Across the road once stood Levi Leonard’s ‘Blast from the Past Big Foot Park.’

A little storm came through Coosa County in January changed the park’s appearance but left Leonard’s home intact.

“My wife and I went to town to get groceries,” Leonard said. “A sheriff was sitting up there and said ‘Y’all can’t go home; a tornado been down through there.’”

Leonard and his wife found a way home that afternoon.

“It missed the house,” Leonard said. “I had a big pecan (tree) and it blowed it down. There was a dead pine tree; it blew down on my house but insurance took care of it.”

While the tornado spared the home, the Coosa County native lost his homemade park.

“It tore my park up, but I was able to save some stuff,” Leonard said. “That storm blew all that stuff down but it didn’t break nothing. What I did was I brought it all out here.”

Leonard started moving pieces he could salvage just across the road to create “Big Foot Park” next to his garden. Leonard moved his creations like Big Foot, Peg Leg Annie Disco Dancer and others from the old park. He was even able to salvage wood and tin roofing he used across the road. The area of the new park was cleared by the tornado.

“You see that metal there,” Leonard said. “It took my shed and blew it into the woods. It didn’t bother my truck or my gas tank right there.”

One thing Leonard is proud of is his display demonstrating how clothes were washed.

“This is how my ancestors lived,” Leonard said. “They took the clothes out of a pot and put them on a batting block and beat them, then put them in another tub with a washboard.” 

He is even digging a new pool although this one is smaller. In the last park, Leonard said he couldn’t fill it because it was too big. And all of it is next to his garden he started before the tornado came through in January.

“Turnips, you plant them the first day of January and potatoes you plant in February and you can plant corn in February,” Leonard said. “I go by the (Farmers’) Almanac. It tells you when to plant. Most folks haven’t broke their garden up. A lot of folks wait for the ground to warm. There are a lot of things you can plant in the winter.”

Leonard has already harvested collards and some potatoes. He has tomatoes, peppers, peas, beans, okra and corn growing. He also has some ribbon cane.

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Levi Leonard recalled using a pick to ready parts of his garden back in January and February.

“I got two rows of it,” Leonard said. “I sell it. I can’t eat it because I ain’t got no damn teeth.”

Leonard is amazed he can still do all he has done at 87 years-old.

“I get to looking at all this stuff and I don’t know how I did it,” Leonard said. “All this was grass. I took a pick and took all this grass out.”

Leonard hopes another tornado doesn’t take out his work again. Given his age he hopes he doesn’t see another but the latest trend doesn’t bode well.

“A week or two later (after the January tornado), a damn ‘nother one come through here – not in the same place but close,” Leonard said. “I hadn’t seen so many damn tornadoes in Coosa County in my life and I am 87 years old.”

Cliff Williams is a staff writer for Tallapoosa Publishers.

Staff Writer

Cliff Williams is a staff writer for Tallapoosa Publishers.