On the morning of December 5th, 1957, a major natural gas explosion occurred in the basement of Berry Pharmacy in Villa Rica, Georgia here in the United States. The blast was so large that it leveled an entire city block, killing 12 people and severely injuring 20. It was the largest disaster in Carroll County Georgia’s history, according to the historical plaque located outside the restored pharmacy building. Here is a brief YouTube video of a 1957 newsreel played in many movie theaters at the time: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wpe9V4pzUVY.
On December 5th, 2007, my wife Norma and I drove over to Villa Rica from the neighboring city of Douglasville to attend and capture the 50th anniversary ceremony in remembrance of this great tragedy. A large number of people still connected to the disaster appeared that chilly December day and participated in an exceptionally somber yet joyous celebration. This slice of Villa Rican history illustrates the strength, spirit and soul of a small town with timeless integrity.
Here is the front panel from the 54 minute video created by ArtonDisk.com. You may order a High Definition DVD of the 50th anniversary ceremony if you would like a permanent copy. The link will take you to ArtonDisk.com where you should click in the right sidebar to purchase the DVD. It will be sent to you in about 5 business days or less. The video includes a copy of the program from that day’s events.
Throughout the ceremony, the speakers are backlit and appear as mournful silhouettes. While this effect is the accidental result of working with a new high definition video camera set on "automatic," it lends itself to the overwhelming sadness and deeply felt meaning of the event.
The celebration inside the new Berry Pharmacy immediately after the ceremony was overwhelmingly joyous. I’ve never liked the word "closure" but there was a sense of framing the past and creating new beginnings for Villa Rica that day.
We hope you find tremendous value in this 54 minute video. Thank you to all who participated that wonderful day. Richard and Norma Nichols
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Filed as Villa Rica