co. featuring the Oldsmobile, "Rocket can mean money in your pocket" and G.M.C. trucks at $1,599.95.   Marchants had the "auto-lite" "sta-ful" tractor batteries; Gamble's the Coronado TV priced from $179.95 (free home demonstration, aerials of all types).   Warning:  "roofing gyppers are at work" - Deal with the “home boys" - Gamble's, Ralph and Dick Bergan; Sears Roebuck; Burgess & Sons, Callaway Lumber. Co.

There was a BIG ad for Studebaker Commander LS with overdrive...attributed to no one.  And a big ad titled "Accident?" - by Northwestern Telephone Co.  Rendahl & Highum Elevator: semi-solid "E" Emulstion egg mash and chick starter plus Miner-a-zene sheep mineral blocks;  Gustafson Tire & Appliance Service; Lundby's Inc. - used cars - 1940 to 1951; Sward Kemp Drug - Rid X for septic systems; The Spring Valley Furniture & Floor Coverings -- 4.88 square yards; free estimates;  power mower at $69.95 (regularly $99.50) from Gamble's; Determan Rexall Drug -- special on diabetes supplies; Sears Kenmore tank type or upright cleaner - $57.88; Marshall Wells with Lawrence Hansen —  anniversary sale; and Lundby's Chevrolet trucks.

Sande's Implement - used machinery; water conditioner (uses no chemicals) - Maurice Turbenson; Bertalots Shoe Repair - get combine and binder canvasses repaired;  Keim's Skelgas heavy duty bulk gas; chicken brooders - Callaway Lumber, American Breeders - F.J. Doubek, local technician; gas stoves and installation - call Alinks - Coast to Coast Store; American Breeding - Harold Rolli and Wm. Jahns - fee $5 per cow.  Plus: Foodland Market - roast beef - 45 cents per pound;  Red Owl, 31st birthday sale - cake mixes, three for a dollar, brown sugar 2 lb. for 27 cents.

For entertainment:  At the Terp Ballroom in Austin -- Henry Busse, the Trumpet King & Orchestra; $1.33 plus tax.  

One last note:  Fred McManus, confessed killer of two Spring Valley women (at the Four Winds Cafe) is  declared sane and will stand trial, with folks demanding justice.