By Charles Arnot, United Press staff writer
By Charles Arnot, United Press staff writer
By Florence Fisher Parry
Let’s be fair. Let’s not persecute one group and let all the others go. We’re in a war to stop such practices. But can we? It’s human nature to pounce upon the specially accused.
The Boston nightclub fire was a horrible disaster, a shameful, preventable thing. Investigation is strictly in order and there isn’t a nightclub in the land so safe but is under suspicion and open to investigation and immediate closedown if found to be a public hazard. In all our major cities, popular nightclubs have been closed for necessary safety improvements. In Pittsburgh, several of our resorts, enjoying holiday business, have had to make costly changes and “improvements.” Concrete floor, fireproof buildings, etc., have been found not to be enough. They have had to put steel doors between their kitchens and dance floor, tear up stairways and floors, open new exits, and otherwise submit to new blueprints for safety.
They have been further penalized by minor impositions which have discriminated against their business.
Had this fire occurred in a motion picture theater, a store, an office building, a hotel, a crowded drugstore – indeed in any of a hundred different public places whose fire hazards are just as great as those presented by that nightclub in Boston, I question whether such places of business would have been subjected to the INSTANT investigation to which the nightclubs all over America have been exposed.
For a long time, the public has had it “in” for the nightclubs; the very name has carried an unhealthy savor. And with that blanket fervor in which we bunch our prejudices, ALL places of after-dark entertainment – with the exception of the theaters and the movies – have suffered stigma.
The match that lit the artificial palm tree in the Boston Cocoanut Grove, caused no wilder fire than the wave of hysteria that has hit at the nightclubs of America. They ALL were condemned, almost before the investigation began. And in a record time – so quickly were they pounced upon by the law – hundreds were closed, forbidden to reopen until the most exacting physical chances were made.
We commend the investigators. They have acted with record speed and efficiency. But we question whether they would have been fired with the same zeal, and their findings acted upon with the same dispatch, if the business under investigation had been, say, some store, or even the motion picture business, which has taken on in recent years the dignity of a major industry and is well-represented by powerful men quite able to project its interests.
I am not a frequenter of nightclubs. I am almost ashamed to admit that I haven’t seen a “floor show” for years. I don’t believe I would recognize, on sight, the proprietor of any nightclub in Pittsburgh or New York or anywhere. I used to know the Shanley brothers in New York, nice Irishmen with fine upstanding families.
But whenever I have gone to one of these night places, I have been struck by the high quality of their entertainment, the elaborate and costly shows provided, and the many really talented young show folks and musicians who seem to me to be making a gallant effort to get along in the show business.
I have loved to watch the happy couples on the dance floor; and when the smoke and congestion and noise have begun to get me down a little, I have been willing enough to lay it to the fact that my years are simply outgrowing such innocent and harmless recreations.
But it has always seemed to me unfair that our nightclubs have never seemed to be able to outlive the stigma imposed upon them way back in the bootleg days. They’re still no better than speakeasies in the minds of too many would-be reformers. And the Boston fire has served to give unbridled rein to this all to prevalent prejudice.
ARE nightclubs indeed anymore more of a fire hazard than any other kind of place where people foregather for ANY purpose? I know of estimable lodge rooms, yes, churches, which are firetraps. I can walk through the best of stores, big and little, and indulge the grisly speculation of what would happen if their Christmas decorations would catch on fire. I’ve slept in good hotels in the full knowledge that a well-started fire could trap me utterly. Many stores boast their crowded basements. What about the elevator shafts and stairways of office buildings? Have investigations of restaurants disclosed ideal fire protection? I think not. Go into any crowded restaurant these busy shopping days and speculate upon what would happen in a fire panic. In any theater, “legitimate” or variety or motion picture, there is no way fully to protect the audience if it panics. I don’t care HOW many exits there are.
Let’s be fair. The Boston Cocoanut Grove fire, like the Chicago Iroquois Theater fire, has focused investigation upon only ONE fire hazard. But why shall we be specific and confine our attack and reform to the nightclubs?
Why close up only these offenders?
Look around you, and be fair!
But with all eyes on 1944, party leaders work to avert explosion
By Thomas L. Stokes, Scripps-Howard staff writer
Boston, Massachusetts –
The official death toll of the Cocoanut Grove fire rose to 494 today as investigators disclosed that about 200 more witnesses will be heard before the case is ready for submission to the Suffolk County grand jury. The latest victim was Miss Joan St. Pierre of Belmont, who died at City Hospital.
Hollywood, California (UP) –
Filmland pays homage to one of its most authentic Western stars today at the funeral of Charles “Buck” Jones, who died of burns in Boston’s tragic Cocoanut Grove fire.
Delegations representing many organizations, including the office of Sheriff Eugene Biscailuz, the Al Malaikah Temple of Shriners, Henry S. Orme Masonic Lodge, the Jesters and Jones’ Studio, Monogram, will attend the High Episcopal services in a Washington Boulevard chapel.
Jones, 50, who grew up in the great outdoors which backgrounded the films making him famous, had averaged eight pictures a year for 20 years.
Partnership offer to her empire gives life to Atlantic Charter
By William Philip Simms, Scripps-Howard foreign editor
Indicating labor surplus or shortage helps direct war contracts to factories where they can be handled best, director says
The Navy announced today hat relatives and correspondents of Marine Corps personnel on duty ashore overseas may now make use of an inexpensive, rapid means of communication known as the EFM (Expeditionary Force Message) service.
Through this service, messages are accepted at any public telegraph, cable or radio office and are transmitted as cablegrams or radiograms to overseas bases. Cost of an EFM message is 60¢ plus tax.