Former Westborough resident remembers 1953 tornado

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Irma Aronson smiles for a photo at the picnic tables outside Westborough
High school. (Photo/Caroline Gordon)

WESTBOROUGH — Irma Aronson recently returned to town to see her alma mater, Westborough High School, but to her surprise, the school was nothing like she remembered.

The building that once served as the high school is now the police station, and the land on which the current high school sits was once the home of the Aronson family.

“I’m lucky to have come back to see how my city has grown,” Aronson said. “One of the cool things about growing up is that you realize that every decade there’s a change. I still can’t believe I’m 95.

In the early 1920s, the family purchased the property which served as their home and farm where they held livestock auctions.

Aronson recalled the deadly tornado that swept through the city in 1953.

His family had moved before the 1953 tornado hit the farm. However, his uncle, Charlie Aronson, was still working on the farm and was killed by the tornado, along with two other family members and a farmhand.

She said Charlie used to travel out West to buy cattle for the farm. He had seen a lot of tornadoes and knew the signs when you got close.

His uncle had noticed the changing weather conditions. When he saw a tornado, he alerted the farmhands to take shelter in the barn, Aronson recalled.

One of the farmhands fled into the barn, while Charlie and the other farmhand ran into the house to alert the family. Once they gathered the family and opened the door to the house to run into the barn, they were blown away.

The farmer who stayed in the barn lived to tell the tale.

“I loved Uncle Charlie, so I was so overwhelmed; it was pretty bad,” Aronson said.

Growing up in Westborough

She recalled her time growing up in Westborough. She recalls that the town was much smaller at that time with a population of around 5,000.

While attending Westborough High School, Aronson always looked forward to the dance classes being held on Friday nights.

“We learned to ballroom dance. It was very formal, none of that rock and roll stuff. It was very special,” she said.

After a night of dancing with her classmates, she said they would head downtown to Grange Hall, which was a place where farmers and other residents could socialize, dance and enjoy other activities together. .

Once the teenagers entered the room, instead of continuing to practice ballroom dancing, they let loose and square danced with each other.

“We loved it. We were there so late,” she said.

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