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Coalfire, Al Story…Plane Crash

Posted by Pete | Posted in Downloads, News | Posted on 27-01-2016


Pete Hester
Coalfire, Al Story….Plane Crash

Well, it has been a while since I posted a story on Coalfire! Where’s Coalfire? (Facebook)  That’s in Alabama, folks….So I reckon its time for another one…. The store was at the new location already, about 1944 or so, during the war years as I recall and at a time when airplanes were flying overhead a lot. We always stopped to watch them doing the maneuvers. There was a training base over at Columbus. (I suppose it is still there.) Anyway, several of us kids were drinking a coke as Uncle Shorty had treated us and was telling one of his famous stories. Cecil Bonner, Virgil Bonner, maybe Donald Bishop and maybe Charles Darling….Cecil and Virgil for sure. We were standing out in front of the store when suddenly we looked up and here comes a plane right over Ms. Mamie Darlings house and a few feet higher than the store. No noise was coming from the plane as it was headed in the direction of Uncle Dee’s house. Uncle Shorty said, “it’s engine has quit, he’s a gonna crash.” And Uncle Shorty went to running as fast as he could down in the direction of the crashing plane, toward Uncle Dee’s corn patch. A beautiful patch of corn about head high to me at the time. Us kids went to chasing Uncle Shorty, but kind of letting him stay in front, for myself anyway, I did not think the end results was gonna be very pretty. The plane went behind the trees down around Uncle Dee’s house so we lost sight of it for awhile. Between Uncle Dee’s and Uncle Stillman’s house it came into view again. It was still moving, mowing down the corn crop, pretty as you please, taking out about 10 to 15 rows as it sliced through the crop. It mowed it down as good as a sickle could. Uncle Shorty had been warning us kids on the run down there to be careful in approaching the plane as it may explode even after it stopped. Well, it didn’t. And when we got there the pilot was climbing out of the cockpit. Uncle Shorty hollows to him, “Did your engine fall off?. The pilot says, “No sir, this is a sailplane. It does not have an engine.” Well sir, we all learned something that day, there was something called a sailplane. He was an instructor over at Mississippi State, Starkville, MS and had a piece of metal flapping and he decided he better put down in the corn field he had seen. All us boys helped him push the sailplane out close to our house near the highway where he waited on help to arrive from Starkville. That was a big deal around Coalfire for a time. Uncle Shorty bought us another coke later to retell the story…..we enjoyed him telling the story again, especially since he was buying…..And I think Uncle Dee made pretty good money on the new airplane runway down through his crop…

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Norma Elmore, Dan Hall and 9 others like this.   From Coalfire! Where’s Coalfire group Facebook page…..

Comments (5)

Thanks Pete for the memory of the only airplane that I have ever seen land in Coal Fire. I don’t remember it landing, but I do remember it sitting in our beautiful cornfield after it landed. I suppose that your description of it landing is as good as any. It certainly fits the stories that I later heard of it landing. I remember the plane being towed (or carried) to the highway and loaded on a truck. That is the last I heard of it. From your description of the landing, I can just see Uncle Shorty running down the hill and quickly taking charge of the accident scene as if he was a news reporter. Of course, nothing significant ever happened in Coal Fire, but this event was almost as big as the event when the watermelon truck overturned in front of Otis Burgess’ store, and the big Trailways bus came down through the driveway in front of Uncle Shorty’s house in order to connect with our drive way to bypass the wreckage. The watermelons were all bruised, but many of them were good. They were free and didn’t have to be stolen from a patch.

I don’t remember hearing about the airplane landing in Uncle Woodrow’s cornfield. But I Do remember the watermelon truck turning over at the store… Mama Hester had a bunch loaded in car and taken down to their house , you remember how she loved watermelon .. Later that same day Mother, Dad and I were walking from our house then down behind the store, to Pop and Mama’s house. I was telling them about the truck turning over and watermelon being everywhere and about the Trailways bus going by Uncle Short’s and down Uncle Woodrow’s driveway. Well they just laugh at me saying a big bus wouldn’t go that way.. But Mama told them I was right that big old bus did go that way!!!!

The Trailways bus did look really big (to us kids anyway) while we followed it on our little bicycles and feet waving them on to wherever they were going. To me, then, just across the creek seemed to be far, far away. The big bus seemed like it was from another world.

I did not know about that watermelon truck turning over but I do remember the story of the cattle truck turning over and cows escaping down into Coalfire Creek Swamp and the investigators looking for cattle that could not be found anywhere. I heard stories later of several barns and sheds housing newly acquired cattle…somehow…I think maybe they just showed up in those locations. Did you guys hear that story? But I really was a witness to the plane crash…Uncle Shorty retold the story several times, but he may have had a gentle push from some of us boys, hoping to get another coke out of him during the retelling. He was pretty good about buying us cokes…..

The watermelon truck turned over in front of Otis’ store during the summer of 1954. Pete may have already left for the Air Force when it happened. The cattle truck turned over in “Dead Man’s Curve” near Melrose in 1952 or 1953. My Dad did not directly steal any of the cattle, but several did get into his pasture and mixed with his herd and bred a couple of his cows. He ended up claiming those that found their way into his pasture and later selling them. He later regretted the incident because Bang’s Disease broke out a year or two later in his herd, and he had to sale off the entire herd. He did not replace his herd for several years until after the Bang’s Disease had disappeared from his property. It is not really known whether or not the Bang’s Disease came from the cattle truck or not, but Dad always said that it did. He always believed that it did for the simple reason that he had never had a problem with Bang’s Disease before that. I don’t guess Granddad did either. The airplane (glider) accident occurred earlier either in 1951 or 1952. Granddad’s old barn was still standing when it happened, and it was blown down by the storm in the Spring of either 1952 or 1953.

As a side note, the cattle truck accident may have been the beginning of Dad’s conversion to Christianity and joining the Church at Coal Fire. After Bang’s Disease broke out in his herd, Mother laid it on him really good saying that the disease was God’s punishment to him for not reporting the accident cattle to the proper authorities and returning them. The accident gave her more ammunition to get him to the altar and to accept Christ into his life. It didn’t do it completely, but I believe that it started him to thinking about the condition of his soul which came to fruition later after his second heart attack in 1970. God often works in mysterious, but powerful, ways.

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