A rare aside from hockey —
In Tornado Alley Gary England has been an Oklahoma legend for decades, and tonight he sadly retires. He began educating and warning us about severe weather, storms and tornadoes in 1972 and he quickly became an Oklahoma household name.
I was born and raised in Oklahoma and moved away during my university years, but I well remember him from my early days. Never will I forget watching the movie Twister in a Santa Monica, California theater in 1996, seeing Gary England bigger than life on the screen. Just listening to his voice that evening brought me back to Oklahoma, with all its wonderful memories — and yes, its tornadoes and storms. He grew up in Seiling not far from where I was raised in North Western Oklahoma, and as a youngster, he was one of “us” northwesterners — not only in spirit but temperament as well — calm, unflappable and comforting. He was renowned for his down-home folksy talk, and his unpretentious approach.
Upon my return to Oklahoma a few years ago I was thrilled to see my old “friend” Gary England still protecting and educating us Okies about the “the big uglies,” the dangerous storms that passed through the state. And best of all, he was still using his favorite phrase which I remember from my youth — “Jump back, throw me down, Loretta, it’s Friday night in the Big Town!”
Happy trails, Gary! We will miss you dreadfully, but you have left a huge mark on the field of meteorology. All we ask is that you drop us a few “Jump back, throw me down, Loretta, it’s Friday night in the Big Town!” on twitter occasionally. Enjoy your retirement — you deserve it.
Recent articles on our Oklahoma Weather God:
- The Weather God of Oklahoma City by Sam Anderson, August 9, 2013, The New York Times.
- Putting an Oklahoma spin on twisters by Hailey Barnson-Potts, May 24, 2013, The Los Angeles Times.