The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire
Event 03-25-1911, the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire,
New York City. In 18 minutes it left 146 dead, mostly young immigrant women
workers who were said to be traditionally locked inside the building by
their employers allegedly to prevent the women from leaving their work
stations, but others said only one door was kept open so the girls could
be searched for stolen lace or material.
The fire occurred in the top three stories of a 10-story
building and the city's fire ladders only reached to the seventh floor.
Most of the women jumped to their death hand-in-hand from the upper story
windows rather than be burned alive.
How the fire started is not definitely known but investigators
found that in spite of work regulations, the male cutters were allowed
to smoke since "You would get little work out
of your men if you would prevent it," according to the company
The tight aisles had been choked with discarded scraps
and papers. The loft buildings such as housed the Triangle company avoided
the New York fire and health codes which stipulated that there be 150 cubic
feet of air for each worker by having ceilings 12 feet or more so the air
was above was counted while the workers themselves were packed in unsanitary
conditions that spawned brown lung.
A photograph taken after the fire shows the one fire
escape made of inferior steel twisted and broken from the weight of the
women attempting escape who fell to their deaths. None of the Triangle
managment or owners were ever punished. Except for a VERY minor wrist slapping,
they were back in business shortly afterwards.
03-25 DATES, ANNIVERSARIES, and
B. 03-25-1347, Saint Catherine of Sienna, Italian mystic who
helped persuade the pope to return the papacy to Rome from France.
B. 03-25-1872, Higuchi Ichiyo, Japanese poet and novelist.
B. 03-25-1921, Mary Douglas, English social anthropologist authority
on the meaning of symbols, rules, and patterns of social behavior.
B. 03-25-1921, Nancy Kelly, actress won 1955 Tony Award for her
performance in Bad Seed.
B. 03-25-1921, Simone Signoret, French actress, writer. Appeared
in the classic La Ronde, 1950, and won the 1958 Academy Award for
her work in A Room at the Top.
B. 03-25-1922, Eileen Ford, model agency executive.
B. 03-25-1934, Gloria Steinem, author, journalist, feminist,
strong voice of the feminist movement; referred to by the media during
the 70s as "the pretty one." Co-founder of Ms. Magazine
B. 03-25-1940, Anita Bryant, singer, was Miss Oklahoma (1958)
and Miss America finalist, married a Miami Beach disk jockey who was rumored
to have ambiguous relations with Bryant's minister and together they had
a Svengali effect on her so that she turned right-wing religious activist
and spearheaded a vicious anti-gay campaign. After her divorce she mellowed
somewhat and moved to NW Arkansas where a lot of white aryans live.
B. 03-25-1942, Aretha Franklin, singer, multi Grammy award winner.
A national treasure.
QUOTES DU JOUR
woman depends on the ordinary woman. It is only when we know what were
the conditions of the average woman's life, the number of her children,
whether she had money of her own, if she had a room to herself, whether
she had help in bringing up her family, if she had servants, whether part
of the housework was her tasks - it is only when we can measure the way
of life and the experience of life made possible to the ordinary woman
that we can account for the success or failure of the extraordinary woman
as a writer."
Virginia Woolf, British essayist, critic and novelist, born 01-25-1882,
writing in A Room of Her Own.
"Women have served all
these centuries as looking glasses possessing the magic and delicious power
of reflecting the figure of man at twice its natural size."
"I would venture to
guess that Anon, who wrote so many poems without signing them, was often
"Masterpieces are not
single and solitary births; they are the outcome of many years of thinking
in common, of thinking by the body of the people, so that the experience
of the mass is behind the single voice."
"Can you imagine a
world without men? No crime and lots of fat happy women."
Sylvia, cartoon by Nicole Hollander