Book Cover

Monday, September 30, 2013

Legend of Courage

Dear Mr. Goodwin,

I am beginning to read your book about the Winecoff fire for a second time. My great aunt, Nell McDuffie, was one of the survivors who was originally interviewed for the book, and her brother, my Great Uncle Walt McDuffie was one of the fire-fighters who responded that night.

I do remember visits with my Aunt Nell and I remember her telling us about wrapping her head in wet towels and climbing across a ladder to be rescued from the great fire. Aunt Nell was such an interesting person. She died before I was truly old enough to ask the right questions and appreciate the stories.

Thank you, also, for having such an interest in this important event and for sharing the stories with us all.

Most Sincerely,
Lynn Dunklin 
Dear Lynn,
How nice to hear from you. Nell McDuffie was a tremendous help to us during our book research. Since she had worked at the hotel, she helped us picture the day-to-day operations there. She was well placed in the hospitality industry because she was such a likable person! I visited her in her apartment home on Ponce de Leon Ave. in the late 1980s. She was very gracious. My co-author, Sam Heys, got to know her through many follow-up phone calls.
We could tell she enjoyed working at the hotel, especially during the era when the Winecoff was one of the Robert Meyer Hotels. She admired the man and his approach to the hotel business. She told me he modeled his hotels after the Statler (now Hilton) hotel chain.
Her telling of her miraculous rescue was completely spellbinding to me. The courage of Walt McDuffie and the other fire fighters remains an example to the world.

All best,

Saturday, August 24, 2013

A Survivor's Son Writes

Hello, Mr. Goodwin:

I wonder if you have any Winecoff Hotel fire photographs of my father, Andrew (Andy) Babb of Winchester, Virginia.

He was injured in the fire, but survived.

He was in Atlanta on behalf of the National Fruit Product Co. of Winchester, VA. He was chief chemical engineer with the firm and looking at plans for a National Fruit plant being built somewhere in Georgia. 

Years ago I saw a photo of Andy taken just after the Winecoff fire He was recovering in a hospital. There was a patch over his eye. Ironically, he was smoking a cigarette. Next to him was my aunt Roasalie Oakes of Atlanta. Rosalie and Andy had had dinner that night. She taught at Agnes Scott and rushed to the scene from her apartment after she hear the sirens.

Any information about this photo would be greatly appreciated. 

Yours truly,
Drew Babb


Dear Mr. Babb,

Yes, I have a photo of Andrew Babb. But not the exact one you've described. It's a newspaper photo published shortly after the fire. It was republished December 6, 1993 by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on the occasion of a gathering of the fire's survivors. (Click to enlarge).
All best,

Friday, May 3, 2013

Guided by God, Gregory Vojae Escapes

Mr. Goodwin,

I have a copy of your book and enjoyed reading it. It is an excellent account of the fire. My dad was not in the fire, however it occurred on his 37th birthday. He and mom lived in Dahlonega at the time and had to go to Atlanta the next week on an appointment. They passed the hotel "remains" at that time and were overwhelmed by the scene.
I found out about the Winecoff fire when I was in the 5th or 6th grade from an article in Guideposts magazine in 1965 or 1966. One of the survivors wrote an article about surviving the fire for the magazine. Are you aware of that article and do you know if I could find a copy of it any where? I would love to have a copy of the article. I appreciate anything you can share on this and thank you for writing a great book on the fire.

Thank You,
Dale Lowman

Hello Dale,
Thanks for writing. The Guideposts Magazine article you read appeared in the June 1965 issue. It was written by survivor Gregory Vojae. His room, 1014, was on the Ellis Street side of the building. His article he tells of his struggle against panic when he realized he was trapped by the fire.

Click To Enlarge
Reciting the 91st psalm he prayed for Devinne guidance. In his article he argues convincingly that it came to him, granting him a sense of calm, and commanding that he not rush his escape. When his moment for survival arrived he was ready and empowered to seize it. Outside his window and ten floors above Ellis Street he swung from a his sheet rope to a manila rope and then to a fireman's ladder.