1957 VR gas Explosion
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John D Smith


#1 Feb 6, 2007
Any remembrances of the gas explosion in 1957 which occurred 50 years ago in downtown Villa Rica in December?
Dale Morris


#2 Mar 27, 2007
Yes, I remember it well. I was 5 years old & we lived on Wilson Street, which is in town. I was playing on the back porch when all of a sudden the whole house shook. My Mom & I were at home alone because my older sister, Carolyn, was in school & my Dad was a truck driver & was out of town. I remember seeing the bricks & debris flying up in the air and then the sirens & emergency vehicles started. My Mom called the school, finally getting through after a number of tries but they wouldn't let her come to pick my sister up because of all the emergency vehicles. It was lunch time & a lot of folks at lunch at the counter. My aunt had just left to go back to work from picking up lunches for some people that she worked with at one of the hosiery mills. A lot of good people lost their lives that day and it was a tragic event. In such small town, everybody knew someone that was affected.
Bennett Stein

Washington, DC

#3 Apr 12, 2007
I was 6 at the time but remember my family going into shock, as my 26 year old uncle Carl Vitner was killed there. He was just out of Emory with a pharmacy degree and was selling to the drug store. All my aunts and uncle (his brother and 2 sisters-one my Mom) are gone now. Uncle Carl had a 2 year old baby who never new him; I don't know what his wife feels about it, as she's remarried and not close; but to me, no one else is left with his memory. His loss makes no sense to me.
Ray Hollis

Atlanta, GA

#4 May 22, 2007
I remember it well, one of my class mates Bobby Roberts was killed.
John D Smith


#5 Jun 10, 2007
Ray Hollis wrote:
I remember it well, one of my class mates Bobby Roberts was killed.
Bobby Roberts was one of my friends, Ray. Bobby was in the 8th grade at the time and was part of a Carroll County all-star football team (coached by David Parkman) that practiced in Carrollton. At the Carrollton-Avondale game that was played later in December that year in Atlanta on Grant Field, Bobby was recognized by a moment of silence and prayer before the kickoff. I believe Bobby was at the drugstore(Berry's) for a dental appointment at the time of the explosion. John D Smith.
Elaine Loyd Bowling

Loganville, GA

#6 Aug 9, 2007
My father, Henry (known as Junior)Loyd narrowly missed being in Berry's drugstore at the time of the explosion. He worked at the post office & was making the morning mail collection from businesses. He would frequently take a break at the soda foutain in the drugstore, but was a bit late that morning & skipped the the stop at the drugstore. He was just up the street when the explosion occurred. My family always remembered this day.
Judy Blackwell

Atlanta, GA

#7 Dec 5, 2007
Hi Bennett. Please e-mail me at Jblackwell@morrisandraper.com I attended the 50th anniversary ceremony today, and have a program and some pictures of a stone with your Uncle's name on it.
Stacy Jackson

Clearwater, FL

#8 Dec 6, 2007
Hello. I attended yesterday's ceremony. My grandfather, Oscar Hixon, was killed in the explosion. My mother was a very young girl when it happened, so obviously I never knew him. That always bothered me. I loved his parents (my great-grandparents), Guy and Addie Hixon, very much. They were so important to me when I was growing up. Just wondered if anyone reading here knew Oscar Hixon. What was he like? My email is stacy_jackson@yahoo.com.

Buddy Harrison

Manama, Bahrain

#9 Dec 7, 2007
Hello, Stacy. While I knew Oscar, I do not remember enough to help you with the details you seek. His son John and I were classmates. I remember the day and the events very well. My grandfather, O.T. Dyer, and my uncle, Johnny Dyer, were both with Oscar that morning and were lost. I last visited VR when a granite marker was placed to insure the event and those lost would be remembered. Many lives were changed that morning.

Baton Rouge, LA

#10 Aug 26, 2008
I will never forget that horrible day. My Cousin
Bobby Roberts (he was like a brother to me) was killed while at a dental appointment. He was a great kid and a wonderful friend. I will miss him forever. It left a huge void in our family.

I don't remember Carols last name but she had taken Bobby to dentist because his mom was taking care of my mother after surgery. WE also miss her.

Since: Feb 08

Douglasville, Georgia

#11 Sep 20, 2008
Much of the debris from the explosion is now buried under the playground behind Villa Rica Elementary. If you go down behind the playground you can look up and see the debris sticking out from where it was bulldozed and covered. I taught social studies at the elementary school and used to take kids down to view the debris during the first week of school. I used the activity to motivate the kids to learn more of their local history....many of the kids are new to the area and even many of the kids who had spent most of their lives in Villa Rica knew nothing of this terrible event.


#12 Sep 21, 2008
I grew up in Villa Rica, now I live in Bellingham, Wa. I found this web site and one on Villa Rica, this is the first time I've heard of it, the last tragedy I heard of from VR was the fire at Max's drug store in the late 1980's.
J D Smith


#13 Oct 4, 2008
Survivor of 1957 VR Gas explosion James Harrison


Mr. James Thomas Harrison, 81, of Villa Rica, Ga., passed away Wednesday, October 1, 2008 at his residence.

Mr. Harrison was born March 5, 1927 in Villa Rica, Georgia, the son of the late Mr. Bernard Allen Harrison and the late Mrs. Flossie Pearl Lewis Harrison.

Mr. Harrison was a member of the First Baptist Church of Villa Rica for over 60 years where he was ordained as a deacon at the age of 19 and he served as church trustee for many years. He was a member of the Unity Sunday School Class. He was a 1944 graduate of Villa Rica High School. He served in the U.S. Navy as a Medic.

He was a 1950 graduate of Mercer University’s Southern School of Pharmacy. He earned his doctorate in pharmacy from the State of Florida. He married Madolyn Manning on December 26, 1951. Mr. Harrison owned and operated Carroll Road Pharmacy and served the community as a pharmacist for over 30 years.

He was a survivor of the Villa Rica Explosion that occurred in 1957 and assisted those injured. He was past president of the West Georgia Pharmacy Association and was a member and held office in the Georgia Pharmacy Association. He was an Emeritus member of the Villa Rica Masonic Lodge #72 F&AM where he was a member for over 60 years. Mr. Harrison was an avid Atlanta Braves fan.

In addition to his parents, Mr. Harrison was preceded in death by his wife, Madolyn Manning Harrison in July, 2007; his daughter, Cynthia Harrison Clary; his brothers, Lewis Glenn Harrison, Victor Horace Harrison, Willard Eldridge Harrison, John Hiram Harrison and Harold Eugene Harrison; his sisters, Barbara Faye Harrison Williams, Sarah Nell Harrison Roberds, Maureen Harrison Hulse and Effie Lucielle Harrison Carnes.

Survivors include his daughters and sons-in-law, Suzanne and Gary Watson, Lorie Harrison and Katie and Rufus Chism, all of Villa Rica; his grandchildren, Kelli Watson Blankenship and her husband, David Blankenship, Hayley Harrison Watson and James Maliek Chism, all of Villa Rica; his brother-in-law, Robert Roberds of Villa Rica and several nieces and nephews also survive.

Funeral Services will be conducted Saturday, October 4, 2008, at 2 p.m. from the Chapel of Jones-Wynn Funeral Home in Villa Rica with Rev. Jeff Jones officiating. Musical selections will be rendered by Greg Hendrix and Charles Cole. Interment will follow in the Garden of the Cross at Meadowbrook Memory Gardens on Hickory Level Road with the following serving as pallbearers: Randy Williams, Billy Adair, Richard Roberds, Danny Phillips, Rick Stephens, and Lawrence Kilgore. Serving as Honorary Pallbearers will be members of the Villa Rica High School Class of 1944 and members of the Unity Sunday School Class.

The family will receive friends at Jones-Wynn Funeral Home in Villa Rica on Friday, October 3, 2008, from 4 to 8 p.m..

Messages of condolence may be sent to the family at www.jones-wynn.com .

Jones-Wynn Funeral Home, Villa Rica.

“Home In Georgia Now”

Since: Jul 07

The "City of Gold" in Georgia

#14 Oct 5, 2008
I grew up in Villa Rica and am proud to call it my home. I remember the explosion from articles I read as I grew up and the stories from my father who responded to the tragedy that day. I see some names I remember, like Mr. Hollis. I grew up in the housing project and his brother, Ricky was one of my best friends. I wanted to attend the dedication of the marker but was unable to do so.
Lynn Hassett

Atlanta, GA

#15 Nov 26, 2008
My father, Carl Vitner, was killed in that explosion. I was about 6 months old at the time. Although I do not remember him, this event changed my life forever. I guess no one from Villa Rica knew him - he was just there for a visit. I wish I had gone to the ceremony and will certainly visit the marker.
Ricky Hammond Bowdon Ga

Athens, GA

#16 Dec 14, 2008
I was five years old when this happened. my mother and i had went with my daddy,Ray Hammond which was a salesman for Roop wholesales company in Bowdon that day. He had just worked the store and had come out before explosion. Me and my mother had been walking around window shopping and had just gotten into the car. When it exploded i remember our car coming off the ground. We had to stay for a long time, because we could not get out.

Since: Feb 08

Douglasville, Georgia

#17 Dec 28, 2008
I posted earlier here regarding the explosion debris that lies underneath the playground at Villa Rica Elementary.

Recently I found a 1997 Douglas Sentinel article about the explosion. I decided to reprint it with some other details at one of my blogs. You can see the article at the link below:

Perry Bailey

Huntsville, AL

#18 Dec 29, 2008
Villa Rica Explosion 1957 Watch Video live on youtube.

Villa Rica Explosion 1957 on youtube!! Watch Video.

Since: Feb 08

Douglasville, Georgia

#19 Dec 29, 2008
Perry Bailey wrote:
Villa Rica Explosion 1957 Watch Video live on youtube.
Villa Rica Explosion 1957 on youtube!! Watch Video.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v =wpe9V4pzUVYXX
Thank you so much for the link. Wow...is all I can say. I'm off to embed the video in my post, so I have it all together.

It's hard to imagine the maginitude of the blast without that video.
Perry Bailey

Huntsville, AL

#20 Dec 30, 2008
elementaryhistor yteacher, You are very welcome! Elaine Bailey of Douglasville,Ga is writing a book about the events and the 1957 Villa Rica explosion. If you can get a paper from the Villa Rica news paper or the west Georgian news paper of two or 3 weeks ago it tells about her up coming book about the explosion. I can't wait to read the book and who knows some one might make a movie of it.

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