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  Recollections/Emails (Page 6)
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  Abercrombie, Clotiele B.
Abercrombie, Loyd D. Sr.
Abercrombie, Virgie Blalock

Armstrong, John
Bain, Pamela
Bento, Lola
Box, Dorothy Womack
Campbell, Lu
Holbert, Pearl Shaw
Challis, James E. "Ike"
Cole, Beaver
Coleman, Howard
Cronkite, Walter
Degnan, Julie E.
Duch, Greg
Erikson, Charles Henry
Ezell, Alta Reigh
Farrell, Hal
Gregory, Doug
Grenley, Martha Rogers
Grigg, Horace
Grigg, William N.
Hannon, Bill
Harris, Howard
Johnson, Joe and Bobby
Kronjaeger, Jim
Lester, George
Lester, George - Playmates
Lummus, Darlene
Lummus, Don
Martinez, Nelma Cummins
Mayhew, Bessie
McAllister, Mark

Meissner, J. Raymond
Moody, Mildred
Motley, Pete
Nelson, Ron
Plant, Sally
Platton, Mike
Read, Osceola Jefferson
Robertson, William Judson
Robinson, Jimmie Jordan
Mack Thornton Rogers
Ryan, Terri Jo
Seacrist, Debra
Shaw, Marjorie
Stanley, Glenda G.
Taylor, Bob
Taylor, Jim
Thompson, Bill
Vail, Mary Lechtenberg
Vento, Eduardo
Vinson, Allen Earl
Vinson, Melvin
Williams, William B.
  Hal Farrell Remembers  
  I was a four year old boy from Overton, staying temporarily with my grandparents, George W. and Mazzie A. Lang somewhere around Selman City. Grandpa "took care of several oil wells" out there and pursued his hobby of making miniature oil wells in his shop behind the house. For the record, grandpa's miniatures ran off of their own steam engines (which grandpa made) and actually pumped oil from a resevoir in the base. Once a year he would take them to Kilgore for the show there and earn a little extra money by showing them.

So, anyhow, back to the story. On that terrible day in March 1937, I had been out in the shop with grandpa but he sent me into the house to ask grandma for something (I don't remember what.) No sooner had I entered the house than we heard/felt what seemed to be a very thunderous noise, then the little shotgun house that they lived in started to quivver and quake. I remember that there were two large framed pictures on the wall just above their bed and both of them fell to the floor. I was scared out of my wits because I didn't know what was happening. It was something that I had never experienced before and it just didn't make any sense to me. Grandma assured me that it was probably an oilfield boiler that had exploded and everything would soon be okay. Grandma was busy baking a cake for supper and she was very agitated that all the shaking would cause her cake to fall.

A very short time later, my uncle Lloyd Conrad, who was a lease man on a lease somewhere between Arp and Selman City, came by to pick up grandpa, who was a diabetic with other complications, to take him to New London for a doctor's appointment. I wanted to tag along but my uncle said I had to stay and help grandma. I learned later that he had heard about the explosion on the radio and didn't think I should see the carnage. As I recall, we didn't see grandpa or Uncle Lloyd until about noon the next day.

We never talked about the nlse again until one day in 1947 I found a scrapbook in my grandma's bedroom which contained pictures and newspaper articles about the disaster. Then we talked. I've asked everybody in the family if they know anything about that scrapbook but to this day nobody has 'fessed up. Grandma died in 1949 and most of her "treasures" were just thrown away like so much trash. So sad!

I wish I could remember more, but this is about it. Feel free to ask me anything and I'll glean my old grey matter.

I love your Site... Keep up the good work. We need all the historical facts and memories we can muster. Time is flying by and soon we won't have anyone left with first hand information.

Regards, Hal
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  Doug Gregory from an email  
  I am a high school English teacher in the small rural Alberta town of Stettler. Stettler is a lot like New London; much of its livelihood has come from oil and gas. As well, Stettler has another tie to New London.

My mother, Margaret Evelyn Nelson survived the blast that destroyed the school and took the life of her step-mother Mrs. J. Nelson. And it was her older brother Don, who was supervising his step-mother's class at the time of the explosion.

As a child, growing up in Fort Sill, Oklahoma, I heard a variety of stories about the explosion, and can still remember my mother's tears, when, sometime in the early sixties, a former student made the headlines by confessing to setting the explosion. If I recall, the man was declared mentally unbalanced and the confession was disregarded. Still, the pain and sorrow of that March afternoon was evident in my mother's tears.

I also remember visiting the school sometime in the late sixties. My mother showed me around the school and even introduced to me to a former teacher still on staff. Leaving the school, we stopped and viewed the cenotaph, the names of the dead, not unlike the Vietnam Memorial in Washington D.C., etched in stone as a solid reminder of a day when many lives were broken.

Today, the story of the New London School Explosion lives on in my classroom. Depending on the make up of a class, I will bring out an article and photos and give it to my students to read. The article, describes in detail, the explosion and its aftermath. It mentions Don Nelson and his efforts to help find trapped victims. It also describes his finding his brother Don and sister Evelyn soon after. In discussion, I lead the students in various directions, but usually set a couple of traps, by asking "What kind of idiot would go back into the rubble to try and save people?" This, of course elicits many responses that usually rebuke me for being cold and heartless. Someone, eventually, mentions the discovery of his brother and sister. The first trap has been sprung. Then, I will ask, "Okay, I'll go with all that, but really, this is sixty years after the fact, and somewhere far away, what's the big deal today?" (Trap two has just been set). Now they begin discussing how tragedy effects lives, not just immediate lives, but into the future. The families of those people are still around. (There goes trap two). This is when I mention that the Nelson family mentioned in the article is family. In fact, my mother and uncles. Needless to say, it always works and is a great way to get students interested in looking beyond their front doors and understanding how the past affects the presence. As one student once said, "It's like in Schindler's List. Each life saved became many lives saved in the future. If your mother had not been saved, you wouldn't be here now, Mrs. Gregory wouldn't be down the hall, and your daughters would not be here and any children they might have, won't be born."

Sadly, though, my mother has not shared in this experience. She died in the autumn of 1991, and all her brothers, (except for one who lives in Longview), and her one sister, have also passed. Yet, as long as I and my family live, their story will live on.
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  Martha Rogers Grenley from an email  
  Dear Sir,

I have just read your Web Site as it was just added to The Shelby County H1storical Society Web Site to which I subscribe. When I turned on the site this morning I was surprised to see they had added your site. So I have been reading all of it and now sit here with tears in my eyes. I was not involved in the the tragedy but was close to a lot of people who were.

At the time I was 13 years old in the 7th grade in Center, Texas, Shelby County. I can't remember exactly how I found out about the tragedy but was sick at heart to hear it. My half sister, Mary Rogers, was a music teacher in Overton, Texas. We went to Overton and New London the next day to see her and the wrecked school. I found a stray piece of paper that was someone's homework that I picked up and kept for years. She also played for one of the churches--I think it was the Methodist--and therefore was called on to play for funerals. She played for several funerals everyday for days and days and was completely exhausted before she was through, It was a very sad ordeal for her to go through.

In the fall of 1941 I left to go to college at Texas State College For Women (now Texas Womens University) in Denton, Texas. My roommate, Ruth Utsey--later Mrs. Jack Berry--was from New London. She did not live in New London at the time of the tragedy. However there were quite a few girls there that had lived there and had relatives killed. My memory fails me and I can't remember all the names. One was Corrine Miller and another was Mildred Walker. They were all a very close group of girls.

My name was Martha Rogers before I was married. If anyone sees this and remembers me I would appreciate hearing from them. It was so interesting and also very sad to read of that horrible tragedy.

Martha Rogers Grenley
168 Elkins Circle
Folsom, Ca. 95630
"Martha Grenley"
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