T. Harry Williams Center for Oral History
Running down Old Spanish Trail at night after plant explosions
Debra Ramirez by Peggy Frankland, 2000.
DEBRA RAMIREZ: My family’s, like, been there, like, forever. So when we were on the highway of Old Spanish Trail, we thought when the plant offered to buy us . . . and before they offered to buy my parents, by the way. I want you to know this, this is something that is very important to know. When the plant . . . There was a coke plant there [in the Mossville community]. My mom went to the doctor and he asked her if she smoked. She didn’t smoke, but she had the stuff in her lungs. He also asked her about her respiratory problems and stuff so we had been having problems with the plant early on because I remember when it would explode, we did not have an alarm but the whistle to go off and the police would come in. I say police, but sheriffs would come and they would tell us to hurry up and get out, and we ran. Sometimes we were in our sleeping clothes, barefooted, and we were running Old Spanish Trail where gators were. They had gators in there, they had moccasins crossing the road. Because don’t forget, we talking about swampland. We would run to the corner of the Old Trousdale Road and we would stand there and wait for the all clear for us to go home. So when we went back home, we would go back home, we got to the point to where we were sleeping in our clothes. That way, if the plant exploded, we wouldn’t be caught with our sleeping clothes on. Little girls had little nightgowns sometimes that were thin and we did not even have time to grab a housecoat. So we got to the point that we would just sleep in our clothes. That is how often this plant would always blow up, we would call it. I also remember, too, when we would get back home and we had to go to school the next morning, sometimes we would be very tired. I don’t know if we really comprehended the things that we needed to comprehend even at Mossville because it was always a constant struggle.
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