Wednesday, October 24, 2018
This is Kathy Fiscus, a darling little girl who lost her life way too early but in a way that probably more people in the United States knew of it than any other loss up to that time. You will understand that by the time you read her story.
She, a three-year-old, her five year old cousin, and her 9 year old sister lived in San Marino, California, and on the day of August 8, 1949 the three of them were playing in a vacant lot near her home. Suddenly the older two kids heard some faint screaming; Kathy was nowhere to be seen, but the kids ran toward the source of the screaming and discovered she had fallen through open hole - an abandoned well - in the ground, about 14 inches across and very deep, hidden by a clump of weeds and obviously long forgotten. They ran home to alert Kathy's mother, who ran quickly to the hole and called Kathy's name. She asked Kathy if she was ok, and her little daughter answered "Yes." That was the only and last word ever heard from her.
The story of the her rescue operation, which lasted 3 days, is well documented in news and visual media and it is worth looking up and re-reading. Television was in its infancy, and there is still a smallish group of people alive who sat glued to their new television set for three days, until her little body was finally brought to the surface. She was pronounced dead on April 10, 1949, but it is felt she actually drowned in the water accumulated in that old well shortly after she spoke her last word to her mother - "Yes."
Everyone from family to rescue personnel to volunteer workers on large and small equipment, to movie studios who sent large floodlights were so hopeful of a good result, and as with them, we who watched this event on TV all ended with broken hearts.
There is no good thing that can be said to come from such a terrible loss, but there was one major law enacted across our nation - "Kathy Fiscus Laws" - that requires all abandoned wells to be capped and filled in.
Although there are still a few of us who were alive during this time, it seems somehow improper to label little blond Kathy as an IMMORTAL NOBODY. But my thinking is that once we leave this place, her short life and her name are simply apt to be forgotten. So I gladly consider her a perfect candidate for an IMMORTAL NOBODY, and I would really encourage you to use the internet's wonderful resources to read and see the full story of Kathy Fiscus.
Sunday, October 7, 2018
LILLIE AND RAYMOND MONROE
Clinton, Kansas - June 1917
"The fateful day, June 5, 1917, dawned hot and sultry, without a cloud in the sky. Popular wartime songs such as "Over There" vibrated from Gramophones, and the Clinton Draft Board had set up operations in the Community Hall (formerly the Congregational Church). Sometime after four o'clock, Merritt Woodward noticed a dome of angry clouds forming off to the west, and he decided to keep an eye on them.... Will Cummings, who had been injured by his horse, fretted in bed over his helplessness; the Monroe boy, whose parents worked for the Cummings, skipped to the Hout farm to get a bucket of milk for supper....
"Somewhat later, Merritt Woodward glanced again at the threatening cloud and discovered that its dark billows were swelling rapidly and soon would engulf the town....Suddenly the emergency was there, and no time was left for deliberation. Emma Cummings ...somehow, with her young daughter, conveyed hefty Will Cummings down the basement stairs and were helping him into a chair as the tornado hit. The Monroe boy, terrified, raced toward home, sloshing milk down his legs as he ran.
"Raymond's father, Green Monroe, also saw it coming, but it took him longer than he intended to lead the Cummings' four horses into the barn and tie them securely to a manger. As the fury struck, he decided not to run for the house. It was well he did, for although the barn was totally destroyed in the violence that followed, Monroe, the manger and the four horses were left unhurt. Monroe's family was not so fortunate. His wife, Lillie, was killed, as their house was shattered by the wind, and his son, who didn't quite make it home from Hout's, was struck by a two-by-four and fatally injured...."
The storm passed.
"The two Monroe victims were solemnly carried to the Methodist Church were Dr. Beach examined them and pronounced them dead. There they lay in state for townspeople to view and remember as a grim symbol of the fearsome power of nature.
"Why the tornado destroyed one building and not another, why it killed or injured so few people, and why it missed Bloomington altogether were questions pondered by Clinton residents as they cleared away the rubble and began to rebuild their town."
From Soil of Our Souls: Histories of the Clinton Lake Area Communities" by Martha Parker and Betty Laird, Parker-Laird Enterprises, 1980.