News of the violent windstorm that struck neighborhoods in northeast Baltimore and Parkville early Wednesday caught the eye of Mark Adams, who recalled a similar storm that struck just a few blocks away in June 1973. Here's Mark:
"I lived with my parents on Loch Raven Blvd. in those days in a semi-detached house. I remember this because we had adjoining neighbors, Max and Carol Haenel, who had the most discreet terrier I have ever known. I used to feed him when they were on vacation.
"The dog's name was Scruffer. This dog never barked. I thought he was mute. Max lived as a single man in an apt. before he married. He explained to me that dogs were prohibited in his old complex so he trained the dog to never bark.
"One day, the skies were getting strange as they do in Baltimore and old Scruffer started barking. It was the only time I heard him bark over a period of several years. Later that night we watched the news reports of a tornado hitting Deanwood Road, near the old Loch Raven Kiwanis' pool. Scruffer was alerting us to the danger. My guess is the old tornado site is about 3,000 - 4,000 feet, as the crow flies, from the site of yesterday's damage."
Mark's memory is pretty good. I asked Sun librarian Paul McCardell to search our files for a storm matching Mark's description. The clip he found was a story published June 17, 1973. It describes a tornado that struck the Hillendale area of Baltimore County at about 5:45 p.m. on June 16.
"There was a brief moment of calm, followed by powerful winds and an intense rainfall," The Sun reported. "Many persons watched through windows of their homes in horror as trees fell and roofs were ripped apart."
"'I felt a little pressure and then I saw the roof disappear,' said Sam Flannery, 27, who lived on the top floor of the three-story Pelham Wood Apartments, at 33-35 Dowling Circle."
Dowling Circle is located about three-quarters of a mile north, and across the county/city line from Fleetwood Avenue, where some of the worst damage was done Wednesday morning. The Sun's account continued:
"Mr. Flannery, his wife and two friends were drinking beer after a round of golf when they heard wind rattling a chaise lounge on the balcony. Mr. Flannery said he looked out the window and saw what seemed to be the start of the twister."
"'I saw wind form a funnel 30 to 50 feet in diameter. It was swirling around,' he said. and everyone ran toward the bathroom for safety when the roof flew off."
The story goes on to relate that the entire roof was lost from the Pelham Woods apartment building, rendering 15 apartments unlivable and showering the neighborhood with debris. The power was out across the area. Two young men in a car on Loch Raven Boulevard near Dean Street found themselves airborne when the tornado struck. Their car flipped upside down and flew over the median.
"'The best way to describe it is the scene from 'Wizard of Oz' when Dorothy was knocked unconscious and everything was spinng,' said the passenger, William Doyle, 23, of the 5900 block of Yorkwood road.' Both men were treated for minor injuries at St. Joseph Hospital and released."
Windows were blown out as far as half a mile from the center of the destruction.
"One witness said the funnel passed over his home about 100 to 200 feet in the air. 'There was lumber and all sorts of debris, and it suddenly just dropped everything over a two- or three-block area," The Sun reported.
Fire, Civil Defense and Red Cross personnel responded to search the area for injured victims and gas leaks and to provide assistance. In the end only two people were reported injured by the storm, the newspaper said. "In addition, a woman who arrived home to find the roof of her apartment gone and her son missing went into shock, officials said." Her son turned up safe and later joined his mother at the hospital.
A photo published with the article showed a long row of three-story apartment buildings on Dowling Circle, with heaps of broken roofing material in the yard. It could have been taken yesterday.
(SUN PHOTOS: Bottom: Julie Scharper. Top two, tree downed and utility pole snapped on McLean Boulevard at Westfield, Frank Roylance)