Stormy Old Timers Day sin XENIA, OHIO

By Staff
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Some exhibits at Old Timers Day.
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Tornado damage was dramatic and extensive at Xenia.

2821 Wilmington Road Lebanon, Ohio 45036

Old Timers Days were held September 22, 23, 24, 2000, in Ohio.
The previous days had very nice fall weather with night
temperatures in the low 50s and daytime temperatures of mid-70s. We
have had lots of rain this year. The Cincinnati airport weather
said we have had 35.51 inches of rain this 2000 year, which is
above normal. The same weather station said we have had only three
days of temperatures above 90 degrees. The weather sounded a little
questionable for our reunion of tractor and engine enthusiasts.

I am a schoolteacher in Middletown, Ohio, which is about forty
miles to the south and west of Xenia. After school on Wednesday,
September 20, 2000, I drove home from school to Lebanon, Ohio. I
already had my 1938 John Deere series E, l? HP engine, 1951
‘LUC’ John Deere combine engine, and 1979 John Deere 214
garden tractor loaded on my trailer. I hooked up the trailer to my
Ford 150 pickup truck and drove twenty-three miles north to Xenia
to Green County Fairgrounds.

The weather did not look too good- It rained most of the way to
Xenia. I unloaded the tractor from the trailer and placed
everything by a great big oak tree. My cousin, Jerry McCoy, pulled
his red Dakota pickup truck along side of me under the big oak
tree. We both noticed that there were only 10 John Deeres, eight
Farmalls, one Case, one Rumely, one Massey-Harris and just a few
other tractors and engines.

Since it was raining, my cousin and I decided to go get
something to eat at 5:00 p.m. I drove my truck to the restaurant
and we returned to the fairgrounds after supper at 6:00 p.m. We
both observed the tractors coming slowly into the fairgrounds. It
was raining some, but not really enough to stop people from
bringing their possessions to the show. We both decided to leave at
7:00 p.m. and go visit our aunt who lived some three blocks east of
the fairgrounds.

At my aunt’s house the weather started to change. The
weather station on TV said severe thunderstorms. A few minutes
later the lights went out. At 7:30 p.m. all ‘HECK’ broke
loose. I watched out the east window of my aunt’s house. The
rain, wind, leaves, insulation and other unknown objects were
flying through the air. The electricity was off, but I really did
not think too much about the weather. You expect anything in
southern Ohio. At 8:00 p.m. I left my aunt’s house and went
back to the fairgrounds some three blocks away to the west. When I
got to the fairgrounds I really got the message. A TORNADO, an F4
rating with some 200 miles per hour winds had hit Xenia again.

In April 1974 a tornado hit Xenia and destroyed the town. Well,
it happened again. Barns, wires, trees, vinyl siding, and trailers
were lying in disarray. The place where my cousin’s and my
trucks were parked was covered with oak limbs. I found my trailer
covered with leaves, mud, a large dent in the fender, and a broken
taillight. The place was completely dark with no lights, some rain
and some wind. I really did not know what to do. The police, life
squad, and sheriffs were beginning to arrive. At about 8:45 p.m. I
decided to try to go home and see if my wife was okay in our house
in Lebanon, Ohio, some 23 miles to the south. I made it home and
spent a restless night trying to get some sleep.

On Thursday, September 21, 2000, I went to school, but my heart
was not in it. I had our police person who guards us at school call
Xenia to see if I was allowed to return to the fairgrounds. The
sheriff told him to tell me to bring pictures to identify my John
Deere collection. I left school at 2:15 p.m. I drove home
immediately and picked up my wife and drove 23 miles north to
Xenia. What a mess!!! The fairgrounds were destroyed. Many houses
to the west were destroyed. Walmart lost its roof. Two churches
were destroyed and many other businesses were destroyed or damaged.
I do not know all the damages, because I really tried to stay out
of the way of people. The sheriff let me into the fairgrounds. I
took two rolls of pictures of the damages. My wife and I left with
the trailer and we drove home.

When I got home I cleaned the leaves, mud, etc. off the trailer,
two engines and the tractor. I found the paint on the trailer had
been damaged, one dent and one tail light broken. I also lost a
lawn chair. I consider myself very lucky to have survived the whole

Friday, September 22, 2000, was a pleasant day. We had rain all
day on Saturday and Sunday. We received a half inch of rain
Wednesday and over three inches of rain on Saturday and Sunday. The
entire weekend was terrible. The weather did not cooperate for the
Old Timers in Xenia this year.

I spent the entire weekend painting the trailer and cleaning up
the mess. The engines were not hurt and the tractor ran perfectly
when I put it away into the barn. I went to a flea market and
bought a new tail light for $6.31. I have everything repaired but
the dent in the fender.

I have not talked to anyone from the Old Timers organization. I
would assume they would have an Old Timers tractor and engine
convention the last weekend of September 2001. The admission cost
this year was going to be $2.00 and $1.00 for senior citizens on
Friday. Anyone who brought an exhibit such as a tractor, engine or
piece of old equipment is allowed to enter free of charge. The Old
Timers encourage participation by feeding free ice cream and cake
on Thursday evening and free admission to all participants.

I hope the fair board will rebuild the buildings and plant new
trees. It will take years to replace the many oak trees that were
present. I hope everything will return to normal in 2001.

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