Help Someone Record a Memory

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The other day I got a phone call from a nice woman who had read about our Your Stories project. She wanted to see if we knew about a piece of local World War II history–the 1943 glider crash at Lambert Field. We do. In fact, Channel 9 had done a story about it some years ago. The crash was one of the biggest disasters in St. Louis aviation history–10 people including the mayor of St. Louis and other city officials died when a troop transport glider fell apart during a demonstration flight. I asked the woman why she was checking about this particular bit of history.

Well, it turns out that she witnessed the crash! I was stunned. She had been the first female radio operator (for TWA, I think, although in my surprise I didn’t catch all the details) and worked at Lambert Field. She must have been working in the tower, because she could look down on the crowd watching the demonstration. Her attention was grabbed by the sound of a spontaneous, horrified exclamation from the onlookers. She looked out and saw various pieces of the glider detach and fall to the earth.

She dashed out of her office just in time to catch a woman fainting in the hallway. It turned out to be the wife of the mayor; the poor woman had just watched her husband die.

I told the lady on the phone to please write down her story, or let us videotape her recollection. She demurred. I think the prospect of going public was alarming. “I’m 87!” she protested. And with that she conveyed the idea that she was too old, too tired and too overwhelmed with daily tasks to face dealing  with anything more. She made her phone call; that was enough.

My own mother is 85, so I understand where this woman is coming from. But her story illustrates how important it is to record these memories of history before they are lost forever. If you know of someone with a story to tell, please help them tell it! You don’t have to be Ken Burns or Gore Vidal. We welcome all submissions in any form–write it, type it, video tape it, audio tape it. If you’re reading this now, you can do it!  

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4 Responses to “Help Someone Record a Memory”

  1. In Extraordinary Times, There Are No Ordinary Stories | Ohio War Stories » Blog Archive » WACO Gliders built in Troy Says:

    [...] 87 year old woman who had also witnessed the crash phoned in the story to KETC St Louis this weekend. Posted by robert.paterson Filed in Videos, [...]

  2. robpatrob Says:

    Here is a lot more information about Waco Gliders and the crash in St Louis – posted on the Ohio War Stories Site

    http://www.ohiowarstories.org/wp/?p=26

    The glider in St Louis was made by Robertson’s a subcontractor to Waco. The faulty part by of all things a coffin making firm!

  3. Barbara Martin Says:

    I remember the glider crash because of how it affected me personally. At the time we were living in Jefferson City as my father, Milton M. Kinsey, was serving as chief engineer of the Missouri Public Service Commission. When the mayor and city officials were killed, Alyois Kaufman – then chairman of the Board of Aldermen – became mayor. He had to replace two of the officials and asked my father to come back to St. Louis to become Director of Public Utilities. He later became Chairman of the Board of Public Service, a position also held by my grandfather, E.R. Kinsey, 20 years earlier. My father had served in WWI as an engineer and had volunteer during WWII because of his engineering experience but was not called to active duty.

  4. Margo (Doyne) Saunders Says:

    It is extraordinary that I have just come across the information that you posted about the St.Louis glider crash, and the information about your father. I am the granddaughter of Max Doyne, the Director of Public Utilities who was killed in the crash. Max’s death affected my father deeply (he was 16 or 17 at the time). Max’s friends and colleagues were incredibly kind in looking after my father and and my grandmother for years afterwards. My 2 sons and I now live in Australia, but I have taken them to the St.Louis City Hall (wonderful building!) to see the commemorative plaque with their great-grandfather’s name.

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