STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
And it is Friday morning, which is when we hear from StoryCorps. More than 80,000 Americans have recorded a StoryCorps interview. And through their voices we often hear about forgotten events in this country's history.
For example, the story we'll hear about next. Kenneth Honeycutt grew up in New London, Texas. At StoryCorps he looked back 75 years to an explosion in a school building there. It was caused by a gas leak and claimed the lives of nearly 300 students and teachers.
KENNETH HONEYCUTT: I was very close to the building when it happened. I was eight and in the third grade. My younger brother, Baxter, and I were playing outside, and there was the loudest explosion that you can imagine.
It happened at 3:10 in the afternoon, about 20 minutes before school would have been dismissed. As a matter of fact, all of the school buses were already lined up to take the kids home.
I had a lot of relatives going to school then. My cousin Forrest was in the sixth grade, my Aunt Elson in the 10th grade. Forrest was killed. My Aunt Elson had back injuries, but the major effect on her was emotional. She lived a very anxiety-filled life from then on.
This event seared my brain for life. I can remember almost every detail of it.
And I had led a life of crime up to that point. I had snitched a few things from a grocery store across from us. And I felt that God had punished me by causing this school to blow up. And that remained something that I truly believed, almost until I was an adult. But the effect I still feel today.
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INSKEEP: Kenneth Honeycutt, recalling the New London School explosion of 1937. He told that story to his wife Gaye at StoryCorps in Knoxville, Tennessee. Their interview will be archived with all the others at the American Folk Life Center at the Library of Congress. And you can learn more about what Kenneth witnessed at npr.org.