Linda and the Texas City Explosion
By Bill Cherry
Davy Crockett Elementary School was at the corner of 39th Street and Avenue Q.
I think all of the Galveston elementary schools back then were named after Texas heroes, and they looked like they had the same architect.
Marguerite Quibedeaux was the principal. Her husband was a superintendent at Farmer’s Marine Copper works. His name was Hammie. They lived on Avenue T near Lovernberg Jr. High.
I was in the second grade at Crockett, and my teacher was Mrs. Carr. She lived about a block east from the school on Ave. Q.
It was Wednesday morning, April 6, 1947, probably about 10. The Moon reading group was sitting in a circle at the front of the room. Mrs. Carr was in the center.
The children were taking turns reading a story about Dick, Jane and Spot.
The rest of us were supposed to be drawing, but a lot of looking around, watching the canvas window shades flap in the gulf breeze, and giggling at a kid named Bill Kelly eating his jar of paste were the real ongoing activities.
I was still begging my mom and dad to let me start wearing long pants. That didn’t come to past that year.
Our desks were old and full of initial carvings on the top, and old hard as a rock gum stuck underneath, most left behind by previous generations of users.
The desks were the kind you’ve seen in western movies with one room schools. They screwed to the floor, had flap down seats, and the desk tops opened so you could keep your school supplies in the space underneath.
All of a sudden there was an enormous explosion. The canvas shades blew off of the windows and landed on the floor. Books on the shelves quivered, but didn’t fall off.
Everyone but Linda was still in their seats, even those in the Moon reading group. The concussion had thrown Linda from her seat, and she was on the floor crying. No one else was.
Her desk was the first one by the classroom door.
Mrs. Quibedeaux’s office was near our classroom, so it was natural that within moments she was at our door to check to see if we were alright. She picked up Linda, still crying, and took her with her.
Soon school was dismissed. Gerry Elbert was a couple of years older than I. She lived across the street and three doors east.
She came to my room and took me with her to wait for my mother to get there to pick me up. My mom gave Gerry a ride home, too.
That night, my daddy stood me on a kitchen table chair and we looked out of the backdoor window. The reflection of the Texas City Explosion’s fire lighted the sky.
There was another explosion as we looked, not nearly as large as the initial one.
When school resumed, Linda was the sole absentee from Mrs. Carr’s class. We thought maybe it was because she had been hurt when she was blown from her desk and landed on the floor.
That wasn’t it.
Linda, the only one who had been thrown from her desk, the only one who had cried, was also the only one in the class whose daddy was killed.
We never saw Linda after that.
Copyright 2012 – William S. Cherry