Thursday, October 6, 2011

No Smiles Today-This Is A Heart Wrencher

I know a lot of you come here
for a smile in the morning.
Today is just a bit different.
A bit somber.

We have been coming to the UP
(Upper Peninsula of Michigan)
as a get-away
for many years.
It is a soul soother for both of us.

About 10 years ago I picked up a
book that was written locally.
Tinsel And Tears.
It fascinated me.
It talked about the
Italian Hall disaster
in a building that was built
in 1908,
a proud building for
a thriving mining town.

In 1913 during a miner's strike,
there was a lot of hard feelings between
the mine owners and the workers.
They had been on strike for
several months.

When Christmas rolled around
several of the wealthy wives
decided to have a
Christmas party
Christmas Eve
for the miner's children.
Many of them did not even
have enough to eat
because their fathers had
been unemployed for several

They proceeded to set up
food and presents for all
the families in the
upstairs rooms of the
Italian Hall.

As the gifts began to be
handed out
(no one ever proved who it was)

In a crowded upstairs banquet hall,
with only one narrow stairwell
going down to the outside.
Panic ensued.
They all rushed to save themselves.
Down this stairway.
The door at the bottom
opened inward.
It was locked-
or as many speculated-
held in place by
thugs from the mining company.
It is a mystery that was
never solved.

73 people perished that night.
59 of them were children
aged from 3 to 12.
There are pictures of the
children lying lined up
like angels in the morgue
but I couldn't bring myself
to post them.

too much is just too much.

We went today and walked
the cobblestones
up to the arch over the
front door that still stands
We read the plaque the memorializes
the awful event.
We left and moved on with our day.
but I will forever be saddened
by the thought of those
precious children
going to a party,
dressing up in their
"bestest clothes"
and dying trying
to escape a fire
that never was.

Can you imagine?
Can you imagine the grief,
not only of losing a child,
but the grief, and anger,
that it happened so needlessly.
And on Christmas Eve,
that most holy of Eves.
A Christmas Eve that
will haunt the town

All you Moms and Dads
 and Nanas and Papas-
Hug your children tight tonight
and kiss those precious faces.
Revel in their lives
we are all
blessed to have them.

A sad post today-
but smiles tomorrow-
I promise.
your photo name


From the Kitchen said...

Thanks for sharing that sadly touching story. One wonders how anyone could do such a think--most especially in that season and to children.


Debbiedoo's blogging and blabbing said...

awww..Diana that is a sad story. I bet it just felt to surreal there. Even then there were bad people, we can never understand.

Michele Smith said...

Awful, that is so sad.

Gina said...

Wow, that is a heartbreaking story. Those poor people, those poor children.

Patty said...

So sad! Poor children! But - remember, to die is gain. They went on to be with Jesus and there is really no better place to be.

michelle said...

How tragic and just awful. I just don't understand people.

Debby said...

That is so sad. I had never heard of this. Unreal.

A Vintage Vine said...

I love knowing history like this...It teaches us a lesson....hopefully! It is a very said story but one that should never be forgotten! Thanks for sharing!

Sharon @ Elizabeth & Co. said...

Oh my goodness, that really is a sad story Diana. It must have given you chills to start there and visualize that tragic night.

jAne said...

no words . . .

classic • casual • home said...

So sad. But it makes you appreciate life and what we have. Thank God.

My Blessed Serendipity Life said...

What a sad and tragic story. I can't imagine the fear and pain those people felt as they died in the fire.


Tete said...

Oh Diana, such a tragedy on this side...but, what a day in Heaven when 59 children walked through those pearly gates for the best Christmas they ever had. I cannot begin to imagine the sadness, grief and anger felt for those here who had to tend to all those bodies, making all those caskets, digging all those graves. All the tears and years of images that they could never forget. But I can imagine 59 tiny souls leaving this world together, hand in hand. Being a starving child of a striking minor in 1913 would not have been an easy life at all...and to go from having nothing to having everything...sitting at the throne of God.
I also cannot imagine being the one who yelled the word "FIRE!" or being the ones who held those doors...and having to live with it the rest of my life...or being the one who had designed the doors to open inward...just one small detail not thought through...
Did this finish tearing this town apart or did it unify it like nothing else could as they all took turns with hammers and shovels...each person walking in the same shoes as the others as they made their way along the same path to the cemetery?
How many angels flooded those streets and held those up, kept knees from buckling and tended to the broken hearted?
A fine post today, to those who endured so much.

Julie Harward said...

That is so sad...good thing there is a Heaven to welcome such sweet souls. :D

Kimberly said...

Yes, hard to imagine such heartlessness in a person. Sadly, there are still such wicked people living even today.

Nezzy said...

Awwww, what a tragic heartwrenchin' story! I can only imagine how you felt walkin' on that hallowed ground.

Heaven is richer!

God bless ya sweetie and have an incredible day!!! :o)

Pamela said...

Wow. This is so sad but with lesson for all of us. Count your matter what troubles we may be facing someone is going through something worse. I always say that to my hubby. I can't even imagine the grief of the parents. Horrible.
Thanks for sharing Diana...and give that Sweet Cheeks a big smooch for me! Pamela xoxo

Annesphamily said...

Oh this is so sad! I hate reading about these stories and the sadness is the stories are true! I remember my kids school principal telling us about a terrible fire in Cleveland and how her dad became the fire chief years later and worked hard to pass a law that doors have to open in front of you and not pull in toward you. She said it was a terrible fire in a school and many children died because the doors were not able to get opened with people pushing up against each other! They were trapped inside too! But this story you tell is so tragic because someone killed all these innocent people and for what? Truly heartbreaking. Anne

Cindy@ Applestone Cottage said...

That is just heart-wrenching Diana! There really is pure evil in this world...and that story is a perfect example of it.
Where in the UP?
Hugs friend,
Enjoying the weather?

Cindy Adkins said...

Oh my gosh--this is so incredibly sad and what a tragedy it was...It's hard to fathom how there could be such cruelty--especially on Christmas Eve. It certainly was Tinsel and Tears--and such sad for those parents of those children and families and children of the adults...Sometimes in life we can't believe certain things transpire...this is certainly one of those times.

Donna said...

Oh my goodness, Diana, I hadn't heard that story. What town was that in? Calumet? Please tell me you are NOT going to visit the Jam Pot while you are up there! I am going to be SO jealous of you if you are! Well, if you MUST go, then do be sure to have one of their to die for muffins in honor of me:) PS: make sure that it's the one with the cream cheese frosting!!!

A Cottage Muse said...

Oh my...what a tragedy!
So could someone be so cruel.

Rebecca said...

I've heard of this before... Sometimes I wonder if society is any better behaved today. :( So much violence out there...

Blessings to you sweet friend~


Anonymous said...

What a terrible tragedy. I always wonder what makes a person so violent to do such things.