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Thursday, March 3, 2011

A Fire Scene Witness Speaks

Allen, --- Just reviewed your stories of the Winecoff Hotel Fire in Atlanta Dec. 7, 1946. I was stationed that night at the Naval Air Station barracks (North Atlanta Airport) near Doraville, as an incoming Veteran student on the G.I. Bill.

The first time I saw the results of the fire was on the next day when some of us came to town to see what had happened. Most of the debris had been cleared and the building was a burned out shell. I was struck by the silent immobility of the city, like time stood still.

What impressed me was that there was so little motion and stark silence in the streets especially Peachtree Street the next day as eventually things slowly came back to life. I remember how the entire city of Atlanta was stricken with grief as a result of the horror of that disaster.

As a soldier in Europe, I'd been in cities all over France, Belgium, Holland and Germany where destruction was rampant, but this was so different. Atlanta was stunned by this tragedy and people just seemed dazed by the impact of the horrible happening in their innocent peacetime city.

I thought I would thank you for doing tribute to those people you cover in your articles. I checked out your website and am very much impressed with the coverage from all the different sources.

One thing as a side issue are the videos you present. I am an avid student of southern accents. Here preserved for posterity, in your website, are those who speak with an authentic Southern Accent!

Thanks so much, --- Vaughn Wagnon --- Charlottesville, VA.

Thank you, Vaughn.
That calm that befell the city after the fire was, I suspect, a mixture of shock and respect for the fire's victims.

On Southern accents: there surely are a variety of them. Here in the Atlanta area you'll hear the Appalachian twang as you travel north and the South Georgia drawl if you travel south! And then there are the sub-groups. For better or worse, the accents instantly reveal much about the backgrounds of the speakers. I know mine could use a little polish!

You are fortunate, Vaughn. To my ear, nothing beats a refined Charlottesville or Charleston, SC. accent. All best, Allen

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