Survivors of school explosion reunite, some for the first time

By Bob Hallmark - bio | email
Posted By Molly Reuter - bio | email

NEW LONDON, TX (KLTV) - Every March, survivors of the New London school explosion of 1937 come back to remember their lost classmates.

"It sounded like we had been bombed," said 90 year-old survivor Catherine Hughes-Keeling.

"I just had this force that pushed me out from behind my desk down on the floor," said survivor Ira Moore.  "Then the room filled with a choking cloud of dust."  March 18, 1937, 72 years ago this month, a massive gas explosion tore the school apart.  For survivors, the New London Museum holds voices of their classmates that died.

"Those memories never die," said Moore.  "They stick with you for your lifetime."  Moore moved to California, and hasn't been back until Saturday.  He's never seen the museum.

"See a few old friends maybe that I haven't seen in years, and see the museum here," said Moore.  Through chance, Hughes was called out of school to the gym just before the blast.

"I had walked into the gym and sat down, and that's when it happened," said Hughes.  Despite news reports, 293 victims were accounted for, but the real number may never be known. Sympathy letters came from everywhere, from Eleanor Roosevelt to the then chancellor of Germany.  John Davidson lost part of his family that day.

"I had a 14 year-old sister killed in the explosion," said Davidson.  The museum expects around 250 former students to attend this weekend's reunion.  Sunday, Congressman Louie Gohmert is scheduled to speak at a memorial service.