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Fact On Energy Newsletter

Sara Mosle NLSD Book Deal 12/1999
The Lives Unlived in Newtown 12/2012
  Abilene Reporter-News - Sunday, July 11, 1999  
  Kilgore’s East Texas Oil Museum
by Pamela Percival
  [excerpt from article]

In the nearby small community of New London, stop for a vanilla coke and a piece of homemade buttermilk pie at the London Museum and Tea Room on Highway 42 across from what is now the West Rusk school campus. The tea room features an old-fashioned soda fountain and weekday lunch specials like chicken and dumplings and roast beef. If you order from the menu, expect overly-generous helpings of mayonnaise on almost anything unless you specify differently.

The tea room was opened several years ago by volunteers to help finance a small museum dedicated to the more than 300 people who died in a cataclysmic explosion at the New London School in 1937. The museum opened a year ago, thanks largely to the efforts of volunteer museum director Mollie Ward.

Ward was 10 years old on March 18, 1937 when, while sitting on a school bus outside the New London School, she saw the building explode and crumble into pieces. The tragedy of the explosion rocked the community, which because of the oil boom going on at the time, had the distinction of being the richest rural school district in the nation. The explosion, caused by a natural gas leak in the school’s basement, also touched people across the world. Sympathy telegrams poured in, including one from "Adolf Hitler, German Reichs-Chancellor." His yellowed telegram is displayed in the museum near an oral account of the explosion’s aftermath that was recorded by young newsman Walter Cronkite who had just been assigned to the Dallas bureau of UPI news service.

Ward tries to take each set of museum visitors on a personal tour of the facility, sharing her extensive historical and personal knowledge.
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