And finally: a couple of good old adverts
The carrot is one of the most valuable of all our root vegetables and to-day we are apt to take them a little too much for granted and to forget how rich they are in protective elements. Among other good things they contain “carotene,” one of the important sources of Vitamin A which strengthens our resistance to infection. There is a certain amount of sugar in them, too, and this is useful for our war-time diet. As many a wise mother knows, the child who eats raw carrot freely is most unlikely to have a craving for sweets. Most children, fortunately, love raw carrot and below we have given some suggestions for introducing it into the daily diet. Adults may find it a little strange at first but it is such a real health food that it is well worth while persevering with it.
Some recipes for cooking carrots.
The carrots should be well washed, lightly scraped and grated. Children (and adults too for that matter) should have at least two tablespoonsful each day. It may be eaten in sandwiches and is often liked when put between bread spread with margarine and a little vegetable extract. Wholemeal bread goes particularly well with carrot. Here are two other sandwich suggestions.
1. Add two parts of grated raw carrot to one part of finely shredded white heart of cabbage, and bind with chutney or sweet pickle. Pepper and salt to taste.
2. Prepare and cut the carrot into small cubes, and cook in well blended curry sauce. When perfectly tender, the vegetable forms a substantial spread, yielding to the knife.
Raw carrot may also be served grated in a vegetable salad. Put it in heaps on fresh lettuce leaves, or with the finely shredded heart of a cabbage with chopped beetroot, chopped celery, grated apple and so on. Here are two useful salads.
A Quick Salad
An economical winter salad for four people can be made by mixing a teacupful of grated raw carrot with a teacupful of the finely shredded heart of a young cabbage and the contents of a tin of baked beans in tomato sauce.
Carrot Cap Salad
Cook two or three good sized potatoes in their skins. When tender, strain without drying off, to avoid making them floury. Slice and dice neatly; then dress in vinaigrette dressing (two parts of salad oil to one of vinegar, pepper and salt to taste) while they are still hot. Pile in a salad bowl lined with a few shredded lettuce leaves or watercress. Sprinkle with a little chopped chive or rings of spring onion, and pile high with grated carrot. To make a more substantial dish, add one or two boned sardines or fillets of smoked herring.
Wash and scrape the carrots and if large cut into rings. Put them in the top of a steamer, sprinkle with a little salt and steam about 20 minutes. If liked, serve with parsley sauce.
Prepare the carrots as above and boil in a very little salted water in a covered saucepan until tender. Use the liquid for gravy or soup, or thicken it with flour (1/2 oz. flour to 1/4-pint liquid) boil well and serve the carrots in it.
Prepare 1 Ib. carrots as above and put in a saucepan with l oz. fat and a few tablespoonfuls of salted water. Put on the lid and simmer until tender. Dish up the carrots and keep hot. Add a generous sprinkling of finely chopped parsley or the feathery tops of the carrots to the liquid in the pan, boil up, pour over the carrots and serve at once.
Carrots Baked Round the Joint
When cooking a joint, prepare carrots as above and put them in the baking tin round the joint. Cover with margarine paper until the last ten minutes.
1 Ib. carrots outside sticks and tops of a head of celery 1/2 oz. fine oatmeal a few bacon rinds or 1 oz. bacon fat pepper and salt and a pinch of nutmeg, if liked.
Scrape the carrots and cut into rings. Wash the celery and cut into inch lengths. Frizzle the bacon rinds or melt the fat in a saucepan, put in the carrots and celery and cook gently for about 5 minutes, shaking occasionally. Add 1 1/2 pints of water and simmer for 1 hour; then mash the vegetables to pulp with the blunt end of a rolling pin. Remove the bacon rinds and any stringy bits of celery. Blend the oatmeal with a little water and add to the soup. Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, then season and serve with rusks, made by baking the ends of a loaf, or any left over bread, in the oven till quite crisp.
Carrots and Peas
Scrape and slice 1 Ib. of carrots. Boil in half a teacupful of salted water for about 10 minutes. Then put in a teacupful of shelled peas and a little chopped mint. Cover and boil until the peas are ready. Drain, saving the water for gravy or soup, and if possible, toss in teaspoonful of margarine before serving.
Carrots and Sprouts
Scrape and slice the carrots, prepare and slice the sprouts. Steam together until tender (about 15 minutes) sprinkling them with a little salt in the steamer. If possible, toss together with a teaspoonful of margarine before serving.
Carrots and Apples
This may sound an unusual combination but it is very good served with roast meat. Scrape and slice 1 Ib. of carrots; peel and quarter 1/2 Ib. apples. Put a teacupful of salted water in a saucepan, put in the carrots and lay the apples on top. Do not stir. Simmer until both are tender, then take out the apples with a spoon and arrange in the centre of a dish, with the carrots round them. Keep hot. Thicken the liquid in the pan with a teaspoonful of fine oatmeal, mixed to a smooth paste with a little water, add a teaspoonful of margarine if possible, and a pinch of mixed spice if liked. Boil for 5 minutes and then pour over the carrots and apples and serve.
This is light, digestible and delicious for a meatless lunch or dinner. 1/4 Ib. carrots 1/2 teacupful of milk
1/2 oz. margarine pinch of nutmeg
1/2 oz. flour pepper and salt
Scrape, boil, drain and mash the carrots. Melt the margarine in a small pan, stir in the flour, cook together for a few minutes and then stir in the milk. Add the carrot puree, a pinch of nutmeg, pepper and salt to taste and pour into a well greased basin or mould. Steam for 3/4 of an hour.
The dish looks most attractive if the mixture is set in a border mould and the centre filled with cooked spinach or other green vegetables. In any case, tomatoes or a green vegetable should accompany it.
6 carrots 1 gill of milk
1 oz. margarine 1 oz. cornflour
seasoning to taste fat for frying
Cook the carrots in the usual waytill tender, drain and put through a sieve. Add seasoning to taste. Make a thick white sauce with the cornflour, margarine and milk, and then add the sieved carrot to it. Leave till cold, then shape into croquettes, roll in oatmeal and fry in hot, deep fat. Drain well and serve.
Curried Carrots and Chestnuts in Potato Border
2 Ibs. Carrots 1/2 oz. flour
1 Ib. chestnuts 1 apple peeled and sliced
1/4 oz curry powder 1 stick celery, chopped
1 oz. dripping 1/2 onion (if possible) peeled and sliced
1 pint stock or water 1 tablespoonful plum jam
a dash of vinegar
Scrape and slice the carrots. Nick the chestnuts, put into a pan of cold water, bring to the boil and, while still hot, remove the skins.
Melt the dripping in a pan, put in the apple, onion, celery and curry powder and fry them lightly. Then mix in the water and vinegar, stir well and add the carrots, chestnuts and plum jam. Cover and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes. Serve with a border of mashed potatoes.
How to store Carrots
The secret of storing carrots is in lifting them (pulling them up) in good condition. Lift them during dry weather, not later than the middle of October. Reject all blemished carrots and all damaged or forked roots. It is not necessary to clean them, but be careful to see they are quite dry.
You will need a dry shed for your storing, if possible with a stone or concrete floor, and some slightly moist sand. If you cannot get sand, earth taken from the top of the ground, shaken through a very fine sieve and slightly moistened, is the best substitute.
Lay alternate rows of carrots and sand (or earth) either on the ground, in pyramid shape, or in boxes. Cover your pyramid or box with sand (or earth). Put over it a layer of straw as a safeguard against frost. The carrots should be stored crown to tail in rows. Use the carrots as you require them, but take care that the remaining pile is always well covered. It is a wise plan to rebuild your pyramid at least once during the winter.
Glasses Clink Gloomily as Saloon Gets Dry News (1919)
(From the Philadelphia Evening Public Ledger – January 16, 1919)
Barkeep Almost Collapses and Rum Hounds Mingle Briny Tears With Social Bibblers When Joy-killer Tells What Nebraska Went and Did
Groans went up from the tipplers when the news flashed around that the Nebraska Legislature had voted the whole country dry by ratifying the prohibition amendment to the Federal Constitution.
The washerwoman sat down in her soapsuds at the first shock. Then she cuffed the ears of her nearest offspring and sent her away from the ringer for a bucket of “suds” that wasn’t soap.
There was a general rush to the nearest barroom by those who could get away.
Fat and smiling, spick and span in a clean white apron and coat, the barkeep smiled and rubbed his hands as the horde burst through the swinging doors. But his happiness was short-lived.
“Huh?” he pleaded in a voice that was more a moan than a question, as the vanguard broke the news. No smile was reflected in the smooth, shining surface of the bar, as he leaned forward and inclined one ear, hoping against hope that he had heard wrong.
“S-s-say that again.”
“It’s the truth,” hoarsely whispered the joy-killer.
The clink of glasses was stilled for a long moment of silence. The mirror behind the bar reflected a long line of faces that were longer. The drooping back of the bartender loomed smaller than it ever had before.
The joy-killer tried to moisten his lips with his tongue and failed.
“Let’s have a drink,” he finally achieved more hoarsely than before.
The spell was broken and the drowning of sorrows began. The barkeep laid aside his troubles as the long line of long faces grew longer. The rum hound and the social drinker were standing side-by-side, weeping on each other’s shoulders, as the joy-killer announced he “mush be goin.”
“Aw, you’re not gonna quit now, the crowd chorused.
“Yesh-mush be goin.” Thish place only staysh open till midnight. I’m gonna fin’ one thatsh open all night.”
When the press of business became too great the bartender woke up the proprietor from where he slept over in the corner with his feet on his desk. But the proprietor had no time for pouring drinks for the mourners now. Grabbing his hat, he rushed away to the wholesale house to lay in the stock he had postponed buying in the hope that something would happen to keep things wet.
And this laying in of stock is the most popular indoor sport in Philadelphia today.
(From the Ogden Standard – February 21, 1910)
Girls in St. Louis Get Leprosy from Them
ST. LOUIS – Acting on information received by the Board of Health, that there are two girls in the city suffering from leprosy caused by the wearing of hair made from Asiatic rats, G. A. Jordan, assistant health commissioner of St. Louis, announced today that he would begin an investigation into the sale of hirsute goods here.
The two victims of the malady are being treated in St. Louis secretly, and Dr. Jordan will make an effort to have them located and quarantined.
The girls, according to the health board’s informant, were employed until a few days ago in a store downtown. The proprietor of the store had them both sent to a physician, whose name the health board is seeking to learn.
The two young women were removed to a private sanitarium, where they are being guarded
(From the Ogden Standard – May 22, 1915)
Government Secret Service Agents in Desperate Battle with Drug Users Since Harrison Act Went Into Effect – Frightful Conditions Reported by U.S. Officers in Making Numerous Raids.
Is the Harrison anti-drug act recently passed by congress and in effect since March causing a crime wave to sweep through the country? Will the more than a million drug-users in the United States eventually turn desperate criminals to win the money that will buy drugs at the present increased rate of the peddlers? There are indications of such a wave already.
While the government has been slow in the enforcement of this law because of a lack of deputy internal revenue agents, whose duty it is to ferret out violations of law, the effect of a partial enforcement has been felt throughout the country. In New York a number of people have committed crimes to obtain money for drugs at an increased rate.
Several drug users have killed themselves because of the deprivation while others have gone insane. Practically the same results have been felt in Chicago, St. Louis and other large cities.
In St. Louis several women have attempted suicide because they could not obtain the drugs and in Chicago a number of crimes have been traced to drug users.
The law, many complain, has placed an absolute ban on the sale of drugs to those addicted, but it has made no provision for the cure of the drug fiends. In the larger cities the hospitals established special wards where these people might undergo a cure, but the method itself was such a crude and cruel one that even physicians of repute themselves complained. The enforcement of the law threw these new patients on their hands and they could not treat them without giving them some drugs. To break a man or woman in a day of a habit contracted in years might cause a fatal reaction of the heart, they said, and many of them went on record in opposition to the Harrison law.
In several hospitals the Lambert-Towne treatment was used but with no great success, according to reports. It was too severe and caused many patients, willing to be cured, to leave the institution and go back to their old habits. It was based mostly on hyosciamine, a derivative of opium, but left the patient in anguish for more than 48 hours in the time the new drugs were battling the habit-forming alkaloids in his or her system.
The few who underwent this treatment are said to have returned to their old haunts and to have renewed the use of drugs.
Effects of Treatment
The first effects of the Lambert-Towne method was a dreadful nausea in which they were given practically no drugs and in which their systems were depended upon to fight out the battle. It was an experiment on the part of doctors. They had used the same cure in cases of delirium treatments with more or less success and thought it might conquer the drug habit.
When the Lambert-Towne method was objected to they restored the old treatment of giving gradually reducing quantities of drugs. Two bottles were arranged – one with a solution of the drugs to which the patient was addicted and the other of a cure. As the patient took from the bottle containing the narcotic, the amount was refilled from the bottle containing a cure until the drug bottle contained practically nothing but the cure.
Drug users, however, complained that when the reduction method started they were not given anywhere near the amount to which they were accustomed. Many of the patients took as high as 60 tablets of heroin a day while other fiends took 16 to 20 “shots” of morphine. When the amount was reduced they abandoned the hospitals in desperation and went back to their old haunts. Hospital doctors were sent out at night to go through the Tenderloin and Hop Alley districts to investigate and found practically all of their patients back in their old environment and all showing evidence of being under the influence of narcotics – although with the glibness and unreliability of chronic users of drugs, they denied it.
Despite the lack of cures for the habit the great machinery of the government has been set in motion toward the enforcement of the anti-drug act and between the activity of a limited number of internal revenue agents and the fear of the law violators have of the federal laws.
Farces in the Courts
In several courts men and women found guilty of selling cocaine have been given six months in jail, while under the state laws they received no more than a $50 fine for their offense. The $50 was paid by the politician or drug-vendor and all was over as far as the courts were concerned, although the person arrested – man or woman – was beaten almost into insensibility by the drug-vendor and other friends when he or she returned to the colony.
The terrible stress under which these people live – where they almost worship the one man who can supply them with drugs and are cruelly beaten by him when they are caught by private investigators – has been revealed to Federal investigators in recent raids. In fact, it is the intention of the United States government to go more deeply into these matters and ferret out not the poor unfortunates who sell cocaine for commission of the drug itself, but the real persons who make the profit.
The Federal courts are meting out jail sentences to the small offenders, but when the internal revenue agents get to the real sellers of cocaine – the men who make a great profit from the misfortunes of their brothers – there will be sentences of not less than five years in the Federal penitentiary, it is said.
The smaller offenders are the men and women who sell the drugs for their master, the man in control of the supply, for a commission on drugs. They work and slave for him and he owns them body and soul by his payment of a small box of cocaine or a few morphine tablets. The man in control is all the more heartless in that he is not a user of the drugs himself (such a man might be in sympathy with other stricken creatures), but is wise enough to let it alone and profit by their experiences.
In a recent raid of opium joints and lairs of the users of morphine and cocaine, Col. L.G. Nutt, in charge of the eastern division of Missouri and one of the most efficient and experienced internal revenue agents in the country, found hundreds of unfortunates under the influence of drugs.
A Case in Point
In St. Louis his men under his direction arrested Henry Wilsman, the so-called “Cocaine King.” This man, known as “Big Henry,” and having served a penitentiary sentence for slaying “Red” Tremaine, the last “cocaine king,” is alleged to have been selling the drugs to a colony of cocaine and morphine users in a miserable row of tenements nearby – a structure known as Filipino Row, and so filthy and foul that no human being, unless under the influence of drugs, would live there.
There were men and women of all types found there. Sturdy men who worked hard in the daytime so that in the night they might supply themselves with drugs, and women who sacrificed everything so that they, too, might satisfy this craving. There were women still showing marks of refinement – women who in their day had been of more or less social prominence in the city. One woman in particular was noted for her utter degradation. She is a member of a prominent family. She is wealthy, and owns a row of buildings valued at about $100,000. She rents these buildings to drug users and from the high rent she charges, more than derives enough money to well supply herself with the drug she craves.
While living another life she might be prominent socially and financially, but now she is known as the “snow bird.” She lives in a basement hovel of one of her own buildings and is in fear of the death that she knows the cocaine-fiends will mete out to her someday. She has money and she thinks that some night some maddened drug user will come to her miserable dwelling and murder her for her money.
In all of the misery and filth that surrounds her, she is not more miserable than the unfortunates who pay her for the rent of their squalid one-room dwellings, and pay gladly so that they may be near their source of supply of the drugs.
How They Exist
Col. Nutt and other revenue officers searching the building in which she resides, found men and women living in the most unsanitary of quarters and working hard at their tasks so that they might get enough money to buy drugs. A negress was found laboring over the washboard late at night, working hard so that her efforts might earn for her the drug she would crave in the morning. Her energy then, excited under the influence of drugs, was at such a pitch that she easily could earn enough money for tomorrow’s cocaine.
She and others lived this same life day after day – working far into the night to buy cocaine and then spending the greater part of the day in recovering from its effects.
These and many other surprising things were found by Col. Nutt and his daring crew of raiders that has been putting the terror of the inexorable United States government in the hearts of “dope” sellers in the west.
He and his men have found that the majority of opium users, strange to say, are negroes. While in every Chinese place a revenue officer entered there was an odor of opium, the faint odor of which is always susceptible to the detection of men trained in the suppression of the drug habit, so far there has been no Chinese arrested charged with violating the Harrison act. Quantities of opium and material for smoking it have been found but no Chinese have been held in charge of a sale.
Officers Are Sanguine
Col. Nutt is positive that he and his men will succeed in enforcing the anti-drug act. He is a veteran in the service of the government in the departments concerned with the enforcement of the law. As an oleomargarine raider he won enviable fame in the service, so much fame, in fact, that he has been called on to go to other cities to make raids on illicit oleo plants where the raw product was being colored.
He is a representative of the great secret organization of United States government that is now striking at the drug and other evils throughout the country. Silently and without ostentation this great body of government men go about the country enforcing the law and arresting and convicting violators. They are men trained to be circumspect and to do nothing until sufficient evidence is secured.
While detectives and police throughout the country are familiar with the drug traffic, they are depending on these intrepid, silent raiders to carry out the enforcement of this most drastic of recently passed laws.
The government through this small body of secret agents is accomplishing more than all the police forces put together. Whether people deprived of the drug are to be cured or must suffer, is one of the things that cannot enter into a federal officer’s judgment, for he is sworn to make those laws effective.
This is a follow up article about the Iroquois Theatre disaster.
On December 30, 1903, hundreds of adults and school children gathered in the “fireproof” Iroquois Theater in downtown Chicago for a Holiday performance of a play starring popular comedian Eddie Foy. Little did they know that the theater would turn into a blazing deathtrap, leading to the deaths of hundreds of people and creating a haunting that is still being experienced today!
Perhaps the greatest and most devastating fire in American history occurred in Illinois in October 1871. Known as the “Great Chicago Fire”, it wiped out most of the old city, killed hundreds and left hundreds of thousands homeless and destitute. But the city of Chicago has known many tragedies over the years and this would not be the last of the horrific fires to claim lives in the Windy City.
Another terrible blaze occurred at the Iroquois Theater on December 30, 1903 as a fire broke out in the crowded theater during a performance of a vaudeville show, starring the popular comedian Eddie Foy. The fire was believed to have been started by faulty wiring leading to a spotlight and claimed the lives of hundreds of people, including children, who were packed into the afternoon show for the holidays.
The Iroquois Theater, the newest and most beautiful showplace in Chicago in 1903, was believed to be “absolutely fireproof”. The Chicago Tribune called it a “virtual temple of beauty” but just five weeks after it opened its doors, it became a blazing death trap.
The new theater was much acclaimed, even before it opened. It was patterned after the Opera Cominque in Paris and was located downtown on the north side of Randolph Street, between State and Dearborn. The interior of the four-story building was magnificent, with stained glass and polished wood throughout.
The lobby had an ornate 60-foot-high ceiling and featured white marble walls fitted with large mirrors that were framed in gold leaf and stone. Two grand staircases led away from either side of the lobby to the balcony areas as well. Outside, the building’s front façade resembled a Greek temple with a towering stone archway that was supported by massive columns.
Thanks to the dozens of fires that had occurred over the years in theaters, architect Benjamin H. Marshall wanted to assure the public that the Iroquois was safe. He studied a number of fires that had occurred in the past and made every effort to make sure that no tragedy would occur in the new theater. The Iroquois had 25 exits that, it was claimed, could empty the building in less than five minutes. The stage had also been fitted with an asbestos curtain that could be quickly lowered to protect the audience.
And while all of this was impressive, it was not enough to battle the real problems that existed with the Iroquois. Seats in the theater were wooden and stuffed with hemp and much of the precautionary fire equipment that was advertised to have been installed, never actually made it into the building. The theater had no fire alarms and in a rush to open the theater on time, other safety factors had been forgotten or simply ignored.
The horrific events began on a bitterly cold December 30 of 1903. A holiday crowd had packed into the theater on that Wednesday afternoon to see a matinee performance of the hit comedyMr. Bluebeard. Officially, the Iroquois seated 1,600 people but with school out for Christmas break, it is believed there was an overflow crowd of nearly 2,000 people filling the seats and standing four-deep in the aisles. Another crowd filled the backstage area with 400 actors, dancers and stagehands hidden from those in the auditorium.
Around 3:20 p.m., at the beginning of the second act, stagehands noticed a spark descend from an overhead light, and then some scraps of burning paper that fell down onto the stage. In moments, flames began licking at the red-velvet curtain and while a collective gasp went up from the audience, no one rushed for the exits. It has been surmised that the audience merely thought the fire was part of the show.
Although in his dressing room, applying his final makeup for the act, Eddie Foy heard the commotion outside and rushed out onto the stage to see what was going on. He implored the audience to remain seated and calm, assuring them that the theater was fireproof and that everyone was safe. He signaled conductor Herbert Gillea to play and the music had a temporary soothing effect on the crowd, which was growing restless. A few moments later, a flaming set crashed down onto the stage and Foy signaled a stagehand to lower the asbestos curtain to protect the audience. Unfortunately though, the curtain snagged halfway down, leaving a 20-foot gap between the bottom of the curtain and the wooden stage.
The other actors in the show remained composed until they too realized what was happening. Many of them panicked and several chorus girls fainted and had to be dragged off-stage. The audience began to scream and panic too and a mad rush was started for the Randolph Street exit from the theater. Foy made one last attempt to calm the audience and then he fled to a rear exit. With children in tow, the audience members immediately clogged the gallery and the upper balconies. The aisles had become impassable and as the lights went out, the crowd milled about in blind terror. The auditorium began to fill with heat and smoke and screams echoed off the walls and ceilings. Through it all, the mass continued to move forward but when the crowd reached the doors, they could not open them as they had been designed to swing inward rather than outward. The crush of people prevented those in the front from opening the doors. To make matters worse, some of the side doors to the auditorium were reportedly locked. Many of those who died not only burned, but suffocated from the smoke and the crush of bodies as well. Later, as the police removed the charred remains from the theater, they discovered that a number of victims had been trampled in the panic. One dead woman’s face even bore the mark of a shoe heel.
Backstage, theater employees and cast members opened a rear set of double doors, which sucked the wind inside and caused flames to fan out under the asbestos curtain and into the auditorium. A second gust of wind created a fireball that shot out into the galleries and balconies that were filled with people. All of the stage drops were now on fire and as they burned, they engulfed the supposedly noncombustible asbestos curtain and when it collapsed, it plunged into the seats of the theater.
The scene outside of the theater was completely normal and most accounts say that the fire was burning for almost 15 minutes before any smoke was noticed by those passing by. Because there was no fire alarm box outside, someone ran around the corner to sound the alarm at Engine Co. 13. Things were so quiet in front of the Iroquois though that the first firefighters to arrive thought it was a false alarm.
This changed when they tried to open the auditorium doors and found they could not — there were too many bodies stacked up against them. Another alarm was sounded as the firemen tried to get into the building. They were only able to gain access by actually pulling the bodies out of the way with pike poles, peeling them off one another and then climbing over the stacks of corpses. It took only ten minutes to put out the remaining blaze, as the intense heat inside had already eaten up anything that would still burn. The firefighters made their way into the blackened auditorium and were met with only silence and smell of death. They called out for survivors but no one answered their cry.
The gallery and upper balconies sustained the greatest loss of life as the patrons had been trapped by locked doors at the top of the stairways. The firefighters found 200 bodies stacked there, as many as 10 deep. Those who escaped had literally ripped the metal bars from the front of the balcony and had jumped onto the crowds below. Even then, most of these met their deaths at a lower level.
A few who made it to the fire escape door behind the top balcony found that the iron staircase was missing. In its place was a platform that plunged about 100 feet to the cobblestone alley below. Across the alley, behind the theater, painters were working on a building occupied by Northwestern University’s dental school. When they realized what was happening at the theater, they quickly erected a makeshift bridge using ladders and wooden planks, which they extended across the alley to the fire escape platform. Reports vary as to how many they saved, but it’s thought that it may have been as many as 12, although it’s also believed that at least seven people fell to their deaths from the “bridge”. Others say that many times that number jumped from the ledge or were pushed by the milling crowd that pressed through the doors behind them. The passageway behind the theater is still referred to as “Death Alley” today, after nearly 150 victims were found piled here — stacked by the firemen or having fallen to their fates.
The “bridge” created by the firemen to get people out of the burning building When it was all over, 572 people died in the fire and more died later, bringing the eventual death toll up to 602, including 212 children. For nearly five hours, police officers, firemen and even newspaper reporters, carried out the dead. Anxious relatives sifted through the remains, searching for loved ones. Other bodies were taken away by police wagons and ambulances and transported to a temporary morgue at Marshall Field’s on State Street. Medical examiners and investigators worked all through the night.
The next day, the newspapers devoted full pages to lists of the known dead and injured. News wires carried reports of the tragedy around the country and it soon became a national disaster. Chicago mayor Carter Harrison, Jr. issued an order that banned public celebration on New Year’s Eve, closing the night clubs and making forbidden any fireworks or sounding of horns. Every church and factory bell in the city was silenced and on January 2, 1904, the city observed an official day of mourning.
Someone, the public cried, had to answer for the fire and an investigation of the blaze brought to light a number of troubling facts. The investigation discovered that two vents of the building‘s roof, which had not been completed in time for the theater’s opening, were supposed to filter out smoke and poisonous gases in case of a fire. However, the unfinished vents had been nailed shut to keep out rain and snow. That meant that the smoke had nowhere to go but back into the theater, literally suffocating those audience members who were not already burned to death. Another finding showed that the supposedly “fireproof” asbestos curtain was really made from cotton and other combustible materials. It would have never saved anyone at all. In addition to not having any fire alarms in the building, the owners had decided that sprinklers were too unsightly and too costly and had never had them installed.
To make matters worse, the management also established a policy to keep non-paying customers from slipping into the theater during a performance — they quietly bolted nine pair of iron panels over the rear doors and installed padlocked, accordion-style gates at the top of the interior second and third floor stairway landings. And just as tragic was the idea they came up with to keep the audience from being distracted during a show. They ordered all of the exit lights to be turned off! One exit sign that was left on led only to ladies restroom and another to a locked door for a private stairway. And as mentioned already, the doors of the outside exits, which were supposed to make it possible for the theater to empty in five minutes, opened to the inside, not to the outside.
The investigation led to a cover-up by officials from the city and the fire department, who denied all knowledge of fire code violations. They blamed the inspectors, who had overlooked the problems in exchange for free theater passes. A grand jury indicted a number of individuals, including the theater owners, fire officials and even the mayor. No one was ever charged with a criminal act though. Families of the dead filed nearly 275 civil lawsuits against the theater but no money was ever collected. The Iroquois Theater Company filed for bankruptcy soon after the disaster.
Police & fire investigators began looking into the cause for the fire and the reasons for the huge death toll.
The Iroquois Theater Fire ranks as the nation’s fourth deadliest blaze and the deadliest single building fire in American history. Nevertheless, the building was repaired and re-opened briefly in 1904 as Hyde and Behmann’s Music Hall and then in 1905 as the Colonial Theater. In 1924, the building was razed to make room for a new theater, the Oriental, but the façade of the Iroquois was used in its construction. The Oriental operated at what is now 24 West Randolph Street until the middle part of 1981, when it fell into disrepair and was closed down. It opened again as the home to a wholesale electronics dealer for a time and then went dark again. The restored theater is now part of the Civic Tower Building and is next door to the restored Delaware Building. It reopened as the Ford Center for the Performing Arts in 1998.
But this has not stopped the tales of the old Iroquois Theater from being told, especially in light of more recent — and more ghostly events. According to recent accounts from people who live and work in this area, “Death Alley” is not as empty as it appears to be. The narrow passageway, which runs behind the Oriental Theater, is rarely used today, except for the occasional delivery truck or a lone pedestrian who is in a hurry to get somewhere else. It is largely deserted, but why? The stories say that those a few who do pass through the alley often find themselves very uncomfortable and unsettled here. They say that faint cries are sometimes heard in the shadows and that some have reported being touched by unseen hands and by eerie cold spots that seem to come from nowhere and vanish just as quickly.
Could the alleyway, and the surrounding area, actually be haunted? And do the spirits of those who met their tragic end inside of the burning theater still linger here? Perhaps, or perhaps the strange sensations experienced here are “ghosts of the past” of another kind — a chilling remembrance of a terrifying event that will never be completely forgotten.
There may have been more prolific serial killers than the murderer of prostitutes in Whitechapel in 1888, but few have captured the public imagination in the same way. The ferocity of the crimes coupled with the mystery surrounding it only adds to the fascination. Much is known about the Jack the Ripper murders, but despite (or perhaps because of) the hundreds of books, movies and documentaries about him, there’s still a ton of misguided conjecture and just flat-out wrong information out there. Educate yourself on some true facts about Jack the Ripper.
It is generally accepted by Ripperologists (people who take a keen interest in the case) that there were five murders, known as the canonical five. However, by the time murder #1 occurred, the press already referred to this as “another” murder. Police were still considering murders in 1891 to be courtesy of Jack the Ripper. The murder of Francis Coles (pictured above) on February 13, 1891 was widely believed by the press and authorities to be his work. In all, the press attributed 11 murders to Jack the Ripper.
Polly Nichols met her end on August 31, 1888, and is the first canonical murder. There is a strong case for Polly for being number two. Martha Tabrum (also known by her common-law name Turner) died August 6 at the hands of an unknown murderer. She received 39 stab wounds to her abdomen and neck, and her dress was raised, indicating either sexual intercourse or that the killer raised her dress to inflict the wounds (it was later determined there was no sexual intercourse). The similarities to the canonical five murders are apparent, most notably the attacks to the groin and upper pelvic region.
Of the six non-canonical murders, Martha Tabrum has the best chance of being committed by Jack the Ripper.
Of the canonical five, two murders occurred on the same night, dubbed the “Double Event” by Ripperologists. The prevailing theory is that something interrupted Jack during his first murder of the evening, driving him to a more frenzied second attack. Certainly there is little doubt that Catherine Eddowes, the second of the two women, was killed by Jack the Ripper.
The murder of Liz Stride, however, the first of the Double Event, is markedly different from the other canonical five. Stride fit the age of the other victims, but everything else about the attack was quite different. Around 12:45am, Israel Schwartz witnessed a man pull a woman into the street and throw her to the ground. Schwartz ran after the attacker tossed a racial slur at him (“Lipski,” meaning Jew). Stride was dead 15 minutes later. Schwartz later identified her as the woman he saw thrown to the ground.
This attack occurred 45 minutes before the murder of Catherine Eddowes.
There are a number of differences between Stride and the other canonical five. Stride was likely murdered from the front; she was facing her killer. The three prior (counting Tabram) were struck from behind. The location seems quite different. Jack preferred very quiet, secluded places, yet Schwartz saw the attack first occur in the middle of the road. Her wounds were caused by a different knife to the one used to kill Eddowes 45 minutes later. Famous modern-day profiler John Douglas believes this is not significant, as of course Jack would have more than one knife.
Douglas strongly supports the Double Event theory. He reasons that that two unrelated murders occurring in such close proximity on the same evening would be too much of a coincidence, and therefore that they were both committed by the same hand. So does John Douglas think that John Brown is Jack the Ripper?
Who is John Brown? Brown murdered his wife Sarah on the evening of September 29, 1888. His deed occurred two hours and three miles from the Double Event. Yet you’ll never hear Brown mentioned as a suspect. And rightfully not—just because he committed a murder on the same evening as two others doesn’t mean he committed all three. Location isn’t always a factor in murders. The only thing linking the Double Event is proximity.
The media and police received over 700 pieces of correspondence claiming to be from “Jack.” Two are considered credible by Ripperologists. The first letter to gain notoriety was the infamous “Dear Boss” letter addressed to the Central News Agency. The affixed signature “Jack the Ripper” gained notoriety when a threat in the letter to “clip the (next victims) ears off” was carried out with the murder of Catherine Eddowes. The true author of the letter remains a mystery. Three prominent police officers stated that a newspaper man wrote the letter. A personal letter by John Littlechild, head of the Special Branch of the London Metropolitan Police, went further and actually named the newspaper man who wrote it: “Bullen” (real name Thomas Bulling). There is debate over whether the police truly knew the origin of the “Dear Boss” letter, but in 1888, the police thought it was a hoax.
George Lusk, President of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee, received another noteworthy letter, claiming to be “From hell.” Included in the crudely written letter was half a kidney, which the author claimed came from a victim (Catherine Eddowes). A doctor stated that the kidney belonged to a woman, roughly 45 years of age, and suffering from alcoholism (in other words, Eddowes). However, that would have been virtually impossible to medically conclude at that time. It’s interesting that the letter went to someone hunting after the murderer, rather than someone covering the case, however Lusk considered the letter to be a hoax. It remains possible that none of the Jack the Ripper correspondence was by the real killer.
One key document for Ripperologists is an 1891 letter from Sir Melville Macnaghten (Assistant Crime Commissioner) to The Sun newspaper regarding the arrest of a Thomas Cutbush, for the crime of stabbing several women in the buttocks, and The Sun’s accusation that Cutbush was Jack the Ripper. Macnaghten pointed out that Cutbush had never killed anyone, and listed three suspects who were better candidates for Jack:
“(1) A Mr M. J. Druitt, said to be a doctor & of good family — who disappeared at the time of the Miller’s Court murder, & whose body (which was said to have been upwards of a month in the water) was found in the Thames on 31st December — or about 7 weeks after that murder. He was sexually insane and from private information I have little doubt but that his own family believed him to have been the murderer.
(2) Kosminski — a Polish Jew — & resident in Whitechapel. This man became insane owing to many years indulgence in solitary vices. He had a great hatred of women, specially of the prostitute class, & had strong homicidal tendencies: he was removed to a lunatic asylum about March 1889. There were many circumstances connected with this man which made him a strong ‘suspect’.
(3) Michael Ostrog, a Russian doctor, and a convict, who was subsequently detained in a lunatic asylum as a homicidal maniac. This man’s antecedents were of the worst possible type, and his whereabouts at the time of the murders could never be ascertained.”
It’s possible that Macnaghten intended the letter only to demonstrate how unlikely a suspect Cutbush was, not to identify any of the three men as legitimate “main suspects,” but rigorous Ripperologists cannot afford to make that assumption.
The fact that the murders stopped soon after Druitt’s suicide is suspicious, but payslips found in his pockets indicate that his death was unrelated. It seems that he was fired from his teaching position days before his suicide, likely as a result of a homosexual scandal—that is the terrible trait that “sexually insane” refers to.
The third candidate, Michael Ostrog, was a con artist and petty thief. He had no ties to any of the victims or the crime scenes, and the crimes he did commit had grown less intense over his career, not more, and although he had had occasional violent outbursts, they were never planned or methodical. He is not considered a serious suspect.
That leaves Kosminski. Although modern minds will find it hard to condemn a man on the basis of his “solitary vices” (masturbation), there are more legitimate indicators. Aspects of his childhood (witness to sexual brutality, absent father) fit the classic serial killer profile. Several witnesses said the killer looked Jewish, although his is suspect as anti-Semitism was rife at the time. The one witness who specifically identified Kosminski was Jewish himself, however, although he refused to officially testify. And Kosminski was interred in a lunatic asylum not long before the murders ceased. One theory goes that the police knew Kosminski was the Ripper, but had him sent to the asylum rather than arrested, because they did not have the evidence to convict him.
But if that was the case, why have no internal documents turned up to corroborate it? Nevertheless, Kosminski must be considered a highly plausible candidate.
Jack the Ripper might be the most famous southpaw killer, along with Billy the Kid. But of course you know from your Listverse knowledge that Billy was right-handed. Jack the Ripper probably was too.
The principle identification of Jack the Ripper as a lefty comes from Dr. Rees Ralph Llewellyn. He carried out the post mortem on Polly Nichols, the first victim (or maybe second, depending on how you feel about this list). The specific passage is:
“…her throat had been cut from left to right, two distinct cuts being on the left side, the windpipe, gullet and spinal chord being cut through; a bruise apparently of a thumb being on the right lower jaw, also one on the left cheek, the abdomen had been cut open from centre of bottom of ribs along right side, under pelvis to left of stomach, there the wound was jagged; the omentum, or coating of the stomach, was also cut in several places, and two small stabs on private parts; apparently done with a strong bladed knife; supposed to have been done by some left handed person; death being almost instantaneous.”
Dr. Llewellyn’s claim that the killer was left-handed was based on neck bruising and the direction of the cuts (left to right—it was thought at the time that Jack slit his victims throats from behind), but how closely were those observations made? According to the Times and The Telegraph (September 1, 1888) accounts state that the doctor “will make no actual post mortem until he receives the coroner’s orders.” In other words, Dr. Llewellyn decided the killer was left-handed prior to carrying out the autopsy!
Lefties at that time were viewed with suspicion at best, and were often associated with the Devil. Early criminologist Cesare Lombroso claimed that left-handed people were three times more likely to commit a crime than their right-handed brethren.
Further studies of the crime scene demonstrated that Jack had strangled his victims front on, then lain them on the ground to mutilate them. This contradicted Llewellyn’s theory, and the doctor himself later retracted it, but the so-called “sinistral theory” had already caught hold in the public imagination, and anti-lefty prejudice made it hard to budge.
Jack the Ripper didn’t just kill at random. Like modern serial killers, he had a “type.” Four of the five canonical victims were approximately the same age—late 30s to 40s. His highly specific method of killing is stated in the last entry. He struck on weekends or bank holidays (including Martha Tabrum). And obviously the reason he’s so well remembered—besides never being caught—is the graphic nature of the wounds. If you throw out the Stride murder (either because she wasn’t killed by Jack or because he was interrupted during her murder), they all had some pelvic mutilation.
Catherine Eddowes and Liz Stride were the only murders to occur in what would be considered “late at night”—1am or so. The others occurred between 3am and 6am. That might seem late in modern times, but in the 1880s, that was just a bit before morning rush-hour. People on their way to work found canonical victim #1 Polly Nichols at 3:40am. That would indicate Jack had employment.
The murders (apart from Stride’s) were in secluded places. Jack had a pretty good knowledge of Whitechapel. Catherine Eddowes was murdered between walking shifts of patrol officers, which indicates that he was either very lucky or paid attention to where police (and other people) would be in planning his crimes.
One of the more well-known theories pins the Whitechapel murders on Dr. William Withey Gull, Queen Victoria’s own doctor. It’s the story portrayed in the movie From Hell, based on the graphic novel by Alan Moore, itself based on Steven Knight’s book The Final Solution. The movie is actually pretty good, the graphic novel even better, and both are completely and hopelessly wrong when it comes to the case.
According to Knight’s theory, the murders were part of a Masonic conspiracy that included a royal scandal, ritualistic murder, and a giant cover-up. Gull was first fingered as a suspect by several American newspapers in the 1890s, who had strong political motivations for maligning the British aristocracy. Gull’s advocacy for women’s involvement in medicine also made him a suspicious figure.
Born in 1816, Dr. Gull would have been 71 at the time of the Jack the Ripper murders (witnesses put the murderer in his 30s). He had a stroke 11 months before the murder of Polly Nichols, putting him in incredibly poor health. Further, the conspiracy relies on certain high-ranking individuals being Freemasons, when Masonic records show they definitely were not. Dr. Gull was most assuredly not Jack the Ripper.
The mutilations perpetrated on the victims involved careful removal of the uterus, kidneys, and other organs, and this fact has led many people to believe Jack the Ripper must have been a doctor. However, knowledge of anatomy could be gained by the layman by viewing public dissections of criminals, and there were other professions with anatomical knowledge as well—historian William Stewart claimed in 1939 that the killer might have been a woman, a “mad midwife” or abortionist.
Want to know who Jack the Ripper wasn’t? Prince Albert Victor. As grandson of Queen Victoria, his name comes up often as part of a vast conspiracy of sadism and privilege, reaching all the way to the crown itself. The allegation that a prince was killing paupers was first claimed in a 1962 book but IT probably started a bit earlier. While it makes a good story, it’s simply not possible: The Prince was nowhere near London when the murders occurred.
London had a population of around four million at that time, meaning there were thousands of people with no alibi who could, in theory, be the Ripper. So it’s suspicious that so many writers are convinced it had to be a celebrity, and in particular accuse those who it would be especially shocking if they turned out to be murderers, like members of the royal family, or children’s book authors.
Richard Wallace claimed in a 1996 book that Lewis Carroll not only killed prostitutes in the East End, but hid clues to it throughout Alice in Wonderland. Those “clues” involve rearranging the letters of random passages from the book into brutal descriptions of prostitute murder. The problem is that you could do that with almost any book at all—especially if you were willing to switch out letters that didn’t fit, as Wallace did. That is literally his only piece of evidence against Carroll, and even that doesn’t hold up, since Carroll was such a clever and creative wordsmith that if he wanted to insert playful murder-clues into his books, he could have come up with something a lot better than the ones Wallace suggests.
Carroll was just one of the many, many men in the same city at the same time as the murders happened. Keep that in mind you hear any other famous name associated with the Whitechapel murders, such as Winston Churchill’s father (also alleged to be part of a Masonic conspiracy) or the Elephant Man.
The common notion that Jack the Ripper killed silently and departed without a trace is a myth. Specifically, he left clues to his identity and location when he killed Catherine Eddowes. Joseph Lawende was walking along with two others around 1:35am on the night of her murder. He saw a man with a woman he identified as Eddowes (from her clothing), and later described him to The Times as “of shabby appearance, about 30 years of age and 5ft. 9in. in height, of fair complexion, having a small fair moustache, and wearing a red neckerchief and a cap with a peak.” Eddowes was dead 10 minutes after she was spotted with the man.
Witnesses to the other murders confirm most details of this description, although usually have him wearing more genteel clothing.
Almost 90 minutes after Eddowes’ murder, Police Constable Alfred Long discovered a bloody piece of her apron, very close to some graffiti. It read: “The Juwes are the men that will not be blamed for nothing.” It was quickly removed by police for fear it would incite a riot. It is much debated whether Jack the Ripper was an anti-Semite, or whether he was Jewish and wrote it to point the police in the wrong direction, or if someone else wrote it to capitalise on the murder.
The more useful clue is the location of the apron. Eddowes’ murder occurred southwest of Whitechapel. Technically, it was in London, not Whitechapel. Jack the Ripper traveled back toward the heart of Whitechapel. Jack the Ripper resided in Whitechapel (pictured above), not London proper.
Amateur sleuths have advanced the Jack the Ripper case to the point where it seems plausible that the case will be solved. Yes, really. Many records were destroyed during the London Blitz, but others were only lost and are still being rediscovered.
For example, in 1993, a letter by the aforementioned John Littlechild was discovered, revealing an entirely new suspect: Francis Tumblety. Tumblety was a quack American doctor in Whitechapel at the time of the murders, and to learn that he was considered as a suspect by police is explosive information for Ripperologists. Further research turned up a report by a contemporary of Tumblety, Colonel Dunham, who said the doctor had jars and jars of uterus specimens, and that, when asked why no women had been invited to dinner, “his face turned as black as a thunder-cloud,” he replied “No, Colonel, I don’t know any such cattle, and if I did I would, as your friend, sooner give you a dose of quick poison than take you into such danger” and that he then “fiercely denounced all women and especially fallen women.”
Historical census data is now available online, and is easily cross-referencable in a way that simply wasn’t possible in 1888. This has brought to light facts that, had they been available at the time, would have interested Scotland Yard very much indeed.
Charles Cross was the first person to find the body of canonical victim #1, Polly Nichols. In fact, he was found with the victim, by a second witness. Cross lived within a few minutes of the crime scene, but as this was the first murder, no one found this particularly suspicious. They should have. Modern researchers have since established that two of the other canonical victims were killed on the route between his home and work. Polly Nichols was not as badly mutilated as some of the later victims, and while serial killers often do escalate in intensity, it could also have suggested that the killer was interrupted—making Cross an even more likely suspect.
As of now we don’t have the information to determine whether either of those individuals was Jack the Ripper, but it was modern research by amateur sleuths that discovered inconsistencies in their testimonies, and that of some other suspicious “witnesses.” Many important documents and clues were seized as souvenirs, at the time of the murders and later by Ripperologists. When these documents come to light over the coming years, we may finally be able to solve the biggest murder mystery of the last 200 years.