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  Recollections/Emails (Page 18)
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  Contributors  
     
  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.
 
     
     
 
 
 
  Pamela Bain from an email - 3/23/2012  
     
  Dear Robert,

I have just finished reading " Gone at 3:17". My mother, Rena Faye Whittington Watson, was ten years old at the time of the explosion. By the grace of God, and the economic times, she and most of her immediate family were in La Union, New Mexico, where her father was working on Uncle Mon's bean farm. Her brother, Donald, age six, stayed in Texas and lived with my great grandparents, Dick and Nancy Sartain. He was one of those first graders huddled in a ditch, as debris flew. My mother remembers how my grandparents were so worried until they got the news that Donald was safe. Our great Great Great Aunt, Miss Lena, as she was called, (Mrs. Lena Jacobs Hunt) perished, as did Willie Tate, who was related to us through marriage. My Grandmother's sister, Donnie Ruth Sartain Tate was married to Curtis Tate, Willie's brother. I remember spending many nights with my Aunt Nelwyn Sartain Hunt and Uncle James. Mr. Jim Hunt, Miss Lena's husband, lived with them. He was a sweet and gentle man, but always had a far away look in his eyes. Nobody ever told me, as a kid, why. He worked for Humble, I think, and could very well have been one of those looking for survivors. Their son, Uncle James, was is pictured in the photo with Dad Joiner at the Daisy Bradford #3 well. I have no idea if he too, was digging in that rubble, looking for his mother.

My mother, and her siblings all went to New London School when they returned to Texas. Mother graduated from there and has her yearbook. I don't remember one person ever speaking about the explosion until I was well into my teens. And even then, not with any details, names, or memories.

My mother wants to make a trip to see the Museum, and we do too. Mother is the only surviving sibling, and all the elders are long gone. I am the oldest cousin of this generation, so at 64, it is my duty to pass on what I know.

Mine is not a real story of what I remember or what was really told to me. The books and your Museum will be the remembering place. We will also visit the Pleasant Hill Cemetery where most all of the family are buried. I do remember the marbles, and I think there were hair ribbons, at one time.

Thank you and all who keep the Museum, as a repository of what never can be forgotten. Incidentally, my husband is a civil engineer. He was stunned when we met, to know the the reason for the Civil Engineering Codes, were tangentially related to our family. One of those little quirks of fate. I was an "Oil Patch Kid" and never knew. By the time I could talk, my grandmother Whittington lived in Kilgore. They tell me my first sentence was "plenty of oil wells"!

Pamela Bain
 
     
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  Mary Lechtenberg Vail From An Email - 6/21/2008  
     
  Robert:

Thank you so much for your website with info about the New London explosion. My dad survived the explosion but two of his sisters were killed. It was a moment in time that has affected generations of people, from the parents and grandparents of the children to the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the survivors. Life was not easy on those who survived. What we now know was post traumatic stress disorder affected so many of the survivors and left scars that never healed. My dad was in the machine shop and always blamed himself for the explosion that tore his family to shreds. Whether or not he was the person who turned on the machine that sparked the explosion, only God knows.

But regardless of what actually happened, no child who survived was the same after. I am grateful that you have taken the time to memorialize that terrible day. It certainly affected my family and tormented my Dad until the day he died. I vividly remember him screaming in his sleep, night after night after night. What a terrible thing to happen to children. His family eventually settled in Alhambra, CA. The surviving children were successful business people who were plagued with nightmares, alcoholism and post traumatic stress. My parents produced eight children and we have since produced 18 grand children and seven great grandchildren. All have been affected to one degree or another by the circumstances on that fateful day.

Again, thanks for the website. My grandson was asking about the explosion today and your site came up when I Googled.

Sincerely,

Mary Lechtenberg Vail
 
 
     
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  Greg Duch - 3/15/2007  
     
  Robert:

A few years before he died, my uncle told me a story about HIS aunt, who worked in Tyler, Texas in 1937. He related a little bit about her (his aunt's ) life, and the catastrophic events in New London, which evidently became a part of her life.

As youngsters, my late uncle, my late mom (his sister), and the younger sister all spent a period of time at Mother Frances Hospital, living there under the watchful eye of their aunt, during the 1930's. Of this fact I was aware.

Until my uncle mentioned the disaster, I was unaware of this painful story in the lives of the people of East Texas; I was unaware that my Great-Aunt was living at Mother Frances Hospital, at the time, and affected by this tragedy, as well.

I have been very desirous of learning more about the tragedy itself, its immediate effects, its enduring effects on East Texas, and how it may have affected my Great-Aunt.

You mentioned that you work at Trinity-Mother Frances. Would you know any sources of information about March 18, 1937, and the impact it had on MFH; and the effect MFH may have had on the community?

If there were any mention of my Great-Aunt anywhere, I'd be interested in learning of such.

Until I did some surfing on the net, I had been completely ignorant of the New London Tragedy, except for what little my uncle mentioned to me. I want to gain an even closer insight into those terrible days.

My aunt was a member of the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth on March 18, 1937. She worked on the staff of the hospital in administrative work, I believe.

Her name was: Sister Mary Adeline (Szmergalski-family name). She was born in August, 1888.

I never knew her while she was living. I do know that she and her "little sister", my grandmother, were very close right up to my grandmother's untimely death at age 49, in 1941.

So, Sister Adeline would have been about 48-49 years of age in 1937.

It's an uncanny coincidence that the explosion occurred at 03:17 on 03/18/1937!

Thank you for your time. May God bless you always.

Sincerely,

Greg Duch

 
     
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