A dark day in Smalltown USA.

This is the post I’ve been avoiding writing. I didn’t want to dwell, but feel the need to record what was a shocking and sad day in my hometown.

Our historic, picturesque little downtown blew up.

The blast took with it a beloved local bar, a restaurant, an art gallery, and a children’s store. In an instant that fateful morning, four buildings that had stood over 100 years … vanished. Windows as far as five blocks away were blown out. And adjacent buildings lucky enough to still be standing were quickly ravaged by fire.

MP and I were in the car, driving to town minutes after it happened. She pointed out the massive black plume visible 10 miles in the distance. My first thought was that a plane had gone down. We heard otherwise as we walked through the door to her preschool.

Once at work, information began pouring in. I learned the art gallery was affected and immediately thought of Tara, an employee. I knew her because my dad was a long-time exhibiting artist. I knew her because she was the little sister of a boy I went to high school with.

I called Bobo, told him the news, and expressed my concern about Tara. “Naah,” Bobo said. “They were never in before 10. She’s fine.”

Only she wasn’t. Tara had gotten to work early that morning, and was talking to her friend on the phone when the line went dead. People have speculated that’s when she flipped a light switch that ignited a natural gas leak, although no one really knows. It took three days to recover her body.

Amazingly, Tara was the only one to die. Had the explosion happened 12 hours later, it would’ve taken with it a bar and restaurant full of patrons. It’s hard to think about. The ‘what-ifs’ are too heavy.

Just three days prior, The Boy and I were in the bar that’s no longer there. Having a beer and a shot on a Monday afternoon.


This could very well be the last photo that was taken inside those walls. Damn, life is short.


Filed under Left To Pick Up The Pieces

27 responses to “A dark day in Smalltown USA.

  1. I’m extremely saddened to hear about your friend. Life absolutely can be very short…and something like this serves as a reminder to make the very most of the time you have.

  2. I am very sorry for your loss.
    So sudden. So sad.

    And I am sorry for the loss of all those establishments.

    Sometimes. Life just sucks.

  3. another co-worker

    You see that Honda in the far left corner of the photo? It belongs to my friend Shana. Her boyfriend parked it there the night before because he’d had too much to drink at the bar. Now he’s in BIG trouble.

    And I had one of the last $5 martinis at Boodles the night before it blew up. Crazy.

  4. So very sorry, Mommy Pie. Read about the explosion but missed the fact that your town lost a person in the explosion. So very sorry.

  5. Heard about this and saw your tweet. I know the places now gone meant a lot to you. Also, I’m so sorry someone — and someone you knew to boot — was lost in the explosion.

    I’m happy however that the toll was not higher.

  6. What a terrible story, in every way. Your post really struck me silent, and I just wanted to say I’m sorry.

    Thank you for coming by my blog, and for the swapmama tip. I think you might be right — and I might be hooked.

  7. Life can be so weirdly inexplicable. Every time I hear a story like yours I am dragged back into thinking about fate, the way I did when my husband also suffered from the fate of bad timing.

    The only real conclusion I ever come to is that a) life sucks and b) life is short and you better live it to the fullest. I know they seem to contradict each other, but maybe that leads to c) life is one big huge messy oxymoron.

    I am sorry for the shock and grief you must be feeling both for your friend and the places you once loved.

  8. wow. So sorry MommyPie. So sorry.

  9. First off how your whole town is in my thoughts and prayers. Also I have been a fan of your blog for awhile now, I finally got brave enough to comment.

  10. Oh wow. Certainly puts things in perspective, doesn’t it? I’m so sorry to hear that someone lost their life. You really never know when it will be your time. My thoughts are with you.

  11. I am so sorry for the loss of your friend and for the devastation in your hometown. I’m sending a *hug* and my condolences.

  12. How frightening. I’m so sorry.

  13. Oh my goodness. How awful. I can’t even begin to imagine how something like this must effect a community. That’s awful that the young woman lost her life but as you said thankfully it wasn’t later in the day when there would have been more people in the establishments.

  14. Oh, dear Mommypie. So very sorry, and so very stunned. What a tragic thing for everyone involved and everyone it touched. Going to give some hugs now and sending up prayers.

  15. Wow, I’m so sorry. It’s amazing how much things can change in only the blink of an eye. My heart goes out to all of Tara’s family and friends, plus everyone in your small town who is suffering the loss of all those establishments.

    PS–LOVE your blog. 🙂

  16. p.s. I also wanted to tell you that a blog friend and I are cohosting a spring rolled-hem hankie swap, and I thought this might appeal to your inner swapmonster.


  17. I have been tied up in my own little world of germs and misery and missed this initial post. I’m so very sorry for your loss. How tragic. And how instantaneously it can all change. Just like that.

    I’m sorry for not only the loss of your friend, but for the loss that’s happened in your community…your small piece of the world.

  18. Your downtown looks so much like my downtown. Terribly sad, all around. 😦

  19. How terrifying. I’m so sorry for you, your town and the trauma. Sending hugs.

  20. So awful. I’m so sorry. I just wish I could help or hug you, or something.

  21. I’m so, so sorry MP. For you, your town and Tara’s family.

  22. Thank you everyone for your good thoughts. The town is slowly healing, but the memory of that day and it’s tragic outcome will certainly be burned in every resident’s mind for many years to come.

  23. Very scary! My condolences …

  24. Gads. Sorry to hear about your friend and how spooky in thinking that that photo is the last one taken in the local haunt. Shiver.

  25. This is my first visit to your blog, but I’d still like to say sorry for your, and your towns loss.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s