By Sara Mosle, NYTIMES Magazine
On a country highway in the tiny town of New London, Tex., sits a small tea shop and a museum that houses the collective grief of a community that lost its children. On the afternoon of March 18, 1937, the London Consolidated School exploded a few minutes before classes were to be dismissed. An odorless cloud of natural gas had leaked from a faulty heating system into the building’s unventilated basement and ignited, most likely from a spark from the school’s shop class.
According to witnesses, the school appeared to blast off its foundation and hover in the air before collapsing again, generating clouds of ash and debris that plowed across the schoolyard. Scores of mothers, who had been attending a P.T.A. meeting in the nearby wood gymnasium, staggered out into a blizzard of whirling papers and pulverized mortar. When the dust settled, approximately 300 people were dead, nearly all of them children...
Read the article: The Lives Unlived in Newtown
...In the months before the 1937 explosion, state fire regulators tried to raise the alarm about the perils of natural gas, but it took the death of schoolchildren to impel politicians to act. Within days of the disaster, Texas legislators went into emergency session to promote the addition of a “malodorant” to natural gas, which has since saved countless lives.