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Let’s continue our story

This is a continuation of my previous article about the old Savings and Loan Building that once sat on the southwest corner of Commerce and Valley streets.
Mr. Mahaffey survived the explosion by crawling out through the steaming rubble onto the street, severely burned about the hands and face.
From the second floor of the building, 12-year-old Norma Jean Mabe was hurled out through a window and landed on the concrete sidewalk below. She survived , thanks to Bobby Spicer, an across-the-street neighbor. Spicer and his mother had awakened early. He was not fully clothed when the blast across the street sprayed his face with shattered glass. He rushed to the street below, where he saw a woman leaning out of a second-story window, seeking help. Lying on the sidewalk critically injured was Norma Jean Mabe. Without regard for his own safety, Spicer ran across the glass- cluttered street and picked up the girl, amid the cries of the injured and dying, and carried her to safety. When he put her down, his shirt was soaked with the girl’s blood. At the hospital, it was determined that she had a fractured pelvis and internal injuries. She could not be told at the time that her nine- year-old brother and his grandmother, Mrs Helen Denton, had died in the fire.

The two children had come to spend the night with their grandmother and were probably fast asleep when the terrible blast occurred.
An unidentified citizen came by in time to see an elderly lady sliding down a drain pipe from an upper floor. He helped the lady make her descent and to a safe place away from the fire. She was 75-year-old Mrs. Mahaffey, wife of the man who had struck the fatal match to light the stove in the café. From all reports, Mrs Mahaffey was the only person to walk away from the scene without injury. The fact that she reached the ground safely by sliding down the drain pipe was a remarkable and courageous feat for a lady her age. And the fact that the unidentified man was there to help her was a miracle and showed that not many people were there that morning who were wanting to be heroes in the eyes of their fellow citizens. The day of the terrible explosion that morning on Valley Street brought out the very best of many good dedicated citizens of Pulaski and surrounding areas
In an interview for The Southwest Times, Norma Jean told her story as she remembered it. At the date of the interview, she had been married many years to Devoe Gibbons, and by that time, had grandchildren of her own. She remembered, “I went to church the night before (the explosion). My grandmother and little brother stayed at home, and I remember my grandmother unlocking the door and letting me in.”
She remembered the arrangement of the furniture in the apartment, and described the bedroom as being large and cozy, containing things that little boys and girls liked to play with. She said that she went to bed in a three-quarter bed near the window, and that her grandmother and her brother used a large bed across the room.
Norma Jean remembers being jarred into semi-wakefulness and experiencing a sensation of falling, like in a dream. But unlike in a dream, her body crashed against the concrete sidewalk. Amazingly, she lay there conscious and in terrible pain.
She continued, “When the boy picked me up and was carrying me away, I remember looking back and seeing this large boulder-like piece of the building come crashing down and landing right where the boy had picked me up from.”
Her grandmother, 51-year-old Mrs. Helen Denton died in the explosion and fire.
To be continued.
Lloyd Mathews is a retired land surveyor who lives in Pulaski.

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Let’s continue our story

This is a continuation of my previous article about the old Savings and Loan Building that once sat on the southwest corner of Commerce and Valley streets.
Mr. Mahaffey survived the explosion by crawling out through the steaming rubble onto the street, severely burned about the hands and face.
From the second floor of the building, 12-year-old Norma Jean Mabe was hurled out through a window and landed on the concrete sidewalk below. She survived , thanks to Bobby Spicer, an across-the-street neighbor. Spicer and his mother had awakened early. He was not fully clothed when the blast across the street sprayed his face with shattered glass. He rushed to the street below, where he saw a woman leaning out of a second-story window, seeking help. Lying on the sidewalk critically injured was Norma Jean Mabe. Without regard for his own safety, Spicer ran across the glass- cluttered street and picked up the girl, amid the cries of the injured and dying, and carried her to safety. When he put her down, his shirt was soaked with the girl’s blood. At the hospital, it was determined that she had a fractured pelvis and internal injuries. She could not be told at the time that her nine- year-old brother and his grandmother, Mrs Helen Denton, had died in the fire.

The two children had come to spend the night with their grandmother and were probably fast asleep when the terrible blast occurred.
An unidentified citizen came by in time to see an elderly lady sliding down a drain pipe from an upper floor. He helped the lady make her descent and to a safe place away from the fire. She was 75-year-old Mrs. Mahaffey, wife of the man who had struck the fatal match to light the stove in the café. From all reports, Mrs Mahaffey was the only person to walk away from the scene without injury. The fact that she reached the ground safely by sliding down the drain pipe was a remarkable and courageous feat for a lady her age. And the fact that the unidentified man was there to help her was a miracle and showed that not many people were there that morning who were wanting to be heroes in the eyes of their fellow citizens. The day of the terrible explosion that morning on Valley Street brought out the very best of many good dedicated citizens of Pulaski and surrounding areas
In an interview for The Southwest Times, Norma Jean told her story as she remembered it. At the date of the interview, she had been married many years to Devoe Gibbons, and by that time, had grandchildren of her own. She remembered, “I went to church the night before (the explosion). My grandmother and little brother stayed at home, and I remember my grandmother unlocking the door and letting me in.”
She remembered the arrangement of the furniture in the apartment, and described the bedroom as being large and cozy, containing things that little boys and girls liked to play with. She said that she went to bed in a three-quarter bed near the window, and that her grandmother and her brother used a large bed across the room.
Norma Jean remembers being jarred into semi-wakefulness and experiencing a sensation of falling, like in a dream. But unlike in a dream, her body crashed against the concrete sidewalk. Amazingly, she lay there conscious and in terrible pain.
She continued, “When the boy picked me up and was carrying me away, I remember looking back and seeing this large boulder-like piece of the building come crashing down and landing right where the boy had picked me up from.”
Her grandmother, 51-year-old Mrs. Helen Denton died in the explosion and fire.
To be continued.
Lloyd Mathews is a retired land surveyor who lives in Pulaski.

Comments

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