Six Mile shares memories of devastating ‘29 tornado

SIX MILE — Bill Holder remembers when his mother saw the commotion in the direction of the small town of Six Mile on March 13, 1929.
“My mother said the world was coming to an end,” Holder said last Tuesday night as the town of Six Mile held a service commemorating the devastating tornado that hit the town that night.
The tornado ripped through town, claiming the lives of nine Six Mile residents and leaving Six Mile with a feeling of loss that continues today.
Holder and his family took the family wagon into town to see the damage the storm had caused.
“Houses, nails … everything was in the roadway,” he said. “People everywhere were hollering ‘Help me! Help me!’”
One of the victims who cried for help was Holder’s best friend, he said, but by the time Holder was able to reach him, his injured friend was dead.
“I still haven’t gotten over that,” Holder said. “I’m 95 years old — will be 96 in June.”
Holder remembered the town’s people gathering to work to save as many of the storm’s survivors as possible.
Holder recalled one child impaled by a board, and Dr. David Peek working diligently to safely remove the board.
Holder said he and his wife have been married 72 years and have enjoyed life in Six Mile. He said the town came together to help the storm’s victims that tragic night, which showed the character of the town of Six Mile, promising those who come to visit his home town “You’ll never want to leave.”
Holder noted a change in philosophy from the old days.
“Parents would teach their kids back then,” Holder said. “Now the kids teach their parents.”
Despite the rescue efforts, nine did not survive the tragedy. Eula Mae Baker Garrett and her daughters Mildred (13), Licia (10) and Evelyn (7), and Nelson Garrett, his wife Mamie and their three children J.C. (18), Bertie (13) and Edward (11) were all buried together in two graves in the Six Mile Baptist Church cemetery.
Tom Garrett attended the meeting representing the Garrett family.
“I appreciate what the mayor has done for the Garrett family,” Garrett said.
Garrett said the tragedy affected his grandfather, Tillman Garrett. He remembered his grandfather as being active in the church music program.
“He always said he played by ear,” Tom Garrett said. “And he did have big ears.”
Garrett said his father and grandfather never talked about the tragedy. He remembered his father as active in the Six Mile community.
“If ever there was a true champion and community leader, I think it was my dad.” Tom Garrett said.
Tom Garrett said that his father would always put red roses on display at Six Mile Baptist Church on the Sunday nearest March 13 in honor of the Garrett family members who were victims of the storm. He said his father also drove the church bus.
“I run into people today who say they wouldn’t be in church now if my Dad hadn’t driven that bus back then,” Tom said.
The Rev. Ray Longenecker of Six Mile Baptist Church noted that “the worth of a man is in what he gives away.”
Longenecker said the town of Six Mile is blessed to be able to look back and share memories from the incident.
“Yes, there was loss of life,” Longenecker said. “But there was also the gift of life.”
Longenecker said he was pleased to be able to look back with his neighbors at this historic night.
“I am proud to be a part of the town of Six Mile community,” Longenecker said.
A resolution that will be placed in the town records was passed out to those who attended the service of remembrance.
The resolution opened with “We are in this world for a limited time, and with the breath of the infant begins the race to the grave. A race everyone must run.”