We bought our place here in 1922. In 1927 we moved the little four-room house to the back of the lot and built the one on it now that we live in still. Then dismantled the old one. We are about 3 miles from the P.O. on 6th St. the main business St. you would never recognize T.C. as being the same town.
A Soldier or Army Camp was here in Sept. 1915 when a hurricane came and destroyed much of the town- Street Cars ran from downtown to the camp. Dirt streets, little city sanitation, ect.- scattered homes, business on the (Galveston) Bayside. In 1920 a "boom" struck and T.C. mushroomed rapidly into a thriving town. Humble Oil & Refinery Co. built an oil loading dock, huge tankers came in and out, transporting oil in and out of many 50,000 bbls. Oil tanks, pipelines carried oil inland. Dry cargo began increasing also. We came in with the tide of workers. Fielden was with Texas Oil Co. in Morgan City, La. but a better job was offered here Nov. 2, 1919. He was with Humble Oil until Sept. taking an early retirement. My father moved in with construction workers. We came from Alvin, Tx. 25 miles west of T.C., it was Jan.1920. Fielden and I met 4 days later Jan. 22, 1920, and were married June 22, 1920. Our 45th Anniversary passed this June. I invited you now to our Golden Wedding Anni.-1970!
We have been living in this place 43 yrs. We have gained 5 children, 3 girls and 2 sons, 5 in-law children, 3 boys, 2 girls, 19 grandchildren, 9 girls, 10 boys, and 2 in-law grandsons! We are all together Thanksgivings and most Christmases.
During these years T.C. has weathered many storms, the worst being 1919, 1943 & Carla of 1961- she played havoc, millions in damage but no loss of life. We are (now) the old part of town on a ridge and the water can't reach us.
At 9;12 am on April 16, 1947, T.C. made the world news as a scene of tragedy, terror, horror, and heroism. A French ship, Grandcamp, loading Ammonium Nitrate, a fertilizer, caught fire- presumed by a carelessly discarded lit cigarette! - exploded into bits. The town was rocked. In a split second, 576 were killed 3,500 to 4,000 injured, property damage more than $50 million! It was the worst disaster that ever resulted from the accidental explosion. Hundreds of local people had gone to the dock area and nearby to see the beautiful orange smoke that flowed high from the ship's hole. The Monsanto Rfg. Plant, Texas City Terminal R.R., Humble tanks and facilities- all docks, many other oil companies were destroyed. Hundreds of homes totally destroyed and hundreds damaged. A 15 ft. tidal wave in the harbor flooded the area. The Amer. freighter, High Flyer, berthed 500 away was blown against another, the Wilson B. Keene. The High Flyer blew up at 1:10 am, April 17. More death, damage, and destruction. Shock and confusion followed for weeks and months. School children were thronged out of town, families separated, the living seeking they're dead and missing. Hospitals badly damaged, no water, lights, or supplies, were overrun! Ambulances, undertakers, nurses, doctors, volunteers, R.C. Salv. Army by the hundreds came to our rescue! Communication, Electricity, phones, gas, all facilities are gone, homes were blown apart. People leaving town by the hundreds, fearing the second blast expected momentarily. Makeshift Morgues in blasted High School gym and a 75'x 75' garage (repair) was cleared for rows upon rows of charred bodies wrapped in Army blankets each big toe was tagged as soon as identification was established, waiting to be claimed and buried. Human hearts were so broken, minds so stunned, people couldn't cry.
Standing in long lines waiting their turn to enter the "Morgues" in search of or to claim a body, which they hope to be a father, mother, sister, or perhaps a little brother, who ran as fast as he could down toward the ship so to see "the pretty smoke"! Some were never found.
April 22nd, 1947, after the last hope of identification, was gone, over 5000 people attended burial services for 63 "unknown dead". Texas City had no Cemetery. A Memorial Cemetery N.W. of City was created for this number. The graves are only marked by numbers. Each casket and spray was identical, race and religion were one.
T.C. was a town of 15,000. The population doubled by 1961. Hurricane Carla struck in Sept. 1961. The disaster left broken hearts and broken homes. Carla left broken houses and broken furniture. Today the population is nearly 3500 to 40,000. With NASA midway between Houston & Galveston & only 26 miles (about) from T.C. People from everywhere are moving in. Our town has grown to near City proportions. New business almost every day. 28 of 32 Volunteer firemen were killed while fighting the ships ablaze.
Where were we? Right here. Fielden was sick of flu. The bldg. he worked in was disintegrated instantly. 2 children in school were safe. A daughter, son, and 2 granddaughters drove to the scene, but left and walked in the house 1 minute before the blast. 1 daughter in town was cut slightly, her 2 babies in next room safe, 2 windows above them halted and hung in mid-air all glass intact! I was reading the morning paper. We lost one small window in am. and 1 at the 2nd explosion at 1 am.
Fielden's job ended here. We were transferred to 2 other places, 7 yrs. 75 miles and 33 miles away. Fielden retired and we moved back home Sept. 1956. Have gotten lazier day the day! How thankful we are for God's love and protection.
By Drewy Romine, White :July 22, 1965