Archive for Wednesday, November 29, 2006

John’s Memories

November 29, 2006

Editor's note: This is one in a series of historical pieces by John Cass Lenahan, who recently retired from a long career in the hardware business. Lenahan is author of two books on Tonganoxie history.

In July 1957, Hick's Pool Hall caved in when the west wall gave way. It was a two-story building with a basement approximately where the post office currently is.

This structure was completely destroyed, along with Conley's Barber Shop, Tonganoxie Cleaners and Opal's Cafe. This was the worst disaster in Tonganoxie, since the children burned to death in the Jones Hotel, which had been toward the east end of Fourth Street.

There was a very sad community, when it was reported that three people died in the pool hall disaster.

The part that the media missed was the daring action of Dr. David Parker. He fought his way through the sinking floor to the basement, with his medical bag, to see if he could be of any help to the victims most injured.

The firemen tried to discourage Doc, but he entered the collapsed building and disappeared in the rubble.

I arrived on the scene just as the injured and dead were being removed.

This is what I remember but it is not my story. The details were passed onto me by my good friend, the late Jack Himpel, who was the fire chief at the time.

Eventually, the post office and The Mirror newspaper building were constructed on these lots.

-- John Cass Lenahan

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