Book Cover

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A Lasting Impression

I ordered your Winecoff Fire book this past Tuesday night through Amazon.
I was born and grew up in Atlanta. I was only six when the fire occurred. That Saturday / Sunday afternoon (?), after the fire, Dad had to drop off some reports at his work place on Luckie Street. I rode down with him and, after dropping his reports, we went by the fire scene before heading home.

I can picture Dad and I stepping over rows of fire hoses as they lay running down hill to drain and dry out as we tried to get closer to the burn site. The building was still smoking and the firemen were gathering up their equipment. I remember it being eerily quiet while we were there.

As a six year old, I was more interested at the time in jumping the hoses than learning of the seriousness of what had happened earlier. It was many years later before I really became aware of what had happened that morning.

I bought a copy of your book some years ago and read it several times. Later I told former classmates about your book and; after they read it, some wrote back about members of their own families being on fire trucks who answered the call. I was just an observer that weekend; but I have found out over the years how this tragedy effected families throughout Georgia.

The recent death article of Clarence Luther Leathers, Sr. (96), who was a responding fireman that morning, spurred memories of the stories of the fire. I must have lost my earlier copy of your book during one of my moves; so I'm replacing it now.

The fire touched many lives in different ways. So many innocent lives lost.

Bill Stewart
Gatlinburg, TN 37738

Mr. Stewart,

Thanks for sharing your story with me. You are, I think, the youngest eyewitness to the fire scene - with a living memory of it - that we've heard from.

Survivor Richard Hamil (room 1524) was nine years old. We've spoken with him many times. The two other child survivors that we know, Bob Cox (age 3, room 1002) and Connie Foster (age 1, room 508) were too young to have any memories of the fire today. We've spoken with many who were teens at the time.

Be safe,

Monday, June 14, 2010

Clarence Leathers Remembered

Dear Mr. Goodwin,

I recently purchased your book as a memento to read with my father. My father was Clarence Leathers and until recently, he was the oldest retiree from the City of Atlanta Fire Department. However, he passed away June 12, 2010 before I could give him the book. I know you interviewed Rick Roberts who also was a fireman at the Winecoff. There had been an article in the retiree newsletter asking if anyone else remembered working the Winecoff and that Rick Roberts would like to talk to them.

Well, my dad had a nice chat with him. Rick had thought that, at 93, he was the oldest retiree, but my dad had turned 96 in April. Last month, I was able to record less than a minute about what he did at the Winecoff and he stated that he carried hoses up to the other fireman and then they also tried to extinguish the fire. I wish that he could have spoken to you.

When I was growing up, I remember my mother, (who died in 1973) stating that this particular fire was traumatic to many of the firemen. She stated that so many people jumped from the burning hotel and that my dad would wake up sometimes to the sound (in his mind) of bones popping and to the smell of charred flesh. He never talked about the fire with me though other than when he mentioned being at it with the other firemen.

I am finishing your book now. My dad's obit should be in the Atlanta paper tomorrow. He will be buried at Westview Cemetery on Wednesday, June 16 and visitation will be at the Whitley-Garner at Rosehaven, Douglasville, GA on Tuesday between 6-9. I don't know how many firemen are still alive and will be able to attend the services. But I appreciate your writing the book so that I could get an idea of the fire that I only saw paper clippings about.
Thank you,
Vera Leathers Ankrum