Remembering the storm: Triumph over tragedy

Published 11:13 pm Friday, December 1, 2023

For a few weeks now I have been doing some research into the 1953 tornado.

With this year marking its 70th anniversary, it had been decided a while back to do a “special” edition to commemorate this fateful day in Vicksburg’s history.

Obviously, I had heard stories of the tornado; Vicksburg’s Sunday Post Herald won a Pulitzer for its reporting.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am

But it wasn’t until I really started delving into the history that I became fascinated not only with the photographs but also with the survivor stories and the camaraderie of the community.

As one of my assignments for the enterprise package, I had the privilege of interviewing Pam Mayfield and B.B. Evans who were children at the time the storm hit.

Listening to them described what they witnessed really made Dec. 5, 1953, come to life for me.

Also capturing that fated day were the stories that appeared in the local newspaper and papers from across the state, many of which were included in a scrapbook assembled by the late Ed Clark.

My mom and dad, who were neighbors of the Clarks, had it in safe keeping and let me use it for this project.

The Old Courthouse Museum was also a treasure trove of information. The museum had an original copy of the Post-Herald that had been printed the day after the storm (the edition that had won the Pulitzer Prize for the paper) ,and they had pictures they shared with me that had been taken after the storm hit.

Some of the most telling of course were the ones of the collapsed wall of the Saenger Theater where children were killed.

Paul Ingram was also kind enough to share his never before published color photographs taken by his grandfather after the storm.

Today, the city bares no scares left from the storm, only the stories and photos from that fateful day.

I hope in harkening back to this dark day in Vicksburg, we will be reminded that where tragedy occurred triumph prevailed.

You can read the stories and see more photos of the Dec. 5, 1953 tornado here.

About Terri Cowart Frazier

Terri Frazier was born in Cleveland. Shortly afterward, the family moved to Vicksburg. She is a part-time reporter at The Vicksburg Post and is the editor of the Vicksburg Living Magazine, which has been awarded First Place by the Mississippi Press Association. She has also been the recipient of a First Place award in the MPA’s Better Newspaper Contest’s editorial division for the “Best Feature Story.”

Terri graduated from Warren Central High School and Mississippi State University where she received a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis in public relations.

Prior to coming to work at The Post a little more than 10 years ago, she did some freelancing at the Jackson Free Press. But for most of her life, she enjoyed being a full-time stay at home mom.

Terri is a member of the Crawford Street United Methodist Church. She is a lifetime member of the Vicksburg Junior Auxiliary and is a past member of the Sampler Antique Club and Town and Country Garden Club. She is married to Dr. Walter Frazier.

“From staying informed with local governmental issues to hearing the stories of its people, a hometown newspaper is vital to a community. I have felt privileged to be part of a dedicated team at The Post throughout my tenure and hope that with theirs and with local support, I will be able to continue to grow and hone in on my skills as I help share the stories in Vicksburg. When asked what I like most about my job, my answer is always ‘the people.’

email author More by Terri Cowart