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|← The Movie Dr. Kinsey||Representations of Class in Films →|
What a fateful day it had been! I was happily strolling through Washington Square in the late afternoon when a cloud of smoke coming from the Triangle Shirtwaist factory building drew my attention. I immediately figured out that something was amiss. From the street, I could see every feature of the fire tragedy; I also learnt a new sound: the unforgettable, and painful, thud of a living, speeding body hitting the hard sidewalk. The distance between life and death was so narrow. I stood there agape as bodies and bodies of girls piled up; there were at least twenty of them. A quick glance at the windows confirmed my fears. There were scores of them still. I knew, and they too knew, that they too had to come down. Somehow, death was staring them right in their faces. Fear gripped when I saw a girl falling, desperately waving her arms, striving to keep her upright posture but only for too long. Another thud and she lay there, lifeless and absolutely broken.
Soon, the firemen arrived. The number of casualties was increasing dramatically. To the witnesses around like me, and especially the girls peering down the windows, these firemen offered the only hope. Immediately, they got down to work. Some of them raised the ladder while the others held a life net as they rushed to the sidewalk. Three girls shot down from the windows. However, the supposedly life net could not withstand the girls’ weight: it broke, and they died. For the girls still up there, death was almost inevitable. Tens of them continued to fall, and they all died. Only the ladder offered any kind of hope.
Staring as innocent girls were falling made me sick. The sidewalk by now had more than seventy bodies, all broken. The firemen were now in their hundreds. However, they had problems reaching the upper floors of the building. So many times they tried to no avail. Hours had now passed by. I bet many people may have suffocated in the smoke; if at all they had not been burnt. The arrival of more firemen and policemen meant that we had to be moved away from the scene. By this time, I was too disturbed to hover around.