Many Americans spent the weekend remembering those lost in the horror of the Sept. 11 attacks. While the TV screen was full of those who were closest to the destruction of the day, and recounting the losses of loved ones and honoring them, it was hard for anyone with a heart not to feel pain at their losses.
I, too, did like most others and thought of where I was that day, and the fright I felt in Winchester.
New York City.
Then the newsman announced that another plane had also flown into the building. Along with that message, I heard it was a possible terrorist attack on the United States. It was then I panicked thinking, “Oh, my God, they may try to destroy other federal buildings in the U.S.”
The Oklahoma City bombing immediately came into my head, and all I could think of was my daughter working in the federal building in Louisville. I was afraid there would be another attack like the one in Oklahoma City, and the terrorist would target as many places as possible.
I told my boss I had to call my daughter in Louisville and, since everyone didn’t carry a cell phone along with them at that time, I was given permission to make my call. I called and told my daughter what I had just heard on the radio. She had not heard of the attack and she immediately informed those in the federal building of the news. I told her to get my granddaughter and leave that place at once, her mom’s orders. They were given the option to go home or stay there. She stuck around for awhile, then she left to watch everything unfolding on TV. Americans won’t ever forget that day.
I visited the scene of the Oklahoma City bombing about two years previous to the World Trade Center attacks, and the sight of little teddy bears against the fences and memorials of chairs of each person who died in the attack were stuck in my mind. I couldn’t bear the thought of my own daughter being blown to bits by an explosion. That fear lingers in my mind even today as she works in the federal building.
Another explosion also lingers in my mind. It is when the lives of my cousins were forever changed on Sept. 10, 1961, from a different kind of explosion.
The day began as a wonderful sunshiny day. I was very sad, since my oldest and only sister would be leaving me to go away to college. It was hard for me to even imagine life without her always being at my side when I needed her. I had cried silent tears for weeks before she left. That particular day we were taking her to Campbellsville Baptist College. We loaded her up and drove the two hours to Campbellsville, unpacked her belongings, shed some tears, and began the long trip back home.
Just as we were about to enter the little community of Kiddville where we lived, my mom was recounting how tired she was, her hope my sister would be OK in college, and how she couldn’t wait to see her bed that night.
We found it a little unusual that all of Kiddville seemed to be extremely quiet at 5 p.m. We noticed no one sitting on the porches, no kids playing up and down the road, nothing that normally took place. In fact, we didn’t see anyone, anywhere. We drove about a half mile down the road and were met at the old Toll Gate house with the neighbors waving their arms and telling us there had been a big explosion, and my daddy’s brother’s family had been terribly burned. They were really not sure if someone had died in the fire or not at that point.
Needless to say, we never saw my home until around 10:30 that night. We learned that a pipeline from the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co.had ruptured. My uncle’s home and his little country store had blown up in the explosion. There was nothing standing where their home and store once were.
Amazingly, there were survivors. Upon hearing this news, we made a quick turn around and my dad was on a mission. My mother started praying and told all of us to pray. We went to hospitals to find out as much as we could. We knew two of the children were badly burned and were in the burn unit at a hospital in Lexington. We were told they were still looking for one or two of the family members, but we later learned that no one had died, even though it was touch and go for a while.
In fact, some of the family stayed with us later that night and during the next week. After we got to bed, my mom worried the children who had been in the fire might have nightmares. Believe it or not, they all slept great. It was me she had to come up the stairs to check on in the middle of the night for screaming.
Two weekends ago, we went to a big reunion at the family farm. We had a fun day. My cousin who had been burned so badly and scarred for life was there giving golf cart rides all over the farm to the kids. Patricia Ann is now a nurse at the University of Kentucky hospital. I am sure the decision to be a nurse could be as a result of the explosion.
Her brother who was in the same room at the hospital with her, was there, too. Though he was not scarred or burned as badly as she was, I can’t imagine what they must do when they hear a loud boom.
All eight of the children were there with my aunt. My uncle died last year.
The fire left its mark on their lives for a lifetime.
I have to say it also left its mark on me. After I got married and was pregnant with my first child, I was awakened at 3 a.m. and it looked like daylight outside. There was a loud roar and I became very frightened. We lived within a few miles of the Tennessee Gas transmission plant in Powell County, and I just knew it was going to explode. I kept thinking of my cousins in the fire. I remember my mother-in-law at the time telling my husband he was to take me and drive away from there before I marked the baby. She kept telling me “don’t touch your face, don’t touch your face.” She was afraid I would cause a red mark on the baby’s face.
He did take me driving until the bright light went away and I got calmed down. My daughter was born with a red mark on the crown of her head, but once her hair came in you could no longer see it. I often think if the explosion impacted my life that much, it must have had an even larger impact on my cousins. what an impact it probably has left on my cousins lives.
One never knows what events will take place in life, but I will say one thing — caring people and Americans will always help and be there for each other.
Down the Lane