SEWARD -- The old library basement was a dim, musty room, used occasionally for meetings and movie nights. It was an unremarkable space except for what hung on the walls -- children's drawings, dozens of them, in Crayola-bright colors with stick-figure people and blob-like cars, all showing the same basic scene: billowing fire and black skies, enormous waves, buildings sinking, people fleeing on foot or in cars.
They are a collection of more than 80 drawings made by Seward children in 1964, just after the 9.2 Good Friday earthquake ripped though their town and triggered a lethal tsunami, rupturing fuel tanks and starting a series of explosions and fires that lasted for days.
Some of the scenes are drawn in crayons and pastels, others in ink or pencil. Most show fuel tanks -- often with Texaco and Standard Oil symbols neatly drawn -- engulfed in an inferno of fire, with enormous plumes of black smoke filling the sky. In some, boats in the bay are on fire, or blue waves threaten the town. One boy imagined Nazi fighter planes dropping bombs on the exploding fuel tanks. A seventh grader drew two adults and a child clinging to each other, surveying a black and broken landscape.
No one knows for certain why they were made. It seems that someone must have coordinated different classes of children, grades one through eight, for the project, and preserved the drawings as a collection. But for about 30 years, no one knew they existed.
"I do know that I have always thought they were unique and real treasures," said Maureen Callahan, who was a senior library assistant when the drawings came to light.