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By Linda Emley
The Orrick tornado of 1967 didn’t do as much property damage as the recent one, but it did claim the lives of two young boys at the high school.
The Richmond News ran the following Jan. 26 that year: “Another Tornado Death. The Wind that hit Orrick on Tuesday has taken a second life. Danny Kent Blyth, 15, a freshman at Orrick High School, died at Ray County Memorial Hospital at 3:30 Wednesday afternoon. Blyth was in the Vocational Agriculture room, which was completely demolished by the tornado. He underwent emergency surgery for head injuries at the hospital here Tuesday afternoon.
“Danny G. Barber 18, a senior, was killed by debris that fell on him in a corridor of the storm-wrecked school.”
Another article of the same page gave more details about the tornado. “Tornado Round-Up. Electrical service in Orrick and vicinity was off for a relatively short time Tuesday afternoon, considering the damage caused by the tornado, which struck the area shortly before one o’clock. Fifteen poles were broken and down, the electrical lines were down in numerous locations, Chal Young, area supervisor reports. Missouri Public service crews from Richmond, Lexington, Warrensburg and Liberty were called in and worked through the night and day Wednesday.”
Many of the newspaper articles from 1967 sounded like they were written about the 2014 storm.
Two local families were hit hard in 1967. “Second round for Nails. The Donald Nail family for the second time in two years has lost everything they own. Two years ago, when they lived north of Orrick, a fire destroyed their home. When they re-located, they moved to the house south of the school which was destroyed by the tornado Tuesday. Mr. Nail is employed at Lake City. They have four children all school age.
“Shower for Mayers. A miscellaneous shower for the J.D. Mayer family will be held Monday night, Jan. 30 at 7:30 p.m. in the Methodist Church basement. The Daughters of Wesley are sponsoring the shower, and everyone is invited. Mr. and Mrs. Mayer lived in an apartment above the Crossroads store, which was demolished Tuesday when struck by a tornado.”
If anyone would like to learn more about the 1967 Orrick tornado, there are many more pictures and stories in the 1967 Richmond News that is located at the Ray County Museum.
Every time I open an old newspaper, I find another story I want to share. The following story is one of these stories.
Richmond News, Jan. 6, 1967: “Year of Activity, Cited by Lake City. The Lake City Army Ammunition plant, where many Ray Countains are now part of a work force of nearly 10,000 employees, is the largest ammunition plant in the free world.
“The following account, describing how in one year manpower on the job at Lake City nearly tripled, was released by the plants public information office.
“At Lake City Army Ammunition Plant, the year 1966 will be remembered as the year of Activity. There were approximately 3,800 employees when 1966 began. As the ammunition production requirements rapidly increased, the need for workers at Lake City also increased.
“Although many additional employees were needed in a relatively short time, recruitment, except in rare categories, was no problem. Men and women in the greater Kansas City area, and surrounding communities, hastened to file applications for employment, and the combined work force of government and Remington Arms Company Inc., employees increased until the end of December employees totaled 9,914. Many of the new employees had been former Lake Citians working either in World War II or the Korean emergency. The end of the year found many employees working on a three-shift operation six days a week.
“Currently the monthly payroll approximates $7,000,000 and the annual payroll for 1966 exceeded $56,000,000. The production rate was accelerated until in November it exceeded the number of rounds produced at peak operation during the Korean emergency, and with fewer employees than were required at this time.
“Initial production of 5.56-mm ammunition was begun during the year, and at the end of the year production included Caliber .30, Caliber .30 Carbine, Caliber .50, 5.56mm, 7.62 mm and 20 mm ammunition.
“Lake City is the largest small arms ammunition plant in the free world and produces more ammunition than the rest of the industry combined. Lake City produces such high quality ammunition that it is considered as a standard for other producers.
“As production increased, the contract with Remington Arms Company, Inc., for production, maintenance and operation was supplemented several times, which added $152,447,361. Items purchased or procured by contract by the installment amounted to $121,776,200. A substantial part of this procurement was local purchases.”
In 1967, the Vietnam War was raging overseas so I assume it had something to do with the increase in business at Lake City. I was talking to a friend who served in Vietnam and he told me while he was in Vietnam he looked at one of his bullets and found the Lake City Ammo stamp. He said he remembers wishing he was back home in Missouri instead of in the jungles of Vietnam.
Once again we are reminded the more things change, the more they stay the same because 47 years later, we are still fighting a war overseas and we still live in tornado alley.