Survivors of a school bus-train crash Dec. 1, 1938, that killed 23 Jordan High School students and their bus driver, will hold a 50-year reunion Dec. 1 at Salt Lake Community College.
One of the 15 survivors, Douglas T. Brown, Riverton, said only 13 of the students who escaped death in the crash - one of the worst of its kind ever recorded in the United States - are still alive."We contacted all of the 13 but one, and after a story appeared in the Deseret News about our reunion we had several phone calls from relatives of that one and we located her."
Brown said he believes most of the survivors will be able to attend the reunion, which will be held in the Copper Room of the college. "We'll have a little get-together and socialize beginning at 6:30 p.m., then have a roast beef dinner at 7 and afterward we have reserved a small room near the dining room where we can visit with each other."
Some of the survivors are expected to bring memorabilia of the crash and of their days at Jordan High School.
Orley Bills III, a junior at Jordan High who read about the reunion, has started building a memorial to the crash victims and is gathering old newspapers telling about the crash and information about the dead students to put in a wooden frame that will be displayed at the school.
Bills said the teacher and students in his wood shop course are helping him build the memorial. He said a metal plaque was placed in the foyer of the school in 1939, a year after the crash, listing the names of the students and the bus driver killed in the accident.
"I've obtained a memorial yearbook printed in 1939 that also lists the students who died and has their pictures and a little information about each of them. Some of this information will also be included in the memorial we're building," Bills said.
Brown, who operates a mobile meat-cutting business, was a seaman in the Merchant Marine during World War II and saw action in the Pacific and South Pacific. He said he sailed in several convoys that lost ships to Japanese submarines.
"I've thought about death a little," Brown said. "After the bus crash I wondered why I had been so lucky to be spared when students all around me were killed. I thought the same thing during the war and asked myself more than once why I lived through it and plenty of good men and women didn't.
"If I ever figure out why I lived and others didn't, I'll write a book."