Wednesday, June 17, 2015

A Tragic Accident and the Amazing Kindness of a Community

By Terry (Warren) Orr

This story took place 62 years ago - thanks to family members going through boxes of family belongings and researching the Internet we have been able to piece together our story.

Over sixty years ago my family was involved in a horrible vehicle accident killing two and injuring the other four passengers. This accident took place near a small rural town of Kincaid, Kansas. The nearest hospital was ‘New Allen County Hospital’ (which open earlier that year) in Iola, Kansas.

My Father recently turned 27, Mom was 26, I was 6, my sister 5, brother 3, and a baby brother was just one day shy of being two months old. We were returning home to Wichita from Kansas City after visiting our grandmother and to make final preparations for moving back there, as Dad has accepted a new position. 

Around 1:20pm, that afternoon on November 5, 1952 a 1940 Chevy pick up made a left-hand turn in front of us. Mom and the baby were killed instantly, my sister and father suffered serious injuries, while my brother and I suffered non-life threatening injuries.

On the following day after this accident, the Iola Register newspaper wrote two articles - first article was on page one, “Two Die in Crash at Kincaid” that described what had happen; and the second article found on page four titled "Preventable Tragedies" - which is provided below.

The Iola Register
Thursday, November 6, 1952
Page 4

Preventable Tragedies

The report in today's paper of the Kincaid accident, which cost two lives, indicated that the whole cause was poor eyesight on the part of one of the drivers.

If that is the case - how much longer is Kansas going to persist in a drivers' license law, which permits indefinite, automatic renewal without even the most cursory yearly physical examination?

It would cost quite a bit of money. But how much is a life worth - if it happens to be a member of your own family?

Curiously enough, there always seems to be considerable sympathy for any elderly man who involves himself in a wreck through his infirmities, even when that wreck mains or kills others.

"After all," they say, "the old man has to get around. He has to make a living, doesn't he?"

There are two answers to that.

The first is an unequivocal no. He doesn't have to get around and he doesn't have to make a living if his physical handicaps are so great that he can't do so without endangering the lives of others.  He can stay home and the state will take care of him. Or he can do something that doesn't require driving a car or truck.

The second is that an examination might turn a dangerous driver into a safe one by the simple expedient of requiring him to buy a pair of eyeglasses.

It is amazing the number of people who slide from good vision into bad so slowly that they don't realize the seriousness of the impairment that has taken place. This is especially true of near-sighed people who find their eyes good enough for everything they do with their hands but who have become so accustomed to a fuzzy distance vision that they jus think nothing about it.

Until they pull across the road in front of an approaching automobile they didn't see!

I suggest the legislature give this matter some mighty serious attention. A given number of strictly preventable tragedies will continue each month until it does.

While the author was not identified, this article is spot on and is as true today as it was 62 years ago.

On December 24, 1952, the Iola Register on page 1, published a Christmas card they received from our Grandmother, which read in part:

"We shall never forget the unusual kindness shown us following the death of our daughter-in-law and grandson, Mrs. W.C. Orr and infant, in an automobile accident near Kincaid," writes Mrs. Hodges, "nor the splendid treatment given her husband and their three children at the Allen County Hospital. May God Bless your wonderful town."

On January 1, 1953, The Register published an additional article related to our journey, “The Holloways Entertain at a Steak Dinner” from page one, that read:

A New Years Eve party and steak dinner was given last night at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Milt Holloway in Gas City for the tenants of their apartment house at 421 South Walnut in Iola.  Following the dinner David Holloway entertained the group with several vocal selections with Ruth Holloway at the piano.

Those present were Mrs. Pat Smith and her daughter Jeannie, Mrs. Eric Spicer, Miss Ida Perkins, Miss Ruby McCloud, Herschel Perry, Mrs. Mary Parkins and her sons Dickie and Allen all of Iola. Mr. and Mrs. Duane Canady and Sherry of Lawrence, Miss Margaret Tenny, and the three Orr children, Dwight, Lynn and Warren of LaCygne, who have been guest in the Holloway home for the past several days, and Mr. and Mrs. Holloway and their children Milton Jr., Elta Mae, Ruth, David and Steven.

Thank you Mr. and Mrs. Milton Holloway and family taking us in and making that evening very special.

Thank you Doctor Eugene Myers for taking such wonderful care of us.

Thank you each and every one of those exceptional individuals, families and communities for all that you did, offered to do and your love and support for our family.

With any event - there are always multiple perspectives, different memories, and certainly different facts and information that is processed uniquely to each person. This is my account of these events based upon: newspaper articles; passed along to me by my Father, Grandmothers, Aunt, and inputs from several immediate and extended family members.

We remain grateful, thankful, blessed and strengthen by the support, understanding, love and guidance given by so many.  To those generous people of Kansas – who provided so much during our recovery – words alone – simply can not expresses our thanks. For our Father – bless his soul, who gave us his best to keep us together and provide a solid foundation to grow upon. To Granny Greenwell who never shied away from anyone or anything to support and teaching us everything and more importantly doing the right thing and respecting others. To June who entered our lives at a critical juncture was truly a gift from above.

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