Marietta, GA Drug Store Explosion, Oct 1963
Gas Believed Tragedy Cause In Georgia.
MARIETTA, Ga. (UPI) - An explosion shattered a drug store crowded with shoppers and dressed in Halloween costumes Thursday night, killing at least six persons and injuring 50 others.
Rescue workers dug frantically into the building while scores of children still dressed in grotesque Halloween outfits milled around in glass and debris that littered the area.
Three women and two men were dead on arrival Kennestone Hospital and more than an hour after the blast firemen found another body buried in the wreckage.
The explosion, believed caused by an accumulation of gas smashed ATHERTON'S drug store in this suburban Atlanta city with such force that it sent shoppers and pedestrians outside tumbling like tenpins.
"One minute the store was there and the next minute it wasn't,"said pharmacist BOB POOLE who was on duty when the explosion occurred. He was not hurt.
Photographer BUSTER CROWE arrived at the scene minutes after the blast interrupted an informal Halloween parade around the city square.
"There were Halloween candy and masks all over the street," CROWE said.
A wall of the two-story building was weakened by the explosion and the area was roped off to keep back hundreds of spectators.
Twenty-five persons were admitted to Kennestone Hospital. Several were reported in critical condition and a spokesman said some were not expected to live.
Glass was hurled a block and a half away and a display of children's football helmets was scattered in the street outside the drugstore, a popular hangout for teen-agers in the city of 25,000.
Most of the injured apparently were adults.
Kennestone identified five of the dead as JOE BEN CARTER, MRS. RALPH FOWLER, MRS. MARIE BUTLER, S. A. WHITE and BETTY CARLYLE.
The sixth victim was identified as MRS. OTHILA SCOTT. Her husband, CHARLES SCOTT, was critically injured and was in the Kennestone operating room more than three hours after the explosion.
MRS. FOWLER was the wife of a prominent Marietta physician and mother of ROBERT FOWLER, editor of the Marietta Daily Journal.
WHITE was a prominent businessman.
Fire Capt. FRED ADDISON said a 7-year-old boy was believed trapped in the wreckage of the demolished store. The youth was believed to have been shopping with his father who was killed.
The bottom floor of the two-story building was destroyed and the second floor was heavily damaged.
More than two hours after the explosion, which ripped out the front of the drug store, helmeted rescue workers were still digging in the wreckage.
Windows in nearby stores were smashed. One witness said "all the buildings shook."
Small children dressed in outlandish and grotesque Halloween costumes milled around the area while rescuers dug into the debris trying to determine if others were still trapped.
Police roped off the area after a wall weakened by the blast threatened to collapse.
"There were Halloween candy and masks all over the street," one witness said.
An informal Halloween parade was about to begin around a square on which the drug store was located when the blast occurred.
Kennestone Hospital reported it was treating at least 50 persons injured in the explosion which occurred about 6:24 p. m. EST.
The Anderson Herald Indiana 1963-11-01
Researched and Transcribed by Stu Beitler. Thank you, Stu!