July 31, 1940 was a bright and sunny day that was to end so disastrously. I was 15 years old and had spent the afternoon swimming at the old Waterworks pool leaving just in time to arrive home for dinner. I was riding my bike double with a neighbor friend. When we were about a quarter mile from Bailey Rd. on Monroe Falls Ave., we heard a loud explosion. Looking toward Front St., we heard sirens blaring from all over town. It was around 6:00 PM, and the two of us decided to go toward the source. Arriving at Front and Bailey, we saw havoc. We went over the old Bailey Rd. bridge under the freight train and walked along Front St. side of the accident. The Doodlebug had collided with a freight train near the bridge, been pushed across Front St. and was telescoped into the engine of the train. The firemen had extinguished the fire and soon the men with bags and blankets were removing the dead. I remember seeing volunteers, regular citizens, working hard to bring people out hoping that they might find someone alive. As I approached this scene, I saw a woman with her hand outstretched with much of the flesh gone. I still remember the wedding ring on her finger. My friend asked for the time. I told him that it was about 6:30. It was then that he realized that his dad should have been on that train. He was. He was one of the many who died that day. There were many Fallsites on the Doodlebug. Mr. Clifford died there, and Clifford field as the high school was named in honor of him. I didn't know it at the time, but my dad, Henry Sayers and a neighbor, Jim Hall, had heard the crash and explosion at home on Myrtle Ave. and had rushed to the scene. My dad was horrified to see body parts along Front St., and when he looked at the Doodlebug, he could see where the bodies had been thrown forward to the front of the car. We shared what we had witnessed that day when we all numbly arrived back home. My father worked with a man named Ira Won. His son was riding in the baggage compartment that day. Just before the collision, the conductor came running in shouting for everyone to jump. He followed the conductor out the door, landing along the riverbank and was saved. These two were the only survivors in this tragedy. Forty-three others perished. Although the statistics are different, these are the statistics that I remember from that time. This is a day I don't like to remember, but one I will never forget. Donald Sayers, 80 years old
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