The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

March 4, 2012

I know it's a sign, but a sign of what?

By Kelly Kazek
kelly@athensnews-courier.com

— As many tornadoes as I’ve covered over the years, I’ve heard of and seen many odd and unexplainable things: Splinters of wood piercing seemingly impenetrable materials such as metal and glass, pieces of paper that travel 150 miles before dropping to earth and eggs unbroken on a kitchen counter where every other item is demolished.

On April 27, the county was littered with brand new Wrangler jeans that were made at the factory in Hackleburg that was in the path of the EF5 twister that devastated Limestone County. My daughter Shannon took a photo of her friend’s SUV that had a 2-by-4 threaded into and back out of its windshield and the glass was still intact.

I heard more strange tales after Friday’s tornado: A pet boxer named Storm who was blown from his pen and into a neighbor’s swimming pool (see story on page 13A), and a door blown from its hinges, into a hallway and around a corner, coming to rest upright and unscathed by the dining room wall (see photo on page 19A).

But on Friday I witnessed one of the strangest things I’ve seen in the aftermath of a twister. As reporter Jean Cole and I drove along Mooresville Road taking photos of damage and interviewing those whose home were hit, I stopped at a house whose yard was littered with uprooted trees and debris.

Suddenly, I spotted a sign wrapped around one of the fallen trees. The sign was for a toyshop and party place called Shenanigans, loosely named for Shannon.

I recognized it immediately because it once hung on a business I owned on U.S. 72 in Madison — a business that closed 11 years ago and whose sign was subsequently removed and supposedly discarded.

I owned Shenanigans for four years before closing it, giving birthday parties in one half of the store and selling classic toys in the other. In fact, the carousel I owned with cast-iron horses is now owned by the Lions Club Kiddie Carnival in Athens.

I loved running the business and the children who had parties there.

I was surprised and mystified at the sign. Where had it been for 11 years? How did it end up on Mooresville Road, at least 15 miles from where the store had been located?

If anyone knows anything about this mystery, give me a call at 256-232-2720, or send an email to kelly@athensnews-courier.com. Feel free to send your own tales of freaks of the storm and I’ll write a follow-up story.