School Explosion Reunion In New London - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

3/18/05-Longview

School Explosion Reunion In New London

It was 68 years ago today at 3:15 in the afternoon,  a massive explosion tore apart New London school, killing 318 people. Since 1977 surviving students get together every two years to remember those lost. Students who attended London school in the 1930s have gathered for a reunion this weekend in Rusk County. They're senior citizens now, but in 1937 they were students at London schools, and they remember the explosion as if it were yesterday.

"All the other kids were hollering and i could hear them, waking up and i couldn't move expect my right arm and hand," says survivor Ike Challis.

Then a 5th grader, Challis was buried alive under two feet of concrete and ash, but was among the lucky ones who managed to survive.

"I felt somebody up above, we were about two feet under rubble and he stepped on my head, and so i hollered and told him that," says Challis.

The reasons they return are varied, but mostly its because of the one monumental event that connects them.

"It's really hard to explain we all do it we don't know exactly why we do it, something about this area this time period just draws us all to it," says alumni Jean Davidson.

Strolling through the museum, many are drawn to a wall containing letters of condolence from leaders all over the world at the time, such as the prime ministers of Japan and England. But ultimately they just come back because they don't want anyone to forget.

"They come back and they share their feelings, and they were not able to do that when this happened," says Davidson.

The reunion concludes with a class dance and talent show Saturday and a memorial service Sunday.
Bob Hallmark, reporting.

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