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The Florala News
Florala , Alabama
March 18, 1976     The Florala News
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March 18, 1976

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©SMALLTOWNPAPERS, IN.C. ALL CONTENT COPYRIGHTED. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. JBJECT TO LICENSE AGREEMENT. REPRODUCTION, DISSEMINATION, STORAGE, DISTRIBUTION PROHIBITED. THE FLORALA NEWS ~ THURSDAY, MARCH 18, 1976 EDITORS NOTE: ,Jew of the fact that Gua- citizens are still in of food, medicine and and there is a local now underway to collect to send these unlortu- we feel that the story as told by Dr. brother-in-law to Gitenstein, will be of md Mrs. Zelson were va- with friends in Gun- the February 4 to tell the story. the past week they were of Seymour and Ann Git- this Saturday, a score of earth tremors again arthquake- ravaged Gua- frightening the jittery brought the to- of aftershocks to Since the quake hit the ebruary 4, killing an 23,000 persons and 6,000 others. damaged walls col- [rom the new tremors, • e said they had no re- ~S. ;uatemalans spent the in the open, sleeping tents or shelters homes. (Mrs. Zel- Pictures of this type her collection). ~ila Smith two Ridgefield couples on their vacation to lla last month, they had that they would wit- story that has ore r lea( PG g JUUE HARRIS tEEN HECKART O'CONNELL Introducing CUFT THEATRE ent St. MAR. 24-27 Wed frl ?'00L, 945 %,;It 2N} 700 L. 94'3 hess one of the greatest natural disasters in modern, history. Dr. and Mrs. Carl Zelson of Bennett's Farms Road and their neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Joseph B. Fuld el Douglas Lane, left January 20 for what was surely the most memorable, if not the most enjoyable, vacation of their lives. They headed for the "land of eternal spring", as Guatemala is called in the travel brochures. They all failed to mention, however, that it is also the "land of the qui- vering earth." The Zelsons and the Fulds were looking forward to a beau- tiful land with good weather, a place more interesting than Florida or Arizona where they could wander, through the little villages, try out their Spanish (which they were learning in Nancy Miller's classes), buy some native pottery and weav- ing, and explore the archeology of the historical ruins left from previous earthquakes. Instead they got a shattering taste of history in the making, "a hor- rible experience that we hope we never have to experience anything like it again," in the words of Dr. Zelson. OFF TO GUATEMALA The foursome first landed in Guatemala City wffere they vis- ited the parents of Mrs. Regina Dunn, (who now lives in Ridge- field, but is from Guatemala) and met her sisters and bro- ther-in-law. After five days in the city they left for Antigua, about 25 miles away. They had been there about I0 days and were enjoying their explorations about the old city that was the country's capital until the devastating earthquake 200 years ago. The capital was moved after that earth- quake, the residents also con- sidered the fact that Antigua is flanked by two volcanoes, Agua (water) and Fuego (fire). The travelers had planned on venturing farther afield the se- cond week and visiting more of the remote Indian villages which dot the country. But all pos- sibility of travel was dismis- sed by the first shudder of the earthquake which eventually left more than 7.0,000 people dead and reduced the entire towns to dusty rubble. t "WORSE THAN THUNDER" The Zelsons and the Fulds were asleep in their hotel rooms at 3:03 Wednesday morning, when they were awakened by the first tremble of the quake aqd heard a rumble "worse tlutn thunder" beneath them. "Lamps shook, beds shook; it looked as if the whole thing would come tumbling down," the Zelsons remembered. They dashed out of the one- story hotel bungalow, but the Fulds took the time to dress. Mr. Fuld, a retired builder, was confident that the concrete block structure with its heavy support beams for the ceiling would withstand even the violent shaking. PLUMBING - ELECTRICAL Old Or New Experienced - Youthful NO JOB TOO I,ARGE ()R SMAI,I, ALL WORK OUARANTEED PHONE 8- 1082 Stan Caraway PLUMBING - ELECTRICAL ALA. PHONE 8-7804 P. , AOIOLUS & BEGONIA BULBS I li;°', m.m. ci,,.., Appi.. .,.h --m -- • X ll'r R iP_,4 m -vqw4, T...-E... EA. AR TREES 5.*,.L OO G;EANA 2.3 FE ET EACH MYRTLE 2-3.. $1 so WEEKLY SPECIAL 30 VARIETIES He was right. And in a few seconds the Fulds joined the other guests outside amid the banana trees on {he lawn. The actual quake lasted 39 seconds. but the earth was stillquivering as the guests assembled in the dark. "We were really too amazed to be frightened at first," said Jeanne Fuld. "You just don't believe it's happening - that terra urma is moving under- neath you." None of the four visitors had ever experienced even a mild earthquake tremor before that night. Because the nights are cold in Guatemala and nobody knew what was going to happen next because the aftershocks were still quite strong, the hotel guests built fires outside to keep warm and stayed out there all night. "I was never so glad to see the dawn," remembers Mrs. Fuld. LIVING IN LIMBO For the next few days the visitors, and indeed everyone else in the outlying regions of the country were isolated. "It was like living in limbo. We were completely cut off from thr rest of the world." Communications in Guate- mala are unsophisticated at best and all telephone lines collapsed that night. The radio broadcast, when it did resume, was in Spanish and rumors flew faster than radio waves. First they heard that the air- port in Guatemala City had been destroyed; then that typ- hoid had broken out; neither of which was true. They walked into the village the next day and stopped by the hospital which had been set up in a former convent. Dr. Zel- son, a .pediatrician, went in to offer his services but the place was in a chaotic state with many doctors hurrying around. He was told that, not being able to speak Spanish, he would only be in the way. As the newsmen reported, the small villages and the poorer people living in adobe houses were the hardest hit by the quake. While concrete build- ings cracked and weakened, the handmade Indian homes crum- bled'and fell, often striking and injuring, and sometimes killing the occupants. Mormon missionaries came around to the hotel lathe morn- ing collecting money and cloth- ing for the hospital and left with arms lull of clothes and some medication for the sick. Many of the sick and wound- ed were being moved into An- tiqua from the outlying towns. Americans and Canadian stu- dents, many of whom spoke Spanish and were traveling through the country, gave "in- valuable assistance" feeding, washing and bandaging the injured. They "behaved splen- didly" and many worked for up to 30 hours straight in the hos- pitals, the visitors reported. The next night, when many of the doctors were exhausted, Dr. Zelson and another American doctor went to the hospital to work. They were the only two doctors there then until three Mexican surgeons arrived to take care of critically wound- ed. THE HORROR HOSPITAL The hospital was still dis- organized and the doctors spent most of their time separating those who needed immediate attention and getting help for the ones with the most serious wounds. "People were lying in rows on mats on the concrete floor. In the emergency area there were three in a bed in some cases, a woman and her son with a baby on top," said Dr. Zel- s0n. "It was terrible to see. I saw more fractures in one night SILVER MAPLES 4 - 5 FEET EACH Open Daily 9 - 5 --- Closed on Monday there than I've seen in a life- time. We made splints out of cardboard and scrap pieces of wood." There were very few sup- plies until Friday, no morphine or other painkillers and no an- tibiotics. Some of the people with open wounds, lacerations and compound fractures had been waiting 30 hours for me- dical attention and hand't been treated yet. One woman had a compres- sion fracture of the spine and was paralyzed from the neck down. There was a child with what appeared to be a ruptured bowel. Others had eyes that were swollen and bulging from bleeding inside their head. STOICISM But what the Americans re- member most markedly about the Indians was their stoicism. Even just aRer the first quake, there was "no screaming or shrieking." At the hospital the injured waited quietly for a doc- tor to look at them. Even seriously injured and the young never cried out, even in pain. One small boy had deep lacerations of both cheeks down to the mucous membra- nes that were caked with dirt. "But even when I tried to loos- en the dressings that had stuck to the wounds, the child didn't cry, and it must have been pain- ful," said Dr. Zelson. "The people never moaned, cried or whimpered, even with exposed fractures . or other painful injuries," he said. One woman with a fractured thigh had been sitting in a wheel- chair all day waiting for treat- meat. Another woman in great pain kept murmuring "gracias" (thank-you) all the time the doc- tor was treating her. During the day funeral pro- cessions walked slowly through the town carrying crude cof- fins, some only small enough to hold a child, draped in white. "But the people were so dig- nified. There was no wailing, only quiet weeping or silent tears," the wives recalled. "They are fatalists, really," said one of the visitors. "They just accept it as the will of God." They just accept and rebuild. LIFE GOES ON While the injured were still being treated and the dead being buried, the news report estima- tes of the dead were still from 5,000 to 14,O00, the people in Guatemala tried to go abbut the business of living. The Anti- gua market, which had been iN a building next to the ruins of an old church, had been des- troyed and the farmers set up an open air market in a field nearby. There was still food in An- tigua pineapple, bananas, avocados, corn, eggs, beans and other produce. And the water, coming from mountain streams, was still clean. Bot- tled water was also available. Tourists were advised to sleep outside but many, like the visitors from here, slept in their rooms with their clo- thes on and the doors open. Most of the natives were for- ced to sleep outside in make- shift tents, their homes having been demolished. Martial law was declared, although there was no looting in Antigua, said Mrs. Zelson. By Friday some of the Indians: had already started mixing adobe to build a new home. Of the 100 old churches in the town, only 33 were still standing. "And the ruins were more ruined than before," Mrs. Fuld remarked. Hardly anyone could leave the town because the earth- quake had caused landslides which blocked the mountain roads back to Guatemala City. Part of the Pan American High- way had been closed and was being used as an emergency landing strip to bring in doc- tors, medical supplies and other equipment to serve the 100-bed portable field hospital which had been set up nearby. The terrain was so rugged that even helicopters had a dif- ficult time landing in some areas. There were few bull- dozers in the country and most of the road clearing was done by hand with pick and shovel. SECOND QUAKE By Friday things were im- proving. Electricity bad been restored in the hotel and there was running water. Mrs. Zel- son and Mrs. Fuid even went, swimming in the pool. But around noon on Friday, a second quake rocked the land and brought down many build- ings that had cracked or been weakened by the first one. This one was a little less se- vere than the first, but still a powerful trembling. It ,wid- ened the crack in the swim- ming pool and all the water drained away. Two other hotels in the town had been destroyed and their occupants came to the one where the Ridgefilders were staying. Several Americans who had been renting beautiful homes in town were also left out in the street aRer the houses col- lapsed. This year had been one of Guatemala's best for the tou- rist trade. Newspapers published lists of the known dead and radios constantly reported the barnes Mrs. Zelson, Seymour Gilenslein And Dr. Carl Zelson of those who were safe but couldn't find their families. Young boys in the town were still offering to give you a "super colossal shine" on your shoes, but there was no beg- ging. By Sunday the Indians were setting up sheds in the new marketplace using lumber sal- vaged from the old market. That morning people went to church at a portable chapel set up in an open field. Cars were parked around the central square and people were living in the cars or in tents nearby. Meals were cooked outdoors and women in their brightly woven clothes didtheir wash at the community wash- tubs in the square. OUT OF ANTIGUA And the Zelsons and the Fulds were trying to make arrange- ments .tar leave, By Sunday "our resistance was worndown and our nerves were so shot" that "we stayed in bed during the third quake" early Sunday morning. The hotel manager went to Guatemala City that day to make reservations and send messag- es. The tourists cheered as his car drove back into the hotel, many of them thinking he might not make it back. So the foursome left early Monday morning with theirdri- ver, Arturo, leading a caravan of other cars carrying twoSwiss girls, three Canadians and two Americans from Los Angeles back to the airport. The journey back to Guatemala City was far from direct, going up the sides of mountains to bypass land- slides. Leaving the city of Antigua, where about 100 people had been killed, the Americans went through Chimalteuango, a town that "looked like pictures of Hiroshima after the bomb was dropped" and where about 1,000 died, and the little village of Paramus, which was almost le- velled. One part of the ride took them across two miles of bumpy field and much of the rest was along temporary back- roads. BACK IN THE CITY In Guatemala City, at the air- port, the Ridgefielders learned more about the consequences of the earthquake. The univer- sity hospital in the city had been damaged, and Mrs. Duma's re- latives had been dislodged, al- though they were safe. There were also some people from Redding staying in Antigua, the Zelsons said. Many of the large hotels in Guatemala City. were evacua- ted because the wails cracked in the quake and the tourists were forced to sleep on tour buses in the parking lot. The other American doctor in An- tigua had been staying on the eighth floor of the Ritz Hotel in Guatemala City the night of the earthquake. The top of the hotel swayed so much that the bed slid across the room about three times. MARVELOUS PEOPLE The Ridgefield visitors had nothing but praise for the Gua- temalan Indians. The people are so clean, they said, that even the marketplaces, teem- ing with goods and people, have no odor. They described the children as,,~'Ciean; s~weet and gentle" and noticed that the Indians have a strong family feeling. It was not unusual to see a mother with two or three child- ren nurse an infant in public, like on a bus. The people are "marvelous," Mrs. Fuld noted, "with such dignity about them." What didn't impress the tou- rists while they were there were the American travel services and the newsmen. They learn- ed that some tour services had left people in Antigua with- out even checking on them af- ter the earthquake to see if they were all right. And on Wed- nesday morning, after the first quake, the airlines were still flying people into Guatemala City without telling them about the disaster. In Antigua, Dr. Zelson was interviewed by Japanese repor- ters from the UPI wire service and some of his quotes were printed in the Los Angeles Ti- mes. But the foursome were dismayed that all the newsmen really did was sit around the hotel pool and drink. They didn't visit the hospitals or the outlying areas, they just inter- viewed some Americantourists and wrote their story on that. GOOD MEMORIES But the Zelsons and the Fulds still have some good memories el their vacation. And they are really none the worse for their harrowing experiences. They have times to remember like their visit to San Antonio D' hgua Caliente where a mother was teaching her daughter to weave and the daughter wanted her picture taken. Dr. Zelson I HAVE THIS QUESTION ABOUT MY MEDICINE... I'm told that IRS now will not accept cancelled checks as proof of .purchase of drugs. Why not? ANSWER: Probably be- cause most drug bills also cover non-deductible items such as beauty aids, candy, film and other things that are not tax deductible. By the away, if Moody Drug Company has taken care of your family's pres- criptions, you have no pro- blem, simply ask their per- sonnel for an income tax receipt. MOODY DRUG COMPANY 1515 West Fifth Avenue Florala, Alabama Phone 8-3855 obliged and gave the child a nickel. She immediately ran to the ice cream man and hap- pily spent it on an ice cream. Or the time Mr. Fuld went to buy shoes, which are quite cheap tlmre, lle walked into the store and the owner just laughed. The people in Gua- temala are small-boned and the largest shoe in the store was size 43 (centimeters). Mr. Fuld needed a 56! Flights out of Guatemala City the Monday after the earthquake were hard to come by and one took what was available. The Ridgefielders went to Costa Rica and stayed there for I0 days, although after the pre- vious week it was a welcome anti-climax. The plane they took was a "local," so to speak, stopping at several countries in between and the Americans had no way of knowing where they were be- cause all the signs were m Spanish. They went by the rule of thumb that if it was hot and humid that meant they were in the jungle somewhere and they got back on the plane. From Costa Rica they called and cabled their friends and re- latives in the US that they were all right. Now back home the travelers can reflect on their experience with humor and m- sight, but not without sympathy and concert for the Guatemalan people who must rebuild their lives in the quiet dignity that is their style. Rescue Squad Report l ~ : '~: ' =!:!1{ A total of 104 man hours and 1,029 miles were used during the past two weeks. Residents taken from Florala calling for service were Olean Shealy to Opp; Pearlie Davis from home to Florala Memo- rial and then toCrestview; Flo- ra Hobby to Opp; Charles No- tan from home to Fort Walton; Bruce Nelson from home to Pensacole; Junior Miller from home to Andalusia; Sylvester Paul from home to Opp; Cassie Montgomery from home to Flo- rala Memorial; LovieThomp- sen'from home to Florala Me- morial; Luvie Slolkey from home to Florala Memorial. Paxton - Sara Shows taken from home to Florala Memo- rial. Lockhart - James Bell, Sr., taken from home to Florala Memorial and then to Fort Wal- ton; Velma Cooper from home to Montgomery. Laurel Hill - Ella Mae Wat- son taken from home to Flo- rala Memorial. Jimmie Boles was taken from Yellow River Bridge to Opp Moving? Don't know what to do with all those books no one at your house reads? Others would like to read them. Give them to your Florala Library. Children grown up. gone away to school, or moved to another town? Maybe they left behind their kiddie books. Other child- run would enjoy those books Why not give them to the Flo- rala Library? - 3 - ~- C ...... _ 6-PACK CARTON Grocery Service Station Highway 54 East - - c -,, c - ?. c ..... D ,,= OPP THEATRES CAROUSEl. I)1 X ! EI,. ,NI) Twin Cinema l)o ntown Opp THUR. THRU TUE. MARCH 18- 23 Illalt kmli PLUS DISH EY'S "STRONGEST MAN IN THE WORLD" EACH PICTURE SHOWN ONCE EACH HITE AT 7:00 l)rive-in Theatre Hwv. 84 between Opp and Elba FRI,, SAT., SUN. MARCH 19-20-21 "TRINITY IS STILL MY NAME" PLUS Glen Campbell In "NORWOOD" OPEN AT 6:00 START AT 6:30 TICKET OF FICE OPEN TILL 8:30 TUESDAY IS "BARGAIN NITE" CAROUSEL MATINEE SAT. & SUN. AT 2:00