Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Plain Dealing School Struck by Lightning

Plain Dealing High School, c1920s. Virginia Crawford Collection: 1998.055.005.

On Jan 6, 1949, the following article appeared in the Plain Dealing Progress. “During an unusual display of Jupiter Pluvius’ wrath on last Monday afternoon at about three o’clock, a direct hit was made by one of his electric bolts on the northwest corner of the primary building, which is a strongly built brick structure erected about 1920.

“Fortunately the children were all inside the building and the jolt, though very severe, did rather minor injury to the building, and most happily resulted in no serious hurt to any of the children or school personnel. The fourth grade room of Mrs. G. H. Crawford, which is directly contiguous to the location of the hit, was the most severely jolted and several of the children were considerably dazed or stunned. Shirley Morgan, daughter of Mr. And Mrs. James Morgan, of the Pleasant Hill community, and Bobby Joe Walker, son of Mr. And Mrs. Henry Walker, of Miller’s Bluff, seem to have received the severest shocks, the former having evidence of a slight burn on the arm. It was exceedingly fortunate for Mrs. Crawford that she was not seated at her desk, which is in the corner of the room directly beneath where the lightning struck.

“Oddly enough, the most tangible evidence of the mighty force of the electrical phenomenon was the fact that both Rev. And Mrs. M. D. Felder, in their parsonage home, some 300 feet from the center of the stroke, received what was apparently direct hits from one of the radiating flaming forks that are usually in evidence on such detonations. Mr. Felder was reading a paper which fell from his hand as his arm dropped limp to his side at the stroke and Mrs. Felder, at the kitchen sink, receiced [sic] a definitely palpable injury to her left side which was still bothering her as late as Wednesday.

“The physical damage to the building was confined to the toppling of several score of bricks from the top corner of the structure and the cracking of quite a few window panes, the exact number of which cannot be ascertained, due to the fact that in 1928, during Plain Dealing’s worst hail storm, over fifty panes then received minor cracks. As may be recalled, very many hail stones practically as large as hen eggs littered the ground and pounded on the windows that afternoon, the same building bearing the brunt of the hail stone barrage.

“It must be said in praise and credit to all the pupils and teachers that though the explosing [sic] and shock was terrific, nothing resembling a panicky situation resulted, even Mrs. Crawford’s pupils allowing her to leave the room to return with a report of the damage, with no ado whatever.

“Other storm damage about Plain Dealing was slight. Some wind, hail and rain, with electrical disturbances most noticeable. Lights were out until 2 a.m. Tuesday.”

That same storm produced a tornado that touched down near Benton, overturning an unoccupied house and damaging several others on Dr. J. H. Wynne's farm. Another larger house nearby was moved several inches on the foundation. The tornado damaged many homes, but there were no injuries, and no lives were lost

By: Amy Robertson

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