Queen Price's wooden shoes

Sad evidence in the wake of disaster

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On Thursday, March 18, 1937, the school day was winding down at the New London consolidated school in east Texas. At 3:15 p.m., just 15 minutes before the final bell, an explosion lifted the building into the air. Instantaneously, the school collapsed onto itself, trapping and crushing the students and staff inside. Nearly 300 students and teachers died that Thursday, including music teacher Queen Price, the owner of these wooden shoes.

On the morning of the explosion, Queen Price had breakfast with her brother, Bud Price. As they parted ways, she told him she would be home early that day and had something important to tell him that night. When he walked her to her car, he noticed this pair of wooden shoes on the front seat. Later, when Bud heard about the explosion, he rushed to the school to find his sister. He assumed she was safely home when he could not find her car, and began to assist with the rescue efforts. As he helped carry a window frame that was being used as a makeshift stretcher, he walked by a car crushed by a large concrete slab. The car was unrecognizable, but glancing inside Bud saw the wooden shoes. Queen Price did not go home early that day as planned. She died inside the school.

In the days following the tragedy, investigators determined that the explosion had been caused by natural gas leaking beneath the building. The odorless oxygen-gas mixture accumulated undetected until a spark in the school’s industrial-arts shop triggered the explosion. As a result of the explosion, the Texas Railroad Commission approved an order that all natural gas intended for domestic or industrial use had to be odorized. The strong sulfur smell warned all future natural gas users of a gas leak, saving countless lives.

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Queen Price's wooden shoes Artifact from New London
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