Sunday, December 30, 2012

On the Sixth Day of Christmas....

It's Bacon Day today, a celebration of all things bacon.

Your arteries may not thank you, but (if you're a bacon-lover) your stomach may.

If your stomach does not thank you, today is also National Bicarbonate of Soda Day.

Today is also the anniversary of the Iroquois Theater Fire of 1903.

Have you ever noticed how all the doors inside a theater open outward, from the theater into the lobby?

It was not always so. In Chicago, the brand new Iroquois Theater was billed as 'absolutely fireproof,' but it turned out to be anything but.

The fire started backstage -- a light shorted out or something -- and, although the actors scattered at the first whiff of smoke, star Eddie Foy came back on stage and tried to urge calm. (Bob Hope played Foy in The Seven Little Foys.)

Foy told the audience that the asbestos fire curtain would be lowered to smother the fire. Experts later said that the 'asbestos' curtain was more paper or wood pulp than asbestos and wouldn't have worked if it had been lowered. But it wasn't lowered. It got stuck on the way down -- and that's when the stampede seems to have started.

The linked article puts the death toll at 591; the linked Wikipedia article puts it the toll at "at least 605." Either way, panicked theater patrons piled up against locked exit doors -- inward facing exit doors -- and were trampled, or smothered, by others piling up behind them.

The saddest part was that the owners and builders of this theater knew, or should have known, of the dangers they'd created.

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