Triangle Fire 100th Anniversary March 2011


Jim Kalafus

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Researcher Michael Hirsch has identified, or rather given names to the six unknown Triangle victims, as the anniversary approaches.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/21/nyregion/21triangle.html?_r=4

They were 23 year old Max Florin, 18/22 year old Concetta Prestifilippo, 18 year old Josephine Cammarata, who may have been Concetta Prestifilippo's cousin, 18 year old Dora Evans, 21 year old Fannie Rosen, and 33 year old Maria Lauletti.

Back in 1911, no master list of who died was ever published. Newspapers kept a running toll of those whose bodies were identified, and those who died in the hospitals, but these lists were extremely inaccurate and required in-depth genealogical research to straighten out.

Strange to say, none of the mainstream newspapers seem to have written a "Missing after the fire" human interest story about the skeletal remains and body fragments buried at Evergreens Cemetery.

Mr. Hirsch solved this particular riddle, in part, by reading through the smaller, ethnic, newspapers that DID carry human interest articles about those who never came home.

Less satisfying, by far, than the press coverage of Mr. Hirsch's discoveries, was the AMERICAN EXPERIENCE Triangle episode last night.

It began promisingly enough, by mentioning Triangle workers Michaela Marciano, Catherine Maltese and her teenage daughters, and Julia Rosen and her teenage son. It also made me happy to see that for ONCE it was allowed that the Triangle was a "plum" job to land, and delved into the owners' motivations with more depth than has previously been shown.

Then it headed south, fast.

The 1909 Garment Workers Strike began at the Triangle factor, and was incited by the arbitrary firing of an employee named Jake Kline (who returned to work in the factory after the strike and died in the fire)...yet the VERY SPECIFIC cause of the initial walkout was never mentioned, in favor of the usual cliches about workers developing social conscience, etc.

The documentary then exhaustively detailed the back story leading up to the fire. The beatings, the protest marches, the support of Anne Morgan (daughter of J.P.) and Alva Vanderbilt Belmont which helped turn the tide of public opinion in favor of the workers, were all delved into. Which would have been fine in a two hour format, but in one hour it ate up far too much time and reduced the amount of information about the disaster that could be related...

What does the program tell us about Michaela Marciano? That she survived the Vesuvius eruption and died. About the Maltese family? That they all died, and that 14 year old Lucia Maltese was the youngest victim. Julia Rosen and her son, Israel? Although it mentions them in the opening montage, it never returns to them in the closing montage, so they are not even allowed the brief nod that the others get.

The 146 victims become bit players in what was actually another "turn of the century strike" documentary. You come away from it knowing more about Anne Morgan than you do Julia Rosen.

Julia was a widow. She and Israel worked in the factory, while her 14 year old daughter, Esther, remained at home and raised her younger siblings.

Julia was listed in newspapers as having died of multiple injuries. The bodies were layed out in two rows, with the least disturbing at the front and the most horribly mutilated at the back, to make the task of identification slightly easier on the families. Julia was #138 of 146, so the multiple injuries were most likely massive skull fractures.

Morgue attendants found a pay packet in her clothing marked "Mrs. Rosen" and also found $852 in a roll bound to her leg under her stocking. So, they knew who the body in coffin 138 was, but it took time to locate her family for positive ID. Esther, her 14 year old, spoke no English and knew only that her mother and brother had not come home for several days. She was taken to the morgue, where she identified her mother by the braids that she, Esther, had set into her hair that morning.

Israel Rosen was not identified until the Friday after the fire, and was only known by his signet ring.

Catherine Maltese was one of the skeletons buried as unknown after the fire. Some months later her husband recognized something of hers among the effects found with the various skeletal remains, and she was reburied with her daughters.

There are hundreds of well documented stories of those who found themselves in the Triangle Factory that day, yet exactly none were presented.

Daisy Lopez Fitze. An immigrant from the Caribbean. She married a Swiss man, who returned to Switzerland to buy an inn and left her with a nest egg with which to support herself until the inn was established. She wished to turn as much of his money back over to him as she could, and so took a job in the Triangle. She survived the nine story jump, only to die in the hospital some days later. Sad but interesting story. Has anyone traced her husband in Switzerland? Does his family have more information about him and Daisy? The producers COULD have taken that approach, but didn't.

One can overlook that the glass and wood door which may or may not have been locked was presented as a solid wood door that was definitely locked. One can overlook that the show claims that a single girl survived the nine story jump when, in fact, more than ten did and a few lingered for days before dying. But, one cannot overlook the fact that, once again, the key players in a major event have been reduced to walk ons in what should have been their own story.
 

Jim Kalafus

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HBO: Remembering the Triangle Fire.

I went into this expecting mediocre, after the American Experience bait and switch, and was pleasantly surprised by just how excellent it was.

This documentary focused almost exclusively on the people and events of March/April 1911, with the strike and the post fire reforms given just enough time so that one could understand the context of the fire and long-term results without the point becoming belabored, as on American Experience.

A surprise- for the first time, a descendent of one of the owners has been interviewed. Through her, a grand-daughter, one sees views of the family mansion on 101st Street and photographs of the Blanck family as they were in 1911. And her final quote, regarding her feelings about the fire is memorable.

Descendents of Catherine Maltese, who died along with her two, teenage, daughters; Fannie Lansner, the forewoman who died while trying to maintain order among those hemmed in by the fire near the elevators; Rose Oringer, who jumped from the ninth floor and survived for a time after; Joseph Zito, the elevator man who helped save almost half of those who escaped from the ninth floor; Kate and Rose Weiner ~ Kate survived by jumping on to the heads and shoulders of those in the elevator as the car began its final descent, while Rose was trapped in the burning loft and died; Sylvia Riegler, who was dragged to a window by a panicked friend (who jumped) but who decided to try for the stairs, and many more have been interviewed. Most have provided previously unseen photos of those who lived and died that day.

The production is fast moving, and factually as good as it gets. Starting today, you can get it through HBO on demand. Well worth watching.
 

Jim Kalafus

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Thanks for that link. I enjoyed what you wrote.

One thing I liked about the HBO special is that it did not dwell on the locked door canard. The infamous locked door was an office door, with a wooden lower half and a glass upper half. It was the means by which management and VIP visitors entered and left the three floors during the work day. It was locked at closing time, to channel workers out past "security" at the workers' entrance~ security who searched their bags for stolen goods. The key to the locked door was attached to the door by a string. Several girls testified to turning the key....the defense treated them respectfully on the stand. Because, with SEVERAL people turning the key, the very real possibility remains that they locked themselves in ~ no jury made aware of that, as happened in 1911, COULD convict.

The locked door was right beside the two elevators, by which most of those who escaped from the 9th floor got away. It would seem that the pile of 20 or so bodies found in this area were girls who were overcome by smoke waiting for the elevators to come back, and not people who continued pulling at the locked door until the last second.

HBO did a good job mentioning that one of the true killers was unpreparedness. There were no fire drills. No one knew what to do. As David Von Drehle pointed out in his book, three extra minutes would likely have saved everyone on the ninth floor....

....Phone calls in the Triangle all went thru the tenth floor switchboard. Dinah Lifschitz, an eighth floor supervisor, did the correct thing and notified management, on the tenth floor, of the growing fire. The tenth floor operator, Mary Alter, told the owners of the massive fire, and then set off to see for her family instead of returning to her switchboard.

Managers and supervisors on the eighth floor did heroic work, evacuating all of the women on that floor safely, and fighting the fire. But, not a single one ran up a flight to give warning.

Dinah, a relative of the owners, remained at her desk frantically trying to get the tenth floor operator to pick up. She knew that she had to get word to the ninth floor, but as happens when people aren't trained, she tunnel visioned on the one task. She and her cousin, Samuel Bernstein, were the last people off the eighth floor. She was a hero yet, at the same time, had she been trained, specifically, that if the switchboard became inoperable she was to run up two flights and warn the forewomen on the ninth and tenth, I have little doubt that she would have. Just as I have no doubt that had Mary Alter been trained to notify all floors in the event of a fire, she would have. SHE did the logical- but incorrect- thing and tried to save her family. And Dinah, facing a huge and entirely burning room, went into autopilot mode and stayed put, trying to get the operator on the main switchboard to pick up. You can't blame her. She wasn't trained.

Managers did a great job fighting the blaze and saving the eighth floor staff. But, no one was delegated to warn the other two floors, so no one did.

And the three minutes that could have saved most of the ninth floor were lost. The nearly three hundred occupants had no idea that everyone on the tenth floor was climbing up to the roof or escaping by elevator. And that the two hundred people on the floor below were being safely evacuated, as the entire huge room ignited. They only learned of the blaze when it burst through the rear windows of the shop, quickly cutting of access to the workers' staircase.

At that point, there were only three choices. Women brave enough to run directly into fire made it to the fireproof staircase. Nearly everyone else ran to the elevators and the dressing room. Few knew where the fire escape was, and it collapsed under the weight of perhaps 25 people who DID find it. Yet, roughly half of the three hundred people on the ninth floor DID escape in the five minutes it was possible to do so. With even minimal training, and those extra three minutes, orderly evacuation would have happened as it did on the other two floors.
 
May 27, 2007
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I studied the Triangle Fire after I watched an old union propaganda film from the 50's. I also saw the PBS Special and the HBO Special too, which was aired on CNN on Saturday 28 of this month.

You can watch the PBS video for free at their site. http://video.pbs.org/video/1817898383/#

I recommend the PBS both for the new student. Both look at the fire from different aspects.

The PBS one concentrates more on the growing labor movement and the Triangle Fire's effect on the labor movement and how it galvanized movement for labor unions and decent working conditions while the HBO one concentrates more on the events of that day and the people involved.

The HBO special can be seen at HBO on demand.

http://www.hbo.com/documentaries/triangle-remembering-the-fire/index.html

Now I want to give my 2cents worth. I wish the papers of the day had concentrated more on the actions of the owners rather then the locked door angle which didn't hold up in court.

http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/project...anglefire.html

Now I always wondered why the said owners were never taken to task for abandoning their workers. They knew the layout of that factory and could of done some good leading workers out or at least lending a helping hand. At least they could of unlocked that exit door on the ninth floor by the elevator. Helped evacuate their employees. The 147 people, who ended up dead, 129 of them young and teenage women and 18 men. Some of whom were teenagers too.

I guess the old saying is true that not everyone is a Hero.

Also regarding the fire and the locked door and workers leaping from the windows, I can have sympathy for that from my own experiences with fire. An out of control fire can be very frightening.

Last December, a month after my dad passed away to Lymphoma Cancer our floor heater malfunctioned and caught fire while I was at work and almost burned down our house. I came home to a while the firemen were setting up their hoses. Ended up having tunnel vision to get my cats out. So I can agree with that. I guess it columnated from losing my Dad just a month before.

My point is that smoke whether it is while as in my case where the smoke was white or black it is equally blinding. When you add the dynamics of fire which is frighting enough when you have a plan and terrifying when you don't it is no wonder they could not get the door open either because they locked it or it was locked or jammed. I can the workers also not breaking the supposed window in that door, if there was one, because what did they have to break it with given the time frame they found their selves in. It would make an interesting novel.

Speaking of books a friend from TJR forum recommended a non fiction book "Triangle: The Fire That Changed America" by David Von Drehle that seems worth checking out.
 

Jim Kalafus

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>At least they could of unlocked that exit door on the ninth floor by the elevator.

The key was in the lock. Mary Caliandro Levantini turned it, opened the door, stepped into the stairwell, stepped back into the factory and eventually survived by jumping down the elevator shaft. The Washington Place stairs did not lead to the roof. The tenth floor was already on fire, and Mrs. Levantini judged the stairs down to be impassible.

"The key was right in the door tied to a string. I opened the door. I looked out and saw the girls running down from the eighth floor. As I looked over that way, flames and smoke came up and they mde me turn in. I turned right in and ran to the elevators."

Anna Mittleman also opened that door. She saw the smoke, and the girls running out of the door and down the stairs. She, too, stepped back into the ninth floor.

There was some question about why no one got out the door after Levantini reentered the factory.

The answer is fairly simple. She said she went to the elevator. The elevator was only a foot away from the stairs. Very quickly she found herself holding on to the door edges, as her coworkers pushed her from behind. She jumped for the cable, managed to catch it, and slid down to lobby level.

"I was on top of the elevator cage, face up. I saw firemen going up the stairs with a hose. One of them called to me 'You are alright.' I kept crying 'Look! Look!' They couldn't see what I could see, way up the shaft."

What she saw was nineteen women, on fire, fallng down towards her. She rolled against the wall to avoid them. She survived, as did Sarah Friedman, Celia Walker, and Sarah Cammerstein, all of whom slid down the cable. The 19 who jumped did not survive.

So, Mrs. Levantini got the door open at the last second. With the key that was there the entire time.

The upper half of the door was glass. Had there been any desire to get thru the door, they would have smashed the glass...like they smashed the glass on the elevator door. Sixteen year old Ethel Monick went to find a machine head to smash the glass with, but was in the right place to get carried into the elevator with the surge. Not a single one of the survivors from the staircase/elevator area, other than Ethel Monick, seems to have ever spoke of trying to smash the glass.

It would seem that a great many people tried the door, gave up, and waited for the elevators to come up. The two elevators made perhaps five trips to the ninth floor, in under ten minutes. That's two lifts with 15-20 people each, arriving perhaps once a minute if they were not rising and falling in tandem. That's fairly swift. Wrapping yourself in fabric and running directly into fire on the Greene Street stairs would not have seemed like a wise choice, given the speed with which the elevators came and went.

Had the lifts made just one more trip up, the 20 people found in a heap just beyond the elevators could all have fit into one of them. And the 23 people who went down the shaft... nineteen dead, four survivors...could have fit in the other.

It would seem that the locked door was less of a hazard than the assumption that the lifts would come back up a final time.

>Now I always wondered why the said owners were never taken to task for abandoning their workers.

They were. BUT, on the other hand, they did manage to get sixty-nine out of seventy women from the tenth floor to the roof or elevators, as well as the salesmen and other visitors. The only tenth floor worker to die, Clothilde Terranova, seems to be the woman witnesses saw panic and jump from the roof.

>because what did they have to break it with given the time frame they found their selves in.

Breaking glass is relatively easy. They broke the glass out of the elevator door, and as the fire drew near tore the elevator door out of its frame. There were about forty chairs less than five feet from them. A chair leg, a machine head, whatever smashed the elevator door, COULD have been used. But, my guess is that the fast arriving elevators served as a distraction.
 

Jim Kalafus

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Position of elevators and the locked/unlocked wood and glass door.

207995.jpg


The nineteen women who jumped were seen to be burning. So, moments after Mrs. Levantini jumped into the shaft and then slid down the cable, the fire had reached the elevator lobby.

The pile of 14-20 bodies found "several feet" into the factory were in the right place to be those at the back of the elevator crowd, who were probably overcome by smoke even as those closer to the lifts were igniting and pushing one another thru the opening.
 
May 27, 2007
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I just never understood how they could of locked themselves in. I can understand them not smashing the glass if they were overcome by smoke or they didn't have anything to smash the glass with but what I don't understand is why they didn't use the key to unlock the door sooner. You would of thought someone would of had the sense to use the key or try to. I guess it was a stampede to the elevators. tunnel vision strikes again. I think that was part of it but I also think that something is missing in this puzzle. It doesn't fit.

I still say the owners could of went back and done something. I would of. Maybe it is just me.

I tried to go back into my house for 2 of my cats because I was responsible for them. I just feel that those gents were responsible for their employees and could of done more then they did do.

I am glad too that we got two documentaries instead of one. I remember back in 04 that all we got for the General Slocum Disaster was "Ship Ablaze" on the History Channel
 

Jim Kalafus

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>You would of thought someone would of had the sense to use the key or try to.

The key was on a string attached to the door.

Commentators have mentioned that a long list of prosecution witneses claimed "I was the first girl to the door."

Not that far fetched.

I dont think anyone was AT the door. I think that girls reached the door, turned the knob a few times, saw 15-30 women rush into the 5 by 6 foot elevators right next to them, and saw that as a more realistic... and certainly more tempting... means of escape. So, the next girl to come along would naturally assume that she was the first at the door. They weren't lying- just mistaken.

Mary Alter, switchboard operator, made it into the tenth floor staircase, and one of the owners did, too. Both saw smoke coming up the stairs from the eighth floor, and turned back. IF they neglected to close the door behind them, this would have turned the stair tower into a chimney. Anyone struggling with the ninth floor door would have seen smoke coursing up the stairs, as they looked thru the glass. Compare that option to watching large numbers of girls running into the elevators at fairly regular intervals, and the door definitely becomes choice #2.

>I just never understood how they could of locked themselves in

This was the "Business" door to the factory. It had the NYC office building glass window in it, and was right next to the 'executives and visitors only' elevators. It was meant strictly for business use...forewomen, the owners, salesmen, buyers, used it for quick communication between floors. Regular staff members used the Greene Street staircase.

The door was locked around closing time, to keep workers from exiting thru it with stolen goods. It was PROBABLY locked around lunch break, to keep Union organizers from slipping into the factory thru it.

The key was kept tied to the door, probably to avert the problem of someone locking the door, walking off with the key, and losing it.

The timing of the fire adds ambiguity. It happened around 4:40. The machines had just shut down, and people were gathering their coats, chatting, preparing to leave the building, etc. So, it might already have been locked. But, it might not have been.

If it was unlocked, then the first person to turn the key would have locked it. Several persons turning the key create a confusion. I think that May Levantini, the last to survive the jump into the elevator shaft, was telling the truth about unlocking the door at close to the last minute and finding the stairs impassable.

>I still say the owners could of went back and done something

By the time the Tenth floor was emptied, there was nothing they could have done. The fire came in thru the rear windows of the shop on the ninth floor, and soon reached the Greene Street exit.

Rose Cohen ran into the doorway on the ninth floor, and ran IN to the burning tenth floor. She was saved by the last man out- a book keeper.

A few minutes later, Ida Nelson found the stairs blocked. She saved herself by wrapping herself in a roll of longerine, mummy-style, and running into the flames. She ran up the stairs, on fire, and ran for the roof. She must also have held her breath- she did not draw flames into her lungs. Rose Cohen saw her emerge on to the roof, and helped beat the flames out.

At least one other woman saved herself by wrapping herself in fabric and running in to the fire.

By the time the tenth floor was evacuated, the ninth floor was a minute or two away from becoming escape proof, unless you wanted to wrap yourself in highly flammable fabric and run directly into a fire while hoping that the staircase was not on fire as well.

The owners did a fair job on the tenth floor...only one fatality... and, realistically, could have done nothing on the ninth.

The time that mattered were the minutes BEFORE the ninth floor erupted. The owners and managers never thought to tell Mary Alter, switchboard operator, to phone a warning down to the ninth. So, she didn't. They DID send a man down to give warning, but by then the rear of the shop was already begining to burn. So, he stayed by the stairs, calming women and hurrying them thru the door.

The real death trap on the ninth floor was the dressing room. Maybe 40 people died in and around the elevator shaft. But, as many as a hundred in that crowd didn't. Two died for every five who escaped.

Quite a few girls, and men, described running in to the dressing room, and finding it packed with people who...presumably...hoped to close the door and ride out the fire. Those girls and men fled and escaped. No one who tried to ride the fire out in that room lived. Despite the locked door, the people trapped in the Washington Place elevator lobby seem to have had the best chances of surviving, of those on the ninth floor. 70-100 lived and, at most, 40 died. Of those NOT trapped in that corner, 70-100 lived, and as many as 105 died.

The story almost immediately became MOVIE OF THE WEEK material, with evil owners and panicked teenagers who died clawing at a locked door.

The American Experience documentary, with its shot of a solid wooden door, and a faceless man walking away with the key, reenforced that.

Never addressed was the fact that Triangle was a tenant.

Asch, the building's OWNER, got a free pass.

In 1911, he was quick to point out that his building confirmed to the letter of the law.

Not quite.

The Asch building was, in fact, a safer structure than the World Trade Center would be, and a safer workplace environment. After all, it had two remote fireproof staircases which did not ignite, and structural steel encased in terracotta and cement, none of which caved in.

But....

The Asch Building, as built in 1900, should have had a THIRD fireproof staircase. Somehow...thru all the planning and constructing stages.... no one noticed, or at least objected to, the fact that there were only two.

When it WAS noticed, post-fact, that the building had insufficient fire exits, instead of forcing Asch to expensively chip away concrete flooring and build the missing staircase, the city then agreed to allow him a "pass" by saying that the fire escape counted as the third staircase.

However....

The Fire Inspectors noted that the fire escape only went as far as the second floor. Even if you managed to get down it, there was no way to get off it. Instead of condemning the building, they took Asch's word that the situation would be remedied.

In 1911, the fire escape STILL ended at the second floor. And directly below it was a first floor addition, with a glass roof. And, an iron fence with points atop it.

The doors to the fire escape opened outward. Those escaping from the eighth floor blocked those coming down from the ninth behind a door barricade. And then so many women (as many as 25) crowded on to the platform at the ninth floor, and became trapped, that the platform tore off the building and threw the women down thru the skylight or on to the iron fence. Those who fell thru the skylight set the first floor extension on fire.

Asch, to me, seems more like the villain of the piece, with NYC a close second. The business owners may not have known if their doors were locked as early as 4:40. But Asch CERTAINLY knew that his building was one staircase short, and had a fire escape that ended in midair. And, the city let him slide on it, repeatedly, so TECHNICALLY he did nothing illegal.
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and, a large version:

escape.jpg


These, to me, are the very best Triangle images. The locked door was NOT a major death trap...one more elevator run and those people would have escaped. The defective fire escape and the omitted staircase WERE death traps. Yet Asch dodged that particular bullet with no problem at all.
 
May 27, 2007
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May Levantini, I never knew what to think of her account. I thought for a while that someone must of kicked the door in but she would of said so. So I scratched that theory off. You make a good point. What a tricky lock on that damn door.

>>The time that mattered were the minutes BEFORE the ninth floor erupted.<<

Exactly, also in the another way then you stated. The Fire Chief or Marshal was already gripping about sprinklers and a proper fire drill because of a factory fire a month earlier or so the HBO Special said.

That fire escape was a joke. It came unattached after 25 Triangle Workers got on it because it couldn't handle the heat or the weight. Third staircase my eye. It was a death trap.

The Unions were also supposedly big on proper fire safety or what passed for it at the time. I think they kind of rode the wave after the fire though on harping about it to further their own ends but what ever works.

My point being, the unions did improve conditions and gave workers a voice. I saw the 'Story of America' on the History Channel which also had a segment on the Triangle Fire and later on also had a bit about a munitions factory during WII and the danger the girls who worked there faced during a thunderstorm. They were evacuated because of the danger of the storm. Now those girls were union workers so the union did force bosses to take care of their own employees. As Union members took care of the Union

My own grandma, who worked at Shaffer Pen as an engraver was a firm unionist and while she got on good with her bosses and even went to school with on of them she still went on strike when the union told her to. Which she did in the early 70's for some reason or other.

That is one thing I liked the PBS special is that it focused on the union movement although the show did not really provide an intimate portrait of the factory and the workers like the HBO Special did. The PBS one was more broadly based. If they would of called it "Birth Of The Unions" the show would of been better received.
 

Jim Kalafus

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>The Fire Chief or Marshal was already griping about sprinklers and a proper fire drill because of a factory fire a month earlier

That was the fire in Newark, which was basically a dry-run for the Triangle.

It wouldn't be until 1938 that NYC got a fire code with real teeth in it. And that only lasted until 1968. Big business, and a big business friendly government, agreed that modern fireproofing methods made the 1938 code TOO stringent. "Remote" staircases were altered to "Remote as practical." The amount of time structural supports needed to withstand a full-on blaze without collapsing was halved. Hello, World Trade Center.
 

Mike Poirier

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George
That's a private joke between Jim and myself. Maybe you need to keep out of things not addressed to you
 
May 27, 2007
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what especially stands out from this magazine article is Sadie Hampson being improperly trained for her job.

Quote from the article, "She (Sadie) wasn't hired to understand about the vacuum and the gas and the electric current; she was hired to press buttons, and, if anything went wrong, to call the boss. That is the common way in factories – many girls at machines to perform mechanical actions, and a boss to do the thinking for all."

What Miss Hampson had to say to the Coroner's Jury.

Sadie Hampson: "I don't know how it started," Sadie Hampson explained to the coroner's jury, "because I don't understand electricity. The boss understands, and he'll tell you if you ask him. The boss always told me to be careful, and I was careful. There was a flash of fire into my face, and I screamed, 'Mr. McQuat!' I guess I must I have called different from usual, for I often call 'Mr. McQuat' when I get out of carbons, and he calls back, 'Wait a minute!' But this I time he ran right out of the office, so I must I have called different. I don't know what happened next. No, I don't know how I got out of the building, I was frantic with fright. I only know there was an awful flash and I called 'Mr. McQuat!' I just thought that if I got my boss everything would be all right."

It wasn't alright because Sadie Hampson wasn't taught what to do. All in all though a fascinating article.

1910 Newark Factory Fire
by Mary Alden Hopkins
published April 1911 McClure's Magazine"
Volume 36, Number 6

http://www.oldnewark.com/histories/factoryfire01.htm

Thanks to the Newark Historical Society for sharing this article online.
 
May 27, 2007
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"Maybe you need to keep out of things not addressed to you."

Touche, the word "Satchmo" grabbed my attention given its meaning plus the fact that it had nothing to do with the Triangle Factory Fire. It seemed out of place.

It might of not been addressed to me but I bet it concerned me. So I will leave you and Mr Kalafus to continue this conversation without me to interrupt you.
 

Jim Kalafus

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May 27, 2007
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Naw, I got over it but perhaps that kind of private joke is best meant for the PM and not for a public form.

"The findings of the Coroner's Jury~

Direct Causes of the Fire
In spite of the jury's finding, the death of Carrie Robrecht and her twenty-four companions was not "accidental." They lost their lives because they worked in a building that was not decently safe for human beings to work in -- that was very dangerous for men, and more so for women. In addition to the facts that the building itself was highly inflammable, that it contained one explosive manufactory, and that ten fires had broken out in it within ten years, there were five causes of danger that might easily have been remedied:

1. The absence of any interior fire-alarm system. In this case the girls on the top floor, who were in the greatest danger, did not know that a fire had broken out until the three lower floors were emptied.

2. The fact that there was no interior exit but an inclosed wooden stairway, scarcely more than a yard wide, and directly exposed by the elevator-shaft. 3. The fact that the entire provision against fire consisted of two small fire-escapes. The two existing fire-escapes were taxed to their utmost capacity, and about sixty girls got safely down them.

4. The fact that these fire-escapes were extremely difficult of access because the window-ledges were forty-eight inches from the floor.

5. The absence of a fire or exit drill among the employees, such as is now used so successfully in public schools, and which, even in a building as bad as this, might have saved many lives.""

I think some of this applies to to the Triangle fire as well. If New York did not get a decent fire drill then I wonder when some of the smaller towns got one. I know that FT Madison started using them in the early 30's but only in buildings which were being built then. Shaffer Pen had them and the munitions plant outside of Burlington Ia which my Mom remembers from working there in the late 1960's.

Jim you posted a link I already posted in my previous posts. Third times the charm. Although it is a good article.=-J
 

Jim Kalafus

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Dec 3, 2000
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A big hole in the story of Triangle seems to be exactly who it was who saw to it that the ninth floor door was locked at closing time.

A curious omission on both the prosecution and defense sides.

I dont recall that either of the major books, or any of the TV specials, ever produced a quote in which a Triangle employee said YES, IT WAS MY JOB TO LOCK THE DOOR.

The NYC transcripts of the trial were most likely thrown out by accident in the 1980s or 1990s ...they were put aside to be 'preserved' and at that point vanished...either thrown out, or mislaid... and although David von Drehle found a second set, it is in private hands and there is no word on whether it is being microfilmed or not.

But, I am curious to see if somewhere, in the transcripts, there was every any discussion about who locked the door, and when. SOMEBODY had to have that duty...it was most likely too important to be assigned to "whoever gets around to it" ....but as far as I know, no one has ever been identified as He or She Who Locked or failed to Lock the Fatal Door.
 

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