Oglebay-Norton Mine Explosion

Richwood News Leader
October 29, 1958

Dear Subscriber

It happened at ten o-clock Tuesday morning. For years the area had its fingers crossed. The country had stopped being lumber and became coal and coal always meant mass tragedy. The people knew it would come in a way, and on Tuesday morning it came.

The phone rang as I was eating lunch. It was Bronson's wife. There had been an explosion at Richwood Sewell, (Oglebay-Norton, really) she said, and Bronson had gone on. He said I should come at once and I rushed to the shop. I had no sooner parked than Bronson pulled into the curb in one of Mansel White's ambulances.

Ambulance Call

"There's a call for as many ambulances as the town can muster", he said. "Mansel asked me if I would drive". We stowed the camera and film in the front seat and started out. We came upon the mine rescue truck from Fenwick. We pulled around it and ahead of us a car motioned for us to pull ahead. We recognized the occupants as Imperial miners, members of the Imperial Mine Rescue Team. We pulled ahead, gunned the ambulance across Cartin bridge, and barreled it up the mountain and down the snake-like road to the Sewell mine.

There were but a few cars and two ambulances. As Bronson went to see if the ambulance was needed, I talked with a coal miner. "It's an explosion in No. 17 room, No. 3 entry, 15 left of North Mains.

Approximately fifty men went in and only 31 have come out. Two of them we are pretty sure aren't in the exploded area Roy Rice, mine foreman, and Bob Mascall, engineer. The other 17 are trapped, maybe dead. So far we don't know anything.

The time was right at one o'clock. I asked what kind of an explosion it was. "The man shrugged his shoulders. "It will take an investigation to tell that. It wasn't really an explosion as far as noise was concerned. It was a concussion. The first one took place right about ten o'clock. The second one blew off about an hour later. "The third one followed in a matter of minutes.".

Four Miles Back

I wandered down to the entrance of the mine where the belt stuck motionless into the yawning cavity of the earth. "How far back there are the trapped men?" I asked a man at the belt.

"If they are trapped. They are about right under Dr. David Brown's office, I'd say about two miles under the mountain. Maybe less".

The mountain rose steep and majestic and almost bereft of autumnal color. It was all six hundred feet to the peak.

I asked if anything was being done and learned that Percy Galeener of the neighboring Crichton mine came at once and volunteered to take over since two of the trapped men were the highest ranking men of the mine, Olin Gates, superintendent, and his assistant superintendent, Edward Stevenson. Galeener was directing operations of safety and rescue while Percy Bright was keeping things running from the office.

The List

Johnny D'Ambrosio,a clerical employee, showed me the list of presumably trapped men. They were:

Henry Bryant, electrician, Summersville.
Artie Humphrey, belt man, Craigsville.
William Tucker, timberman, Craigsville.
Ralph Adams, electrician, Craigsville.
Paul Davis, timberman, Craigsville.
Donald Davis, miner operator, Richwood.
Harry Westfall, timberman, Craigsville.
Howard Chaffin, miner operator, Fenwick.
Okey Donelson, supply man, Summersville.
Kyle Spencer, track man, Craigsville.
Gwen Wyatt, bolt machine man, Craigsville.
Joseph McVey, motorman, Craigsville.
Pete Weese, foreman, Richwood.
Edward Stevenson, assistant superintendent, Craigsville.
Olan Gates, superintendent, Craigsville.
Harry Fletcher, section foreman. Camden on Gauley.
William Anderson, supply man, Camden on Gauley.

I moved out to the repair shop. There is a knot of people there. I recognized Dr. Ed Echols and Dr. Jim Glasscock. I talked to a state inspector and am told that of the 17 men trapped, it is believed that four are alive. "That doesn't mean that 13 are dead", he said pointedly.

1:05: The mine rescue truck from Fenwick pulls up in front of the office and the order comes for the ambulances to line up.

1:09. The Imperial car pulls in and the men start assembling their gear ready to go in to the mine.

1:13. Another ambulance arrives from Richwood and drops in the ambulance line.

1:20. The ambulance drivers start taking out cots. They are taken to the locker room where the doctors have set up an emergency first air-aid relief headquarters.

Weather: Cold

1:22. I step into office to get warm. It is terribly cold. A man is talking. "I went back and I came to this man and I ..." He sees me and stops. "I can't make any statement", he says. "You had better sit down; you have been through hell". "I don't want to sit down. I want a cigarette". The man is later identified as the engineer, Bob Mascall. I turn away. If his information is restricted, that is all right by me.

1:25. Percy Bright is on the phone trying to get hold of Charley Russell, the taximan, in Craigsville to bring coffee and sandwiches. "Don't you know he's out of the restaurant business? someone asks. I see Joe Vitello out the window and I suggest to Percy that he try Joe. "He has an eating place near Craigsville", I tell him.

1: 30. I see a line of people who have come up the river. There are women and men and I move out because this is the first of the women folk who by tradition come to mine disasters to see if their men folk are safe. They come on across the Cherry river on the catwalk along side the tipple conveyor belt and one of them breaking away from the others, seizes a nearby man around the neck and kisses him. A state policeman approached the group, had a talk with them and they left. "What's the story?, I asked him. "A woman who is very happy", he said. "She hoped to find a live husband and she found him. She went away happy". I saw the party trailing along the catwalk homeward.

Keeping People Out

1:32. Bronson has been taking pictures and he tells me to have a look across the river. There I see cars lined up far as I can see. The road-block at the top of the mountain has sent them in by the back door. The troubled people will cross the river in some manner and work their way up to the scene of the disaster.

1:35. Rev. Frank Plybon of the Craigsville St. Luke's church greets me. "Mrs. Tucker told me that her husband (William Tucker) and her brother (Artie Humphrey) were in the exploxsion. I thought I had better come and see if there's anything that I can do".

1:40. I wander up to the repair shop and see that Dr. Ed Hunter and Dr. Jim McClung have joined the group. It seems to be getting colder.

1:50. A woman arrives. She is weeping. She stops to address a man, evidently a neighbor. "Did you call your wife and tell her you are all right?" she asks. "No, I guess I didn't". "Oh, please call her now. Call her and tell her. She'll be crazy". The man moved off to the office to a phone that of all times was not working any too well. Mrs. Donald Davis, Mrs. Howard Chaffin and Mrs. Goldie Hinkle joined the little group of watchful, hopeful women with so much of them under the mountain beyond.

2:00. The mine safety team from Mt. Hope (the town) arrives.

2:05. A mine rescue team makes arrangements to enter the mine.

2:10. The men, one by one, throw themselves longwise upon the belt and disappear into the bowels of the earth. Johnny D'Ambrosio gives me the list of names. They are W. S. Hamrick, C. R. Mcclung, J. D. Bredon, Everett Goad, Lou Fyock, and the federal inspector Allamon.

CAP Comes Foward

2:12 Charles Donley arrives with CAP equipment and is soon talking with guards posted at the entrance of the disaster area.

2:13. Frank Furlin, supervisor of Federal inspectors, asks me who is in charge of the operations so that he can get together another crew to send into the mine. I tell him that I suppose Percy Galeener is and pointing him out. He leaves.

2:15. Another group of men come down into the pit and start dropping like boy sledriders, upon the belt. Again Johnny D'Ambrosio gives me the list. They are Lewis Channell, Kermit Henson, James Estep, M.D. Legg, William Kennedy, Jr., Tom Hohnson, Millard Smith, Francis Henderson (Federal Inspector), A. Littleton, Robert M. Cain, and Leo Morrelli (Federal insepctor). There is talk that two men will soon be brought out. They are alive, the report says.

2:20. Another group of men approached the belt ready to go inside the mine. Among them is Dr. Glaacock, hardhatted and coveralled. He hesitates for a second at the belt edge, then tossed himself at length upon it, and is absorbed in. Mother Earth, who, at times, such as now, can be so unmotherly. With him are J.C. Barber, brother of Richwood's ex-Mayor Jim Barber, and Virl Kyle, father of the marbles champion. And there was Dick Haskins, the salesman of mining machinery (Joy) who donned miner's gear and went to do what he could do. And there were others on that belt, gone into the blackness. Marvin Harless, Robert Dunlap, Bill Bowers, Paul Fazenbaker, Doy Barnette, Otis Given, Hartley E. Jones, Albert Davis and Ocven Burkerholder.

Clay Perrine on the Phone

2:21. The only communication with the rescue teams inside is a telephone inside the repair shop. Clay Perrine was glued to the instrument. "Another doctor is headed in", I heard him shout.

2:30. Dr. Hunter and Paul Given throw themselves upon the belt and are swallowed up.

2:35. The Mt. Hope team prepares to go in. John White says, "There's Mrs. Harry Fletcher. She has a husband and a brother in there".

2:45. In the office Joe Vitello is on the phone. "Send one hundred sandwiches, seven or eight gallons of coffee, some soft drinks and some bars of candy". "And cigarettes", says Percy Bright, "And cigarettes. All kinds", says Joe. He hangs up and the phone rings. "I am terribly sorry, ma'am, but I can't tell you that. I just don't know a thing. No, I am sorry". Percy hangs up and the phone rings again. "No, I am sorry..." And on and on it goes, the calls of frantic, fear-ridden people, seeking information of their loved ones. I asked Percy Bright why he doesn't get in touch with the radio station at Richwood and have them ask the people not to call, and thus keep the phone free for emergency calls. "Would you do it?" he asked and I called Art Gruenwald. He took notes, and asked what is the story. I told him that I wasn't at liberty to give out a thing and wished that I could give him the names of the trapped men. "O, I have that", he said. "How on earth did you get it?" I wanted to know. "Got it from the sheriff's office", he said.

The Chief Goes In

3:00. Crawford Wilson, West Virginia chief of mines, appears, speaks to a few persons and immediately enters the mine with the men who have accompanied him.

3:05. Percy Bright was worried about the hot coffee. "Those men ought to have some coffee and sandwiches. And we ought to be able to send some stuff in on the belt". I had a sudden happy idea. The National Guard. "It is their job to do that type of thing. They'll just set up a field kitchen", I said. Percy gave me the go-ahead signal and I called my girl Barbara Logar at the shop and told her to pass the word to Sgt. Willard Church. I knew that she could do the work and not tie up the mine's one shaky telephone.

3:2. The wife of Olin Gates, the superintendent, arrives. She has come with food and coffee to be at the side of her husband in his time of need. To give him strength. And then Percy Bright must tell her that her husband is not helping, he is the helped. He is in There. "Oh, why wasn't I told! Oh, why didn't you tell me", she screamed and she collapsed. Strong arms carried her into an inner-office and strong hearts tried to bring her comfort.

3:25. Charley Russell entered the office with boxes of sandwiches and jugs of hot coffee. Charley wasn't the old Charley Russell. He had a worn and tired look. "I have a son-in-law in there", he said. It wasn't a mine, it wasn't a mountain, it wasn't ground. It was just there.

3:35. Noel Blanch of WCHS-TV in Charleston appears with an assortment of cameras. Behind him comes Carlo Salzaro of UPI.

3:38. The first man is brought out. He is Artie Humphrey. He seems to be in good shape, the doctors report, after examining him in the improvised first aid room.

3:45. Photographer Earl Benton of the Charleston Daily Mail arrives. He introduces Miss Kitty Thompson of his paper. He tells her that I am considered a moron in most newspaper circles.

3:50. Dr. Jim McClung telephones the Sacred Heart Hospital and asks the hospital to alert Dr. Leef. "One's on the way", he says.

4:20. The report is given prominence that three men have been loaded onto the belt and are on their way outside. Jo McQuade, who brought coffee makings and a load of prepared meat, loaves of bread and boxes of cookies, said that cots were needed and I got Barbara on the phone again and she started on the job of getting the National Guard, who, I learned later, had already despatched a truck with field kitchen and load of food. In the meantime Joe McQuade was doing a land office business in serving coffee and sandwiches. Ross Barber came up to Joe and said, "This is my bill, I am paying for all of this. It's on me. Joe decided even before this that his company Donegan was to pay. "The man who pays is the Red Cross", said a well dressed, well fed man. "I am Louis Titworth. I am with the Red Cross and I pick up the tab. They all decided to let him.

4:40. I wander down to the drift mouth where men have knotted to help the three outward bound hurt miners and there I see a young body with a C on his sweater and a look of anxiety on his face. "You got somebody in there?" he is asked and he answer simply, "My dad!" The belt stops and two men straighten up and lift a stretcher. Men step forward to help. A battery of camera flashbulbs light up the murky coldness. The man is alive. The doctors look him over and hurry him into an ambulance. I want to go with my husband, I want to go with him". People try to restrain her. I tell them to let her go. That's where she should be, I tell them, and she climbs into the ambulance and sits by his side and they go away together.

Two injured men are brought out close together. They are Paul Davis and - Okey Donelson. They are taken to the emergency room, checked by Dr. McClung and Echols and sent to the hospital.

5:00. There is bitterness on the part of the newspaper men because of a censorship on the news via a clamp-down on the use of the one telephone. It looks as if things will be corrected now that Ray Burns of C&P is on hands putting in a second line to take care of the traffic. But there is nobody to tell the newsmen that they can use the phone and too many to tell them they can't. The trouble, of course, is that the officials of the company are trapped within, and Morgan Williams, General Manager of the coal division of the Oglebay-Norton Company, is more concerned with getting men out of a mine than he is with people getting news out to the outside world. William was gentle, but firm, "I won't tie up a phone for news reports", he said. And when Ray Burns had installed the second phone, there was still no change in the set program.

5:10. The National Guard truck arrives with its field kitchen and the guardsmen start lending a hand to Joe McQuade.

We Know Two Are Dead

5:13. 1 talk with Percy Galeener. "We definitely know that two of the men are dead. Our crew passed over them as they went in. I certainly hope it won't be more, but I have fears..." His voice trailed off.

5:15. I walk back to the drift mouth, passed Mayor Keith Jarvis in conversation with ex-mayor Jim Barber. At the drift mouth I see Bill Derenge. "I guess you figure there is always hope, Bill", I say to him. Bill in 1915 saved the lives of 42 of his buddies by forcing them to barricade than remain barricaded for three days.

Cutty Curtwright Appears

5:20. The Pardee-Curtin prize winning safety team comes up and I talk to their leader, B.H. Curtwright. With him are George Bonovitch, A. E. Curtlip, Gene Wilson, Earl Nicholson, Charles Flair. They have their equipment from the truck and start getting ready. Who has a map", Curtwright asks. I refer him to Jim McCurry, head of the Imperil Mines, who has been on hand for the past several hours.

5:22. There comes a demand on food and coffee to be sent inside on the belt and Joe V. Gello and I take out some boxes and jugs and watch it stowed on the belt.

5:45. Ray Burns announced that soon there will be two phones. He has found that he can string a line to Marybill and hook on to a main from there.

5:50. Two men, one with any number of cameras hanging down his front, came up and introduced themselves as writer Henry Suydon and photographer Robert Phillips of Life Magazine. They had been assigned the Bishop explosion and just when they were ready to depart they got word of the explosion in Nicholas. They chartered a plane in Bluefield landed in Summersville, where they almost ran into a new of wires, and hitched a ride on the road to the explosion site.

5:30. A woman stands in the corner of a building sobbing and a photographer steps up and takes her picture. She doesn't even notice.

6:15. Suddenly I find myself with some exclusive information that I wish I did not have to go to the office to tell Percy Bright because I know he hasn't heard, and because I knew he must, and as I go and look into the hopeful faces of the women I turn away because I can't look because what I know will be gall for them I whisper to Percy that all the men dead. "How do you know? Are you sure?" He sinks back in his chair and stares ahead. I see a moistness about his eyes and he turns away. Those fellows are friends. Fellows that he has known for a long time. Fellows who have brought their problems and their joys to him. And suddenly I see that Percy Bright is a tired, very tired man.

Murmur Tells Story

6:30. There is a low, muffled murmur in the crowd, and there is a movement toward the drift mouth. The belt stops and three blanket draped forms are lifted off and carried into the makeshift emergency room, now suddenly a morgue. With dread the men move among the forms, studying the faces and checking with their numbers, and a state trooper says, "Have you identified the men?" They have. The dead are Harry Fletcher, William Anderson, Joe McVey, Millard Anderson was there. He identified his brother. He did it stoically, courageously. The word was whispered from man to man and it passed outside and from the crowd came the piercing cry of a torn hearted woman.

6:40. Another body is brought out of the mine, taken to the locker room, and brought out to the hearse. And Mrs. Donald Davis cries out, "Oh, no, oh God, No, No, No, God, no" and her cries are muffled against a neighbor's bosom.

6:45. Bob Reed comes up to me, "Jim can you show me somebody who's in charge here? I have had rescue training and I'd like to help". I turned him over to a man who had been asking for rescue workers. "I need an inside labor detail", he said.

6:50. A working detail was finally made up and sent out. It was made up of Hard Wyatt, Bill Mullins, Dana Mullins, Brodis Brown, Ray Donnelson, Bernell Morris, Bob Reed and James Tyree.

TV men on the Scene

6:55. Two fellows from Station WSLS-TV of Roanoke, Virginia introduced themselves. I saw Ferrel Friend and Frank Watkins of the Gazette in the multitude.

7:19. The working detail belted underground.

7:20. I note that a number of children, with faces drawn stand waiting the word which I know, despite their hopes is not going to be good for their little selves and I feel a strong surging pity for them.

8:10. The death watch has now set in. Some of the people have worn off the strain and there is some joking and some laughter. But on the faces of the women there is no merriment, nothing but dejection, and by now little hope. I go to the locker room and Dr. Hunter comes in. His face isa ll black with coal dust. "I examined four living and nine dead and found Dr. Glasscock had been there before me and had examined them and given some of them, the living ones, medications. There was nothing more to do, so I came out". He had been in there at least 6 hours. "What I missed most was my cigarettes. But some of the fellows gave me chewing tobacco", Dr. Hunter said.

Life Magazine Represented

9:00. The Life photographer came in and photographed Dr. Hunter from a great number of angles and then posed him with some of the men. "Now you aren't posing", he was told.

9:19. Another truck load of food arrived and the National Guardsmen started piling it on the table.

9:22. A truck pulled up and men got off, bringing with them heavy equipment. "Where you fellows from?" I asked. They said they were from the Clinchfield Coal Company, No. 2 of Clarksburg. As they put together their equipment Life Magazine was set back a pretty penny in flash and film.

9:23. The National Guard had its walky-talky working and the words of "This is Echo, over" was echoed and re-echoed. A State Trooper with a huge jaw capacity borrowed a chew of tabacco from Ferrel Friend.

9:55. The state police cleared the locker room and by this I knew that more bodies were coming.

10:00. A man came in and washed his face under a shower. "That's Lou Fyock. He went in with the crew at twelve o'clock and just came out".

10:12. I wandered over to the snack table and had my hundredth-or-so coffee. A girl was helping with the serving. She said her name was Lillian Barker and that she lives at Nettie.

90 Gallons of Coffee

10:15. A National Guardsman reported that 90 gallons of coffee and 40 pounds of meat had been used up by the workers and watchers. Twenty more pounds of meat was on order.

10:20. Two bodies are brought into the locker room. The men stand around, hesitating, knowing that they must lift those covers and stare upon a face that they don't want to recognize. "I can identify this one." The man speaks slowly. "He's my brother". The speaker is John Spencer, son of Will Spencer. The dead man is Kyle Spencer. He left Carbon-Carbide a few months ago and came here to Swell to work. He had been in the army where he had lost some of his fingers. The other man is identified as Harry Westfall.

Wilson to the Rescue

10:30. State Mine Chief Crawford Wilson released the phones and the ban on reporting the news. There's no sense in keeping the news from the people, he said. The AP, the UPI, the Gazette, Daily Mail, Life, and three or four representatives of TV stations spring to the phones.

10:50. I am introduced to Charles Sabo, of the United Mine Workers Welfare Fund. "I am here to see that the families of the men are given medical attention or whatever else is needed", he said.

10:55. I had a talk with a man who just came out of the mine. "There are two bodies that haven't been found yet" he said. "Dr. Glasscock is still in there, shivering with the cold. I told him to come on out with me, but he refused. He thinks there's a chance that those two can be found alive. But there's no such change".

More Rescue Teams

11:02. A safety team from Semet-Solvay division of Allied Chemical Corporation from Tralle, Wyoming County, pulled up and stared unpacking their complicated looking gear. The safety director was Clarence Jesse, and his charges were Woodrow Meadows (captain), Nelson Henderson, Edward Bragg, Joe Williams, Eugene Fortey and John Shumaker.

11:15. Only two groups of women were left. One group of three stood about a fire built in an old oil drum and the others sat in an off room of the office. They looked strained and tired and only the barest of hope could possibly be with them now. Bronson had long departed with the film that he had exposed to have it developed and made into cuts. The crowd was now thinning. The pointed, sad faces of the children had been taken away to grow old through the night and more and more rescue men went into the mine and more and more went up the torturous hillside to the outside world. Word came that one body was found and one was still missing.

11:45. The mine chief made a statement: "Until the missing body has been found, a round the- clock search will be made. All men will come out of the mine except fire bosses, foremen, company patrolmen and state and federal mine inspectors will supervise the re-establishing of ventilation and the removal of gases, then an underground investigation of the explosion area will be made. After completion of that a joint-inspection will be made by inspectors and the mine found free of hazards before resumption of operations. An official hearing will be held as soon as practicable by federal and state agencies after the burial of the dead.

Wednesday Morning

12:15. Only a handful of people, two ambulances and two groups of women remain. The National Guard announces that is has made its 100th gallon of coffee.

12:25. Another body comes from beneath the mountain. It is taken to the locker room and uncovered and one or two gaze at the face and check the social security number and name of "Howard Chaffin" is whispered a cry of loss and despair rise and then there is but one ambulance, and one group of women, and a smaller than ever group of men left. There is a moon to look down upon it all and clouds to cover it from time to time.

3:307: Time hangs heavily and it drags slow. The Life photographer wonders if he can photograph the map of the mine layout and a curt voice tells him no. "There's no news in that", he is told. I pass away the time typing out what you are reading. The room in which I type is as good a facsimile of Grand Central Station as I ever hope to see this side of Grand Central Station. Inspectors discuss what went wrong and what went right. One tells another of the disasters that he has seen and the infractions he has corrected. In come those who have despaired of getting warm at the hotly burning, little warming oil can, and make waffles of themselves on the radiator. But I type ahead. Anything amiss in fact or style can be attributed to the tumultuous condition of my surroundings.

More Inspectors Arrive

3:21. John Matsko and a Mr. DeWeese, Federal min inspector from Mt. Hope appear upon the scene. Two inspectors wearily come out of the mine and ask that I get them a hotel room. The call is made and the men are tired indeed to find that there is no room. "And they have been in there so long", said one man who had been there a long time himself.

5:07. "Watch the belt. There're men coming out". The words cut through the morning cold. I rush to the drift mouth. Maybe they have found Adams and maybe alive. But the belt brings only very tired men with very black faces. They are discouraged and sick at heart. It is something they aren't used to. Something they hope to never get used to. Nicholas county has never had a mine explosion. I look around to see how many of my fellow news men are with me and there is only the Life Magazine twosome. All others have sought their beds. I resolve not to be outdone by Life and stick steadfast.

3:00 Dr. Jim Glasscock comes out. He comes to the fire and tries to get some heat into his bones. "There's no use going back. If he is beyond where I was or even where I was, he can't be living." He got into his car and left.

5:25. The men inside send out word that they want sandwiches and coffee. Joe Vitello told me to call in, in such an eventually so I called. But I didn't get an answer. I dialed the police and Jack Lucky said he would be happy to wake Joe up and get him on the ball. The Life magazine writer comes in and I ask him if he is going to stay until the end. "Do you mean until the body is recovered?" I tell him yes. "I might as well. I have stayed this long". I am now resolved to stay although I have called out my working staff for six o'clock.

5:40. "Where's that coffee and food to send inside?" comes booming after me. I call Jack Lucky again and he tells me Joe is making preparation. But my goad tells me that the men can't wait that long. "Why don't you try Bill Russell's Hilltop place top of the hill". It's Okay by me. I do. And then I forget to notify Joe and I am panicked at the thought he will have to live on surplus sandwiches all winter.

5:45. Suddenly come the word. Adams has been found. Alive? I think my question is really a prayer. Th answer isn't good. "We are starting out with the body", says the voice on the phone in the repair shop. Now that is over, one man wonders if we shouldn't cancel our order for food. I tell them I don't think so. It will take over an hour and besides it's a long ways out and some of the fellows go to Webster Springs and beyond. No, let Bill bring on the supplies.

6:00. The food arrives and the men fall upon it like manna from heaven. There is one little slip. No cups. But somehow we made out. And the food was amazingly good at that early hour of the morning. I look around and I see that Life Magazine, having exhausted every photographable subject, has turned the camera on me and has started sureptitiously dogging my steps, nor do I play too hard to get, and try my best at photogeneity as I continue to write upon and to covet Johnny D'Ambrosio's very excellent typewriter.

7:02. The 13th and the last stretcher burden is brought forth from the earth. Four men carry it to the locker room and lay it there, and again I witness the unhurried dread, the hoped for avoidance of a job that must be done, and the thongs are cut and the blankets lowered and identity has been established. And a chapter has been written with a pen dipped in abject sorrow.

7:40. I am at my desk at the News Leader. With us a representative of the Red Cross is talking with survivors and next of kin. Messages are being sent the length and breadth of the country to break the news to boys in the service and others far from home. I have walked out in the street and find no laughter. The town and its people weep because in our little sphere of things we don't live to ourselves alone. Our greatest tragedy has crushed us all.


West Virginia Archives and History