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  Sharing Information (Page 3)
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  Guest Posts and Emails  
     
  2001-2005

In this section there are unedited excerpts from the guest book as well as from email I have received.
 
     
  I'm the oldest of four daughters of Ted Hudson. Daddy was instrumental in spreading the news" of the tragic explosion within a few hours of the event. He was the first "news" person on the scene. He was the owner of the newly-opened radio station in Henderson. He arrived with transmission equipment in a "bally-hoo" wagon - panel truck - usually used for making publicity tours of the town with commercial messages booming from speakers mounted on the roof. Daddy found a dangling phone line, connected his equipment, and began broadcasting from the scene from a stake-bed truck, calling for emergency workers, equipment, doctors and nurses, and ambulances by dark on that first day. After about 70 hours on the air, he ended with bulletins to friends with car radios directing singing groups and preachers to funeral services all over East Texas. He and a friend had flown over the site in a plane from Henderson airport, and he went back to town , loaded what equipment he needed, then drove to New London, hoping there would be some way he could help. His life- long ambition was to broadcast "coast-to-coast". Nine years later, he died in the crash of his own plane, at Powell, TX.
Much has been made of the presence of Walter Cronkite as a reporter from Houston, but it seems to me the newsworthy presence was the reporter on the radio who spent many hours locating specific people and tools to help those in need. In my family, this is equal to the broad- cast of the explosion of the Hindenburg, in New Jersey. It seems a shame that this "first" has been almost lost.
Daddy was always interested in promoting talented youth in our area. He was an accomplished M C and herded groups of dancers singers and musical groups all over the oil field - right up till WW II. The radio station had been sold shortly before the war, and Daddy went on to other endeavors, but what a way to have your hearts desire ! !
Randolph Harris owned one of the only cars with a radio, and he and Daddy helped with funerals as long as needed. The plane flown over the site belonged to another friend, Ross Illif, an automobile dealer in Henderson at the time.
Somewhere there is a picture of Daddy on that stake-bed truck with his microphone, doing what he did best, helping out whenever he could. I'd love to have a copy of the picture.

Mary Lou (Hudson) Powell
December 3, 2005
 
     
  Hi I just wanted to share this I live about 5 min. from New London School and I had a substitute Teacher (Mrs. Gordon ) who's Mother was a teacher at New London and she lucky thanks to her class did not get killed She and her class were on the 2nd Story when she got under her desk and told her class to do the same One Boy Stood up and said NO And jumped out the window her class followed then also did the Teacher. Her and her class survived. And also This teacher Niece who was a student at New London School well on march 18, Had complained and said she didn't feel good at all and that she felt sick. Her parents allowed her to stay home that day. everyone in her class were Killed that day. I'm Sorry I'm not sure on any names. Also does anyone know which nursing home mrs.leverett is in????

November 11, 2005
Brent Keith Fleming
TxLonghorns81891@cs.com
 
     
  In 1938, I was in the forth grade in Seagraves Texas. We had a new boy in class who had moved from New London. The day of the explosion, he and a friend had played hookey the day of the explosion. They were sitting on top of a hay stack about a mile from the school when it blew. Bricks were flying over their heads. He was afraid his mother would give him a spanking so he ran home and hid in the coat closet. His mother found him as she was grabbing a coat to go to the school. I don't remember his name. Thought you might be interested in hearing about the good side of hookey. That is the extent of my 69 year old memory.

November 10, 2005
Bill Choate
Palmdale, Calf
 
     
  My Daddy's name was Robert Williams. He died in 1970. Daddy never spoke of the explosion to my knowledge but my Aunt Ivonell and Uncle Buff told us all about it. It happened on My Daddy's birthday and he had skipped school to avoid the belt line. When he left that morning he yelled back to the house that he was going fishing. My Granddaddy told him he better get to school. Granddaddy really didn't mind him skipping under the circumstances. My Uncle Buff had just gone out to the band shack to get his band uniform for some completion that was going on when the school exploded. My grandparents, as I'm sure everyone was, were struck with fear that their two boys had perished. Grandmother was at the beauty shop in town when it happened and ran with her hair still wet to find her sons. She was knelling between two cars praying when my uncle found her. Moments later a man told my Daddy that his mother was looking for him and where she was. I can't even imagine how she felt to see her darling boys unharmed. My Daddy worked all night helping the other men get the bodies out. I have thought so many times how he must have felt pulling his school mates and friends out of that hell hole. Daddy started college that September at Texas A&M but had to leave due to the stress of the hazing. My Grandmother and Grandfather never spoke of the tragedy (most people didn't) and they had no idea the stress my Daddy was under. Grandmother said after what Daddy had seen on that horrible day that he could not take the cruelty of people. He almost had a nervous breakdown.
They say this changed my Daddy. However he was the most wonderful man I ever knew.
Thank you for your web site, it's helped me and I wasn't even there.
I have a picture of Daddy the morning after the explosion that a newsman had taken. It speaks about how Daddy had worked all night with the others. Once again thank you for your passion.

October 20, 2005
Becky Collums
 
     
  I had a brother A J Thompson in the class of 43 who still lives in Tyler. He was the only one in the building that fell but I also had two others in school at the time of the explosion.
My mother and Dad were there as soon as they could be to help. I was in the class of 53.
There were five of us boys and we lived where the old Bunker Hill school had been. It was about two miles from the school.
My Mother still lives in Tyler by herself "by choice" .She is 95 and recalls allot about the disaster. We were very fortunate to have All the family intact. We did lose several relatives some Thompson, Maxwell, Barber, and Coopers, were all related to us on my dads side of the family and were considered pioneers of Rusk county.

October 16, 2005
Harvey Thompson
Ducknbullpoochie@aol.com
 
     
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  I lived about 4 miles from New London in 1937.
When the school exploded, my mother, brother and I were playing about 4 miles away and heard the explosion. My dad John (Blondie) Bowen was a roustabout for Midstates Oil, and rushed to help in the rescue efforts. I was only 4 at the time, but remember him when he came home. It seemed like he worked straight through for about 3 days and nights, without any rest. He was totally wiped out when he got home, and it was the first time I saw him cry. I remember seeing newspaper photos of the rescue workers, and dad was in several shots. Mom kept them but our home burned down in 1943 and we lost them. I have visited the museum twice once with my granddaughter, and once with my wife. It always brings tears to my eyes to remember the kids who died and the gallant efforts of the oilfield community that rallied around to aid the living and excavate the victims. I September of that year I entered school at Gaston. I went there for 3.5 years before we moved to Prague, Oklahoma.
I also visited the Gaston museum when I visited the New London museum.

October 13th 2005
Kenneth H Bowen
kbowen@pdq.net
Pearland, TX
 
     
  My father was one of the many men that went to help at the school on that day. My mother was in labor and about to deliver my brother at the Wheeler Hospital and watched as the ambulances brought in some of the injured from New London. It is a shame that the school changed it's name.

October 9th 2005
W. M. Thedford
Tyler, TX
 
     
  My mother was Jimmie Pauline Nailon (Nation). She had two cousins who were twins killed in this explosion. She showed me a picture of them when I was a child. I don't remember their names and mom has since passed away.
If anyone knows their names please email me.

September 5th 2005
Dr. Calvin Nation
nationjcn@aol.com
 
     
  We just buried Jimmy Ray Bonner on the 18th of August at Oakwood Cemetery in Waco, next to his father, mother, sister and brother. His brother, George Atmon, and sister, Oneita, perished in the New London explosion. Jimmy didn't go to school that day. Instead, God chose him to go on and attend college (Texas A&M), join the Navy and become a Golden Glove boxer (he was supposed to be on the USS Indianapolis, which was torpedoed and sank during WWII, but was boxing for the Navy instead), and even went professional for a while. Then God decided he should start a family. H e raised 3 wonderful children (my husband Bucky, my beautiful sister-in-law Janna, and Brenda, who passed away several years ago as the result of a tragic car accident).

It's hard to understand why children have to die before their parents, but Paw Paw and Maw Maw kept George Atmon and Oneita alive in their hearts and soul, just as Brenda has been kept alive in the hearts of many.

While Jimmy was certainly a survivor of this horrible accident (his life proves it), he has finally gone home.

It's been nearly 70 years since this tragedy occurred, but finally Jimmy, George Atmon and Oneita can once again play together and with Maw Maw and Paw Paw they can finally be the family they once were. And Brenda can now spend time with the family that loved and missed her so and meet those she never knew.

This is a great website. The pictures alone are priceless. I will share this site with the family - it's a wonderful memorial to both the victims and the survivors. I'm glad I found it. Thank you for your devotion and dedication. May God bless us all.

August 23rd 2005
Leesa Bonner
Port Aransas, Texas
bucky@bboutfitters.com
 
     
  My dad , Dan Mendell, Jr. was with Humble Oil and arrived at the scene moments after the explosion. Does anyone remember him?
He never once talked to me about the New London disaster. I think it was too horrible for him to talk about.

August 7th 2005
Jerry Mendell
Zavalla, TX
shane654321@aol.com
 
     
  My dad , Dan Mendell, Jr. was with Humble Oil and arrived at the scene moments after the explosion. Do you have any record of him in any of your papers? He never once talked to me about the New London disaster. I think it was too horrible for him to talk about.

August 7, 2005
Jerry Mendell
Civil Engineer, Humble Oil
Shane654321@aol.com
 
     
  I am directly connected to the New London School Explosion. My father William Clifford Barber survived the explosion; his brother "Ollie Bell" died in the explosion, his sister Ruby Viola Barber had her back broken in 5 places. She survives to tell the story today. My Aunt Helen Barber was at home sick that day. My Aunt Ruby told me that my daddy ran all the way home from the school to Hwy 323 to tell Mary Barber, his mother there had been an explosion. I saw my cousin, Debra Corpora in Rockport this weekend. She told me that Sara Mosle` has written the book, "A Generation Died", it will be released within 3 months.

July 31, 2005
Tonia Jane Barber Mashburn
Arlington, TX
janeycat@sbcglobal.net
 
     
  My granddad and my great uncle was two of the rescuers. My Granddad died October 5th, 2003 My Great Uncle Died on Iwo Jimia in World War 2. I do know that My Granddad did say that my Uncle did everything that he could to save as many people as he could he was a firefighter if I am not mistaken and My Granddad was a Police Officer and they both responded that dreadful day My Granddad didn't say very much about it I guess it upset him just thinking about it but maybe there names will be honored in the movie that is being made My Granddad's Name was Luther Alton Mathis or also Known as Tiger Mathis My Great Uncle's Name was Donald Mathis I would appreciate it if you would put these names on the Memory list of the Rescuers.

July 16, 2005
Matt Mathis
New London Tx
 
     
  Hello, My name is Linda Kay (Walton) Barr. I was raised just outside of New London in the oil-field and attended New London (West Rusk) school. My father, W.H. (Sonny) Walton was one among the hundreds in the oil field who helped to dig out and clean up after that horrific explosion. He never spoke much about it, simply stated that of all the terrible things he'd seen in his life, that was the hardest and most awful thing he ever had to do. He loved children and seeing all that death and destruction was I think almost too much even for a strong man like him. I commend you on this site and for striving to keep alive the memory of all those who were killed that day. And thanks also for bringing to the rest of the world the knowledge that people who have been flippantly called" Oil Field Trash" were good, hard working, God fearing people who cared about their neighbors even if they didn't know them personally!! This was a tragic place in time ;however, the joining of forces by all involved was a tribute to the greatness of the people in our small part of this very big world. I have lived away from New London for many years, but my heart is still there and I am trying to get moved back as well. Again, Thanks for the memories!!

July 28, 2005
Linda Kay (Walton) Barr
 
     
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