Ken Heathington, Floyd Stokes, and Betty Wofford wanted to save their memories of growing up in Duster, Texas so we met in De Leon last week to video the trio as they spoke about their old community. In the middle of all that, Floyd Stokes* grabbed my attention with a memory that I thought you would enjoy.
Floyd was born to Dale and Beatrice Wiley Stokes in 1940, and he grew up in Duster. By his own admission, it was a very different life than what we live today.
“Of course, there was no television, but we were lucky enough to have a radio. People would come to our house to listen to it.”
And if you are picturing the radio that you have in your house today, don’t. The Stoke’s radio was very large, and it “had a wind charger that kept the batteries up on it until we got electricity. It was both a shortwave radio and a regular radio, and we had an antennae that stretched from one eave of the house to the other.”
According to Floyd, one of the most interesting programs that people ever came to hear occurred when he was a very little boy.
“Before we dropped the atomic bomb on Japan, the military had to test it. They put the bomb on a tall tower, and they exploded the bomb to test it, to see what it would do, how strong it was.”
Believe it or not, this military test became a live broadcast.
“A lot of people came to our house. We had a house and yard full of people listening when the bomb exploded. I can remember how long that thing rumbled after they exploded it. It went on for the longest time…and there we all were….listening to it rumble. I’ve always remembered that long rumble, and I talked to Daddy about it years later to be sure I did not imagine it. I didn’t.”
Of course, no one listening to the Stokes’ radio that day had any idea of what was coming. They didn’t know that a ship would go down; they didn’t know hat the war would be ended because of that bomb. No, all people knew on that night was that the rumble seemed to go on forever.
Years later, Floyd Stokes would visit the site of the explosion he never forgot.
“It turned the sand where it exploded into glass because it was so hot. I’ve seen it.”
And in a day of television and 24-hour media coverage, it’s hard to imagine a yard full of people standing around and listening to a rumble they cannot see, isn’t it?*Today, Floyd and his wife have retired. They live in Stephenville, Texas.