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  Recollections/Emails (Page 8)
  Page 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20
  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.
  William N. Grigg (Bill)  
  William N. Grigg (Bill) age 11
was in the 5th grade
and was supposed
to be in study hall.
Age 11       Age 81
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  Bill Grigg's Story  
  As you walk past the graves in the Pleasant Hills Cemetery, headstone after headstone repeats the the same inscription "Died on March 18,1937."

William N. Grigg's brother "Edwin Grigg" wasn't buried in the cemetery a few miles out of town with almost half of his classmates who died in a natural gas explosion in the high school. George Able and Jessie Mae Grigg took their 13 year old son to a family plot near Paluxy, TX, and laid him to rest in the Rock Church Cemetery.

But the memories of the natural gas explosion that destoyed London's high school and much of the community's second generation that Thursday afternoon remain.

William Grigg, age 11 at the time, was supposed to be in study hall at 3:05 Thursday March 18th. "I didn't like study hall and was helping a teacher out by cleaning the math room, emptying trash baskets and cleaning erasers. There was another boy helping me (I don't remember his name) and we had just stepped out of a rear door about 5 minutes before school would have been let out, when the explosion occurred! The building and ground shook like an earthquake, and the building seemed to suck in then blew out. I didn't hear anything, though it was heard for miles away. I ran away and in doing so I climbed a fence that was around the school. I had never been able to climb it before. But I did that day! Then I climbed back over and started to look for my brothers. I went around towards the front and remember seeing a girl who sat in front of me in class. All that remained of her was her head and upper torso. I couldn't find my 2 older brothers and I remember starting for home, which was about 5 miles away. Some man picked me up in his pickup. There were some other kids in it and he dropped me off at my house. My parents (George A. Grigg and Jessie M. Grigg) were both home and I told them what had happened. They had thought that a boiler had blown up somewhere when they heard the noise."

"My father and I went back to search for the Edwin and Horace, and mother stayed home. We found Edwin at the Legion Hall that had been turned into a makeshift morgue. We identified him when I saw a foot that was sticking out from under a sheet that was missing a big toe. (He had lost the toe about a year earlier playing on a pump jack.) We never did find Horace 'til the next evening. He was at a hospital in Overton. He was 17 at the time and when he became conscious, he thought that he had been in a car wreck or something. He suffered from a punctured lung and his back was broken in several places and had to stay in the hospital for several weeks. We didn't tell him that Edwin had been killed 'til his condition had stabilized which was about 2 weeks. Dad and I took Edwin to a family plot in a cemetery near Paluxy, TX and buried him. When we got back they were still working on identifying the dead. We finished the school year in Quonset hut like buildings and we could see the workers demolishing the rest of the building! One day a couple of months later I remember a secretary to the assistant principal accidentally turned over a file cabinet, causing a loud bang and we all left the building in a flash. Some even jumped out the windows. They let us go home early that day!"

His surving brother Horace has returned to London many times for the reunion they have there every 2 years. He didnt see what actually happened, the serching for survivors, the victims laid out in the makeshift morgues waiting to be identified. By the time he woke up in the hospital everything that had been remaining had been torn down. Hauled away. The victims had been buried.

Dad (William N.) is now 77, married with 3 children. Horace was married, but his wife died several years ago and they had 1 daughter. Horace now resides in Carlsbad, New Mexico. Their dad, George A. Grigg died in 1954 of cancer and is buried in Paluxy along with his wife Jessie Mae. She died in late 1998 of natural causes in Harrison, Arkansas.

"New London was an oilfield community," William recalls. "It was located east of Dallas and the boomtown grew from a population of a few hundred to a few thousand in just a couple of years after oil was discovered in Rusk County in 1930. The oil companies paid for all the expenses of the cleanup and the funerals of everyone, even for the families who didn't work for them."

Dad put the disaster out of his mind for many years, until he went to a survivors' reunion back about 6 years ago. It was very rough for him. Someone asked him a question, and he couldn't remember. It had been so long since he had thought about it. After the explosion he never got close to anyone since all his buddies had been killed. He pretty much became a "loner" 'til he went into the Army. And he says that's another story!

W.N. Grigg
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  More Photos  
Bill Grigg,
Spring 1938

One of the last pictures taken of all the family together. Bill and Edwin holding a ball on the front and Horace in the back on left side.

  Jessie Mae &
George Grigg, 1938
  My best friend, Donald Barrett.
Died in the explosion.
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