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  In this section there are unedited excerpts from the guest book as well as from email that's been received. Please remember these are unedited and posted as received.  
  Guest Posts and Emails  
  I am Ilan Goddard. My grandfather was Sam Bunting. He lost his sister Noama Bunting in the explosion. I am trying to find information on one of the doctors who helped save my grandfather's life. In a chance meeting, actually met the doctor who remembered saving my grandfather. I was a waiter at the retirement party for the doctor but I do not remember his name. It was probably 15 years ago in Tyler at a restaurant called "Tracey's" which, at the time, was Tyler's only 4 star restaurant. He was a doctor at Mother Francis Hospital which is where my grandfather was treated. I would be extremely grateful if you could help me in my research. Any forwarding or posting of this letter to any person or site would be appreciated.
My email address is
Thanks again for all your work and assistance.
August 5, 2007
  I attended New London School kindergarten thru 4th grade - 1937 to 1942. My name was Betty Major & we lived on the Hale oil lease between New London and Henderson. At the time of the explosion I was not quite 5 & did not start kindergarten until the fall of 1937. I remember my mother hearing the explosion and being concerned. My dad helped with the rescue efforts all night that first night, but never talked much about it. My elementary school years were filled with much talk of the explosion.

3rd Grade - 1940-1941

Betty Keyes
Garland, Texas
June 2007
  Dear Mr. Grigg,

Thank you for your efforts in recording and sharing the story of the New London School explosion. I grew up in Rosebud, Texas. My mother, who was in grade school in 1937, shared her recollections of news reports of the disaster on several occasions. In my early career, I visited a college friend who lived in New London and recall it being a somewhat typical small Texas town. Unfortunately, I did not have time to explore.

I am presently a Senior Compliance Officer with the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division. I often interact with utility companies and we have had many presentations and discussions about the odorants used in natural gas. I seemed to recall this practice was started as a result of the New London explosion. A Google search led me your site where this was confirmed.

Last week, a utility company laying fiber optic cable hit a gas line less than a half mile from my home. The telltale smell of mercaptan caused the gas company to evacuate nearby residences. As firefighters were ventilating a residence, an explosion occurred destroying a $400,000 home and damaging the one next door. Windows were blown out while still in their frames, doors were blown off the hinges and the garage door landed across the street. But, no one died. Evacuated residents were watching from a safe distance down the block and four firefighters, who were inside the home at the time, suffered only minor injuries. They knew what they were dealing with due to the presence of the odorant (and their gas monitors) and wore maximum protective gear.

The New London School Explosion was a terrible tragedy but its legacy of reforms and safeguards has helped to save countless lives over the past seven decades. Now included among those are several of my friends and neighbors.

Best Regards,
Owen R. Smith
Canby, Oregon
April 24, 2007
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  I was in 1st grade in Tyler when this happened. I lost 2 cousins (Lillian & Allene Anderson) and can remember my folks sitting by the radio all night listening to reports from New London. I can recall that the sirens never stopped.

Benny Kirkendoll
March 20th 2007
  I was in 1st grade in Tyler when this happened. I lost 2 cousins (Lillian & Allene Anderson) and can remember my folks sitting by the radio all night listening to reports from New London. I can recall that the sirens never stopped.

Benny Kirkendoll
March 20th 2007
  In 1999, I had the privilege of writing the first historical documentary on the New London School explosion, New London School: In Memoriam, March 18, 1937, 3:17 P.M. I spent several weeks there in New London and the surrounding areas getting to know the people and listening to their stories - an experience that truly changed my life. Each March 18, I set aside time to think about the folks there and honor the memories. The genuine compassion, heroism, courage and strength was - and remains - inspirational. God Bless the people of New London, Texas, and as always, thank you again for allowing me to tell your stories.

Lori Olson White
March 19th 2007
  My aunt, Lucille Damuth Laughlin lost her sister Jane in the explosion. My father B.B.Watson was one of the young men who volunteered in the aftermath. He never spoke of it but years later my aunt Janell Silvey told me about his participation.

Tom Watson
March 19th 2007
  Like many others, I too have heard the story of the New London School Explosion. My Father Adus F. Dorsey, my uncle Loy E. Dorsey Jr. and my aunt Joyce Busby were students at the school when the accident took place, all survived.

While growing up I spent every summer in East Texas, and as sure as summer would come around every year I could count on hearing the story about the New London School from my grand mother Nona M. Dorsey.

Surely it had to have been an antagonizing moment for my Grand Mother when the news arrived that the school had exploded, especially hearing about it before knowing if her only two children had survived, or not. What I remember most about my Grand Mother telling and re-telling the New London story was the intensity that she always had in her voice. I understand now, that it was her ability to be able to talk about it that helped heal some of the pain I know she must have felt that frightful day March 18th 1937.

As far as my dad Adus F. Dorsey, I do not ever remember him talking much about it, but I know it must have affected him deeply.

After only now reading through some of the history of the New London School explosion, I think I have found a clue to part of my past that I have always wondered about. Reading that the Scottish Rite Hospital played a role in caring for the victims in 1937 could be the very reason my father was so active in the Masons, and always made a huge effort to provide assistance and service in the Scottish Rite ranks.

I have much to be grateful for being a son of a survivor of the New London School Explosion. My heart and my continued thoughts go out to all that were involved. Have a wonderful time at your reunion.

Adus F. Dorsey II
Torrey, Utah
March 14th 2007
  My cousin, Margaret Belue (Now Wilborn) was one of the survivors of the disaster, and my aunt, Ethel Belue, was one of the parents at the PTA Meeting. I had heard stories about this all of my life from my late aunt, and wanted to see the site and get more information.

Sam Lynch
March 16th 2007
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  My grandfather (Bill Thompson) was in the fifth grade at New London and survived the explosion. He switched seats with a girl (Ethel Dorsey) so that he could sit by a girl that he liked. That day, that little girl took the place of my grandfather dying and is one of the reasons I am here today. My Grandfather's name is Billy Gene Thompson and I am so very grateful he survived that terrible disaster and is still with me today!

Melissa Thompson Musselwhite
March 17th 2007
  My grandmother, Doris Mize (Shoemate), is attending the reunion this weekend. She was just spared by this tragedy, walking out of the school as it exploded. She was thrown several feet from the school and injured but survived. Her sister, Sammie Lee Shoemate, was not as lucky. According to the stories from Memaw (Doris Mize/Shoemate) and Papaw (Doris and Sammie's Father) took 7 days to find and identify Sammie's body. Many tragic stories from this explosion. Doris was interviewed about this tragic can read her story in Texas Monthly Magazine March 2007 addition.

Our Angel Sammie Lee-
There's nothing I can say,
except a loving prayer
That God will bless you dearest one,
and keep you safe in his care.
And in my solemn sorrow,
there is nothing I can do,
except to live a better life.
In memory of you

This handwritten poem was found amongst Papaw's (Doris and Sammie's Father) keepsakes.

Brandye Mize
March 17th 2007
  I'm 81 years old and remember the day - I was playing baseball at Rocky Mount School (3 miles from N.L. School) in center field and the ground shook then came the sound - everyone on the field froze in place then continued the baseball game - when school was out and at home found out thru the radio of what happened. My dad, mom, sister, brother, & I drove to Overton as many injured were taken there - every one got out of the car except me to walk to hospital - to this day I don't know why I stayed in the car - my brother & sister were younger than I. A girl at Rocky Mount had a brother at New London & and he came out of the with two girls under his arms (one alive & one wasn't). Things we remember!

Wilmer Black
March 18th 2007
  I was in the second grade at Pine Tree Elem. School (now I think in Longview), TX. My father and his friends were "roughnecks" for the then Magnolia (Mobile) Oil Co. who went to dig through the the school rubish. Late that nigh they returned to our house and as a child I listened to their story. What has stayed with me these seventy years is that night these men who lived up to their names, "Roughnecks," CRYING, to the man. THANKS FOR THE THIS SITE IN MEMORY of those who lost their lives!

Jimmy Moffett
March 18th 2007
  My great aunt, Mary Priscilla Carney, was a seventh grader at the New London School in 1937.

She was down in the basement getting her sweater when the explosion occurred. There was absolutely nothing left of her. My great grandmother (Priscilla's mother, Effie Maude Carney-Blackwell) who lived until I was 17, never recovered from the loss, or from her guilt at having made Priscilla go to school that day when Priscilla complained of headache and nausea (no doubt due to spending time in a building that was slowly filling with natural gas).

My grandmother, Katherine Carney, was in the third grade at New London School that year. Her class performed for the PTA meeting that afternoon, and those performers were allowed to leave school early with their parents. Katherine was about a block away from the school with her mother when it exploded.

I was raised on the story of how narrowly we all missed the possibility of never existing.

Although young Katherine later died in the polio epidemic in the early fifties, she lived long enough to do one important thing...give birth to my mother (Rebecca Ann Solomon). My mother is now 56 years old, and she has had four children, myself being the oldest. Two of her children (myself and my immediate younger brother) now have children of our own, ranging from age 2 to age 12. Earlier this year, I gave birth to twins as a surrogate mother, and although those children do not share my DNA, they most certainly share this part of American history.

I have learned to impress upon my children that all of the things they accomplish in life are possible because Katherine Carney--a woman who died so young even her only child has no memory of her--performed for the PTA that day in March of 1937.

Tomorrow, the family of my surrogate twins are coming down from Virginia for a visit, and we plan to take them out to visit the monument in New London.

Minette Satterwhite Trent
Jacksonville, TX
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